Friday 5th to Sunday 7th September 2003, Manchester Conference Centre
FRIDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER
|Serena Roney-Dougal||Free-Response Psi Experiments in a Yoga Ashram: Preliminary Studies Part 2|
|Chris Roe, Simon Sherwood & Nicola Holt||An experimental test of the role of the sender using a ganzfeld ESP task|
|Adrian Parker & Thomas Wright||Recent work using the digital ganzfeld technique|
|Mick O'Neill||Psychic lottery project: Latest developments|
|Guy Lyon Playfair||Telepathy caught on camera|
SATURDAY 6TH SEPTEMBER
|John Harvey||The photographic medium: Reinventing the ghost in the visual culture of psychic photography|
|Guy Lyon Playfair||The return of Katherine Bates: Past life recall, cryptomnesia, spirit seduction, or what?|
|Erlendur Haraldsson||Three semi-randomly selected Lebanese cases of children who speak of past lives|
|Mary Rose Barrington||The clairvoyant, the magician and the proto psi-cop|
|Montague Keen||The Jacqui Poole case|
|Mary-Jane Anderson||An investigation of a social facilitation effect of remote observation|
|Chris Roe, Russell Davey & Paul Stevens||Are ESP and PK aspects of a unitary phenomenon? Studies 2 and 3|
|Yung-Jong Shiah, Si-Chen Lee & Robert Morris||Evaluation of cutaneous acuity training techniques|
SUNDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER
|Montague Keen||The morning after syndrome: How do we cope with it?|
|David Luke||The development of a new belief in luck questionnaire|
|Rupert Sheldrake & Pamela Smart||Experimental investigations of telephone and e-mail telepathy|
|Archie Roy, Trish Robertson & Montague Keen||Revisiting William James's psychic cosmic reservoir|
In 2002 preliminary research was started at Bihar Yoga Bharati, India, an ashram which hosts a university in which students take two year MA and MSc courses in Yoga Psychology, Yoga Philosophy and Applied Yogic Science.Parapsychology is part of these courses, and students participate in class experiments. Permission was given to do research with the swamis and sannyasins, and so individual sessions have also been conducted. Results from 2002 suggested that the theoretical ideas, and early experiments from the 1970s, that meditation is a psi-conducive state of consciousness may have some validity. This research has been extended during the January - April 2003 term. The hypotheses for this series of experiments are that a relaxed, meditative state will be more psi-conducive than no pre-session preparation; and 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.
Paul Stevens, from the KPU, kindly designed a portable ESP programme, which at random chooses a picture, out of a pool, to be the static target of which the percipients have to become aware. After the session, the computer shows four pictures of which one is the target picture. The percipients then rank order the pictures. When this judging period is completed the computer shows the target picture. The programme was used in the clairvoyance mode, so that all the students could participate. The class experiments were run with the1st year postgraduates as a series of tests comprising a preliminary session, a relaxation session, a meditation session and a yoga nidra session. Each test was run one week apart at the end of the practical class.
The statistical method used to assess overall significance was the effect size (pi) of the rank 1 hits, yielding the following results:
Because these studies are preparatory, post-hoc analyses were done in order to ascertain more precisely the factors involved. The drop in numbers of students attending the class was checked, and it was found that more people who scored well initially came to later classes. Therefore, the higher scoring at the meditation and yoga nidra sessions may have been affected by high scoring people choosing to continue with the tests. It could also have been a practise effect or related to attitude, and therefore interest. All students completed an attitude questionnaire and the results support previous findings, with high believers scoring more rank 1 hits.
Therefore overall, whilst inconclusive owing to the drop in student numbers and the lack of a counterbalanced design, this year's class research suggests that meditation, and possibily yoga nidra, may be a psi-conducive state.
Jezz Fox, from Liverpool University kindly designed a portable Precognition programme, using dynamic targets from the Dalton Target library, in a design similar to that of the ESP programme. Because the research is gaining increasing acceptance and interest in the ashram, this year I was able to work with the swamis and sannyasins, and see if a greater level of yogic attainment is related to increasing psi awareness. Some of the swamis have practised for over 30 years. Most of the sannyasins have practised for about a decade, whilst the students have practised for an average of only 2 - 3 years.
34 people participated in a total of 102 sessions. Each person completed a yogic attainment questionnaire which is under development. Analyses are not yet completed, but a preliminary scan of the results shows that the swamis have scored twice as many rank 1 hits as the students, with the sannyasins scoring in between. This is in line with the hypothesis and suggests that further work with a controlled design is well worth doing.
According to Morris, Dalton, Delanoy, and Watt (1995) "One of the most important theoretical issues in parapsychology concerns the role of the sender in GESP procedures" (p. 246). Indeed, many of the most impressive spontaneous cases do seem to involve an active 'agent' (cf. Beloff, 1993), whereas in the laboratory Palmer (1978, p. 97) notes that "whatever the status of 'pure telepathy', the widespread use of GESP procedures in psi experiments is ample evidence that many experimenters believe the presence of an agent may improve the chances of a successful outcome". One means of assessing this possibility is to compare participants' performance under GESP conditions (where there is a sender) with that under clairvoyance conditions (where there is not). Unfortunately the interpretation of the outcomes of some of these studies is confounded by the fact that participants were aware that there would be no sender for some trials and this may clearly affect their expectancy or motivation or even the perceived credibility of the phenomenon under investigation in ways that could lead to what we term a psychological sender effect (cf. Irwin, 1999).
In this presentation we intend to describe a study that controls for expectancy when considering sender effects. The study was a conceptual replication of an experiment by Raburn and Manning (1977) that manipulated both the presence of a sender (sender, no sender) and the receiver's expectation concerning sender's presence.
There were 40 trials overall involving three experimenters and an opportunity sample of 40 pairs of participants consisting mainly of friends, acquaintances and staff and students at UCN. The Ganzfeld sessions were run by an automated free-response testing system that selected one of the four possible conditions at random. Both the experimenter and the receiver were blind to the true nature of the condition. During true no sender trials the designated sender was engaged in an alternative psi task including the use of a computerised PK greyhound task.
Overall the mean z score based upon ratings of the target relative to the dummy video-clips was below chance expectations (-0.10). There were no significant main effects of either sender role (p = .676) or receiver expectancy (p = .734) and no significant interaction effects (p = .978). Contrary to Raburn and Manning (1977), performance was not significantly better in the sender than the no sender conditions, although did give a trend in support of their finding that conditions in which the receiver expected a sender resulted in better performance than when the receiver did not.
Post hoc analysis of absolute z score for ratings suggested that the difference between the expectancy conditions was approaching significance (p = .057). These findings are discussed in relation to Palmer's (unpub.) interaction model, which suggests that some variables might influence the direction of psi effects and some might influence the magnitude. An investigation of sender and receiver covariates of performance suggested moderate positive correlations between both senders' (r = .229) and receivers' (r = .242) expectations of being able to demonstrate psi in the experiment and task performance. There was also a modest positive correlation (r = .236) between receiver's having practised a mental discipline and performance, which was not found for senders.
Overall, the results suggest that, at least in the Ganzfeld context, receiver expectancy might be more important than whether or not there is a sender actually present, although the lack of any significant effects and the lack of apparent psi effects in the study mean that this remains uncertain.
Beloff, J. (1993). Parapsychology: A concise history. London: The Athlone Press
Irwin, H. J. (1999). An introduction to parapsychology (3rd Ed.). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
Morris. R. L., Dalton, K., Delanoy, D.L., & Watt, C. (1995). Comparison of the sender / no sender condition in the Ganzfeld. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association 38th Annual Convention, 244-259.
Palmer, J. (1978). Extrasensory perception: Research findings. In S. Kripppner (Ed.) Advances in parapsychological research vol 2: Extrasensory perception. (pp.59-243). New York: Plenum Press.
Palmer, J. (unpub.). The psychology of ESP: Magnitude vs direction. Unpublished manuscript.
Raburn, L. & Manning, R. (1977). Sender relaxation and expectation in telepathy. In J.D. Morris, W.G. Roll, & R.L. Morris (Eds.) Research in Parapsychology 1976. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.
A review of the ongoing work using real time recordings is made. The aim with this is to use the qualitative correspondences between Ganzfeld experiences and the content of film clips in order to make better quantitative judgements. In addition a method is being used which will enable some of the qualitative correspondences to be evaluated quantitatively.
The study was using this system of book-marking correspondences to see ESP performance could be improved amongst a group of eight volunteers who came back for up top six repeated sessions. Another hypothesis concerned the possibility that impressions which were thought by the participant to have an "external origin", would be more target related. Seventy-four Ganzfeld trials were carried out using two trials per session. Although no improvement in performance could be demonstrated, and no differences were found with the source to which imagery was attributed, participants scored at the expected rate of 32-33% for the Ganzfeld (the effect size was 0.17, z =1.48, p =.09). Thirty-eight of the trials had two sessions per day and these gave a direct hit frequency of 19% while thirty-six trails with one session per day scored at 45% (p<.05) which replicated earlier findings.
This talk will include a group lottery experiment. Lottery tickets will be bought and winnings shared amongst participants. It is free to take part.
This project has been underway for the past three years and is ongoing. The intention is to find out whether and how it is possible to use psi to predict lottery numbers and if so, to win the UK National Lottery. As the project was described in detail last year, this year's paper will only briefly describe the project and concentrate on developments since last year's conference.
METHODOLOGY: The study is based on the Ganzfeld and the work of Zilberman (SPR Journal 1995). From these, it is possible to conclude that it may be possible to predict Lottery numbers in advance. The project involves people being invited to try to predict winning numbers for the subsequent lottery draw using a short period of visualisation. The experiment currently consists of about 50-100 participants independently attempting this each bi-weekly draw. The participants pay nothing but simply email or phone their chosen numbers to me. All the numbers are then input into a computer program that collates and saves each participant's numbers, method used and time visualised. The computer has many features. It tries to eliminate everyone's natural bias toward certain numbers. It also adds weight to the contributions of more successful contributors. After considering this, 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 list of tickets to be bought; the total number of tickets is dependent on the number of participants. Prior to the lottery draw, participants are e-mailed with the numbers on tickets purchased and the information necessary for an unambiguous division of any prizes among participants.
ASSESSING PROGRESS: If we can prove that the 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 overall success, or success dependent on many different factors such as geomagnetic activity, the lunar cycle, the order of balls drawn or the order participants visualise the numbers. Radin (1997) has found that lotteries and other gambling correlates 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 require replication and so I encourage participants to use these times.
LATEST PROGRESS REPORT: 700 people have contributed numbers between once and 300 times each. These psi attempts are at all times of day and under all geomagnetic and other conditions.
At last year's conference, I told how there were certain promising tendencies in the study. So the first results presented in this paper will analyse the subsequent results in order to decide whether these tendencies have continued or were mere temporary aberrations.
In November 2002, the data were analysed in the light of Spottiswoode's results and revealed a dramatic replication of Spottiswoode's graph. This will be presented along with developments since then.
As well as the above the results of an up-to-date general analysis will also be presented.
Radin, D. (1997) The Conscious Universe, Harper Edge, San Francisco. 181
Spottiswoode S. J. P. (1997). Apparent Association Between Effect Size in Free Response Anomalous Cognition Experiments and Local Sidereal Time. Journal of Scientific Exploration 11,(2),109-122.
Zilberman M. S. (1995). Public Numerical Lotteries - An International Parapsychological Experiment Covering a Decade. JSPR, 60, 149-160
At the 1998 SPR Conference in York, a short video extract from the 1997 Carlton TV series The Paranormal World of Paul McKenna was shown in which it appeared that a telepathic signal from an identical twin was picked up by her sister and recorded on a four-channel polygraph. In January 2003 a similar experiment, with the same polygraph expert but with a different pair of twins, was carried out in the studios of Channel 4's Richard and Judy afternoon chat show. Again, clear deflections were instrumentally recorded on the polygraph connected to one of the twins that coincided with unexpected stimuli being given to the other at a distance and out of sight and earshot.
Although neither experiment was carried out under strictly controlled conditions, it is suggested that a simple, inexpensive and easily repeatable experiment has been designed that could, in theory, produce irrefutable evidence for telepathy.
Extracts from both programmes will be shown.
The paper proposes that a complex relationship exists between (especially) counterfeit ghost photographs produced in the USA and UK after 1860 and earlier pictorial images of apparitions. This relationship is expressed severally, in: first, an association between ghost photographs and the conventions of religious pictures and visions (enabling the former to connote a spirit aura); secondly, a transformation in the representation of ghosts (predicated on the nature of the photographic medium and process), which contrasts significantly with previous pictorial codes of visualisation; thirdly, a stylistic evolution in the representation of apparitions in the history or photography from figuration to abstraction (co-terminus with the development of visual from in Modernist art); and, fourthly, the puzzling and almost ubiquitous presence in ghost photographs of portraits of the dead that are, apparently, reproduced from existing prints and paintings. The implications of this relationship for testing the authenticity of ghost photographs are also discussed.
In 1997, a book was published under the title Seeing the Unseen with the subtitle A Past Life Revealed Through Hypnotic Regression. The author is named as Ormond McGill, a well known American hypnotist, stage magician, and traveller. According to him, however, the book's real author was an Englishwoman who dies nearly a hundred years ago, and communicated memories of a past life through a hypnotised client of McGill's who is said to be a well-known Hollywood actress.
The book is presented as a genuine case of past-life recall, though there seem to be at least four possible alternative explanations of its origin:
Each of these possible explanations is discussed, and reasons are given why none of them seems entirely satisfactory.
St. Matthew ch24 v24
1 Timothy 4, v1 & 3
Barrington, M. R. (2002). The case of Jenny Cockell ….JSPR 66.2 (867) pp106-12
Bates, E. K. (1907). Seen and Unseen. London: Greening, 2nd ed
Dickinson, G. L. (1911) Emergence of a latent memory under hypnosis. Proc. SPR 25 (64) pp455-67
Fisher, J. (1990). From India to the Planet Mars. London: Harper
Gabay, A. J. (2001) Messages from Beyond. Victoria: Melbourne University Press
McGill, O. (1997) Seeing the Unseen. Bancyfelin: Anglo-American Book Co.
Oppenheim, J. (1985) The Other Side. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Smith, S. (2000) The Afterlife Codes. Charlotesville: Hampton Roads.
Stevenson, I. (1983). Cryptomnesia and parapsychology. JSPR 52 (793) pp 1-30
The more impressive cases of children who claim to remember a past life tend to get published with greater frequency than 'run of the mill' cases, giving readers a skewed impression of the phenomena. Thirty children who speak about a previous life were briefly interviewed for the purpose of a psychological study in Lebanon (Haraldsson, 2003). From this pool (after the most impressive case had been investigated; Erlendur Haraldsson and Majd Abu-Izzeddin, 2002) three children were semi-randomly selected for a thorough investigation. In one case a deceased person was identified whose circumstances in life closely resembled the child's statements. In another case no person adequately fitting the child's statements was found and checking the correctness of her statements was impossible due to practical reasons. In the third case the child's family was related to the alleged previous personality, which could have given the child and its parent's ample opportunity to learn by normal means about the previous personality. In addition to the alleged memory aspect one case showed perplexing psychophysiological and behavioural features.
A grant for this project from the Bial Foundation is gratefully acknowledged.
Erlendur Haraldsson and Majd Abu-Izzeddin (2002). Development of Certainty about the Correct Deceased Person in a Case of the Reincarnation Type: The Case of Nazih Al-Danaf. Journal of Scientific Exploration. 16(3), 363-380.
Erlendur Haraldsson (2003). Children who speak of past-life experiences: Is there a psychological explanation? Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory Research and Practice. 76, 1, 55-67.
The main players in this drama are (1) Alexis Didier, a formidable clairvoyant whose career has recently been examined in detail by Dr. Bertrand Méheust, (2) Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, a renowned conjurer and denouncer of fraudulent mediums, and (3) Michel Seldow, the magician's biographer, who went to the most astounding lengths to deny the simple fact that Houdin reported and confirmed his opinion that Alexis was a genuine clairvoyant; with training, he said, Alexis might be able to do conjuring tricks, but no amount of training could enable him, Houdin, to do what Alexis did. Houdin's pronouncement was, in the eyes of many people, the most ringing endorsement of Alexis's powers that could be imagined, and to Seldow it was an insufferable blot that had to be air-brushed away.
Alexis Didier was the younger and more gifted of two brothers who both demonstrated clairvoyance when put into a hypnotic trance. He was in fact known as a 'sonnambule' rather than as a clairvoyant, and the skeptics of the time rejected not only the animal magnetism that was supposed to underlie mesmerism, but the hypnotic trance state itself and , of course the clairvoyance that appeared to be closely bound up with it; for whereas 20th century hypnotists commonly illustrate hypnosis by getting subjects to dance with broomsticks, or something of the sort, in early 19th century France, and later in England, the natural consequence of being 'magnetised' seemed to be the ability to demonstrate a highly developed degree of clairvoyance. Alexis demonstrated his outstanding gifts to the public, to select members of society and to some highly critical investigators, English as well as French.
Houdin was internationally renowned as a magician when, in 1847, he was asked by the eccentric Marquis de Mirville to attend with him at a private session with Alexis and to let him have an expert opinion. Houdin accepted the commission, convinced that he would unmask Alexis as a trickster. Houdin personally blindfolded Alexis, and then laid 10 cards face down on the table; he was more than surprised when Alexis correctly named every card before it was turned face up. This feat was repeated twice. The session continued on the usual lines - inter alia, Alexis identified a phrase from a closed book Houdin had brought with him, described the writer of a letter given to him for psychometry, telling Houdin (correctly, as it turned out) that his friend, the letter writer, was betraying his trust; he told Houdin's wife what she was thinking about, and identified a strand of hair as belonging to Houdin's son. Houdin wrote, and de Mirville published, a report making it clear that no conjurer could perform the marvels that he had witnessed at the sitting with Alexis. This verdict was reinforced when Houdin asked for a further sitting a fortnight later, this time accompanied by a colleague.
De Mirville published Houdin's reports, and there are other contemporary writings that confirm what took place and Houdin's conviction that Alexis was a genuine clairvoyant. Houdin never repudiated or sought to correct anything published about him on the subject. Seldow's attempts to discredit the validity of these publications include suggestions that de Mirville altered or even invented the reports and Houdin would not have dared to contradict a nobleman, that the reports were intended to be ironical, and that while Houdin knew that Alexis was using conjuring tricks he was too kind-hearted to denounce him. These speculations deserve a place in the annals of psi-denial.
For many decades, David Mandell has been having vivid dreams, which he feels offer him glimpses into the future, often relating to disasters, terrorist attacks or gruesome crimes. Because Mandell is an artist, he took to recording the dreams in the form of a painting or drawing, and has attempted to obtain independent proof of the time and date when the pictures were made (by having the picture photographed in a bank, in front of the date and time). According to some accounts, Mandell has produced over 200 pictures over the years and it is claimed that many of them predict future events.
Given the fact that the any apparent match between Mandell's dreams and news events could always be explained away as simply being a coincidence, there is no way to test Mandell's claims definitively. However, it was hoped that by providing alternative interpretations of the pictures and allowing judges to rate how well the different interpretations matched the picture, that useful information would be obtained. If it proved very easy to find news events that appeared to match the pictures as well as Mandell's own interpretation, that would seriously undermine any claims of paranormality.
Forty pictures were provided, with details of the matching news story (e.g. the "twin-towers" picture, with details of the twin-towers attacks). News archives were then searched for alternative interpretations of each picture. In some cases this was very easy (such as with a train crash) and in other cases it was much more difficult (such as with the "twin-towers" picture).
Thirty participants were asked to judge the degree of match between the descriptions (Mandell's and the alternative provided by us) and the picture on a 7-point scale (where 1 = no match and 7 = a perfect match).
Where available, supporting material (such as newspaper photographs that were said to correspond to the picture) was provided and attention was drawn to words and phrases included on the text on some of the pictures. For some pictures this meant it was possible for judges to figure out which news event corresponded to Mandell's interpretation and which was the alternative news event. Therefore, for analyses, the pictures were treated as two corresponding subsets. Questionnaire measures of general paranormal belief and specific beliefs about precognitive dreaming were also administered. It was predicted that judges might be biased in their judgements by pre-existing levels of paranormal belief or specific beliefs about the possibility of precognitive dreaming. No such bias was found and no belief rating correlated with ratings for either Mandell's interpretation of the alternative. We had also expected that believers might show a relative bias in favour of David's interpretation and sceptics a relative bias in favour of the alternative. Again, no such correlation with belief measures was found. Although this was somewhat surprising in the light of previous research, this was good news insofar as it suggested that judges had simply carried out the task in an unbiased way.
Of the 40 pictures, Mandell's news event was rated as a better match than the alternative in 31 cases, but was significantly better in only seven cases (including both Twin Towers pictures). The fact that Mandell's very best matches were so judged must be interpreted in the light of the fact that the alternative news events used in the study were generated in a short space of time, whereas Mandell's were chosen over a much longer period.
On the basis of this study it is not possible to determine whether Mandell's pictures really do represent precognitive visions of the future or are just ambiguous enough to fit a wide range of events, after the fact. However what is interesting is given Mandell's interpretation and an alternative one, participants in this study do pick Mandell's over the alternative suggested. Whether this is due to the small amount of time available to generate the alternative or to genuine precognitive ability on Mandell's part, we simply cannot say. However, his claims merit serious consideration.
This paper discusses an exceptionally precise case of psychic detection, which has provided what the investigators (Guy Lyon Playfair and the author) consider to be the most impressive evidence yet for posthumous communication. It concerns messages received by a young Irish medium living in West London in February 1983 from a purported spirit urging her to report to the police the circumstances in which the entity had been recently murdered. The medium, Christine Holahan now living and practising in County Laoise, Ireland, did not know the deceased, and agreed to respond only after having received sufficient confirmatory details. Two detectives interviewed her. One, Tony Batters, part of Detective Superintendent Tony Lundy's murder squad, had spent five hours a few days earlier breaking into the victim's apartment and noting all the details of the murder scene. The victim, Jacqueline Poole, was a 25 years-old woman who had been brutally attacked, robbed and sexually assaulted.
The medium, who had been given only the correct, unpublicised maiden name of the communicator, provided so detailed and accurate description of the scene, that Batters concluded either that she was mind-reading his extensive notes or that she must have actually witnessed the murder. The information related not simply to such items as the apparel and jewellery of the deceased, the position of a half empty coffee cup she had not finished drinking, the disarray of cushions on the living room floor, the pills she was taking for stress and her divorce proceedings then in train, but to the fact that she was supposed to be going to a new part-time job on the evening of the murder, and the location in the bathroom where the struggle had begun. She went on to give details of the murderer, Anthony Ruark, whom she knew and disliked, but who had already been cleared of suspicion by the police, having produced a persuasive alibi.
To assuage the doubts of the two police officers about her genuineness, the medium gave an on-the-spot psychometry reading to one of the detectives, producing a prediction which unexpectedly was fulfilled a few days later, and two specific pieces of private information the accuracy of which has left the detective profoundly affected to this day.
Of some 42 statements made by Christine about Ruark, including a written message made in semi-trance containing Ruark's very unusual nickname, Pokie, all were correct or unverifiable. Other information including several names of relatives or friends proved correct. Because information from mediums is not admissible in court, the case was pigeon-holed. However, Batters' certainty that of Ruark's guilt led him to salvage a pullover discarded in Ruark's waste-bin. Eighteen years later, thanks to the development of LCN-DNA technology, this was one of the unsolved murder cases resuscitated. The findings were conclusive: 46 matches were found of skin cells, clothing fibres and bodily fluids between the victim and her assailant. At the Old Bailey in August 2001, Ruark was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.
Some 150 specific statements were made, all of them accurate save a relatively small number which could not be checked, and one minor error about the day on which the murder took place. Some of the information remained unchecked until after the trial.
The presentation will comment on the steps taken by the investigators to confirm the information, and then examine alternative explanations, and draw comparisons with earlier cases.
Author's Note: I would like to thank the Society for Psychical Research who provided funding towards my research.
This is an initial report into ongoing research into the possibility of a social facilitation effect from remote observation.
Remote observation research has found that remote observation detection can be better measured by more unconscious means, such as psychophysiological measures, than by conscious guess (e.g.: Colwell Schröder & Sladen 2000, Braud, Shafer & Andrews 1993a, Wiseman & Smith 1994). Although behaviour is a more unconscious measure than conscious guess this means of detecting an effect of remote observation has not been researched as thoroughly (but see Lee et al. 2002).
Social facilitation research has investigated the effect of an audience (one or more people present and, usually, observing) on one person's task performance. This has repeatedly demonstrated that an audience facilitates performance of a simple task and inhibits performance of a complex task (Bond & Titus1983). This has been shown both for observering and merely present audiences (Marcus 1978, Schmitt, Gilovich, Goore and Joseph 1986).
The author's research combines these two fields, using behavioural tasks in a social facilitation experiment with a remote observation condition. Remote observation is compared to alone and to a present, observing audience.
Remote observation is expected to have a social facilitation effect for three reasons. Firstly remote observation research has found that there is a difference in the psychophysiological arousal of a subject between observation and non- observation conditions. The drive theory of social facilitation (Zajonc 1980) maintains that the social facilitation effect is caused by increase of arousal of the subject, caused by the audience, which has been measured by psychophysiological means. Thus if an audience causes a change in arousal that leads to the social facilitation effect then remote observation's change in arousal might lead to this too. Secondly it might be the case that remote observation detection detects whether one is being looked at, as an audience that is looking at the subject has been shown to cause the social facilitation effect so a remote observer's looking might cause this too. Finally it might be the case that remote observation detection detects a remote presence, and as presence has been found to cause the social facilitation effect then the remote presence of a remote observer might cause this too. As remote observation detection was shown to be better measured by unconscious means the behavioural tasks used for social facilitation should be able to detect an effect.
This is a report of two experiments. The first used complex and simple behavioural tasks similar to Schmitt et al. (1986). The effects of extroversion, anxiety, familiarity to the observer and belief in psi were investigated along with a comparison of performance under the conditions: alone, audience and remote observation. The hypotheses were not supported although a social facilitation effect in the opposite direction from expected was found in complex task performance. The second experiment (currently underway) investigates the same main hypotheses but incorporates many improvements in equipment and methodology.
It is hoped that the findings will lead to a further clarification of the effects of remote observation, as the effects of this on behaviour have been under-researched. The implications for experimental psychology in general are wider. If remote staring does have a social facilitation effect on task performance then this has to be taken into account in experimental procedure. It is common practice for experimenters to discount themselves as active components of their experiments and to observe or leave as they wish. Also in much research in social facilitation covert observation has been equated with the performer being alone which might not be justifiable.
This very simple aspect of the effect of an experimenter, whether or not they are there or observing covertly, might also have implications for the much investigated experimenter effect in parapsychology. Many experimental tasks in parapsychology would be complex tasks in terms of social faciltation, and so the presence, remote or otherwise, of an experimenter would be expected to inhibit performance.
Bond, C. F. & Titus, L. J. (1983) Social Facilitation: A Meta-Analysis of 241 Studies Psychological bulletin, 94, (2), 265-29
Braud, W., Shafer, D. & Andrews, S (1993a) Reactions to Unseen Gaze (remote attention): A review, with new data on Autonomic Staring Detection Journal of Parapsychology, 57, 373-390
Colwell, J., Schröder, S. & Sladen, D. (2000) The Ability to detect Unseen Staring: A Literature Review and Empirical Tests British Journal of Psychology, 91, 71-85
Lee, B., Hadjiosif, M., Weidlich, D., Barlow, L., Crichton, C., Moorehead, C., Mackay, A., Griffith, A. (2002) Personality and Perception in Staring Detection and Experience The Parapsychological Association 45th Annual Convention Proceedings of Presented Papers, 407-409
Marcus, H. (1978) The effect of Mere Presence on Social Facilitation: An Unobtrusive Test Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 14, 389-397.
Schmitt, B. H., Gilovich, T., Goore, N. & Joseph, L. (1986) Mere presence and Social Facilitation: One More Time Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 22, 242-248
Wiseman, R. & Smith, M.D. (1994) A further look at the Detection of Unseen Gaze. The Parapsychological Association 37th Annual Convention Proceedings of Presented Papers , 465-478
Zajonc, R. B. (1980) Social psychology: An experimental approach California: Brooks/Cole
The use of the umbrella term 'psi' to encompass both ESP and PK phenomena implies that they share some common features and perhaps reflect a single underlying process (see, e.g., Thalbourne, in press). However, this assumption has only recently been subject to any kind of systematic test (Roe, Davey & Stevens, in press). Most empirical evidence that bears on the question of whether ESP and PK are simply expressions of a unitary phenomenon is at best circumstantial (e.g., Kelly & Kanthamani, 1972; Schmeidler, 1973). At worst it reflects a lack of interest in the literature in performance patterns for ESP and more strikingly for PK performance (cf. Irwin, 1985; Schmeidler, 1994). Where patterns have been identified for one domain they may not have been studied in the other domain so that comparisons are limited. Nevertheless there is some suggestion that similar personality types excel at both tasks (e.g., Schmidt & Schlitz, 1989) but that ideal circumstances may be polarised for certain variables (for example, participant arousal and environmental geomagnetic flux see, e.g., Braud, 1981, 1985; Persinger, 1989). If replicated these patterns seem likely to tell us something meaningful about the nature(s) of these phenomena. A series of studies has been conducted at UCN that are intended 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.
This presentation will describe studies 2 and 3 in that series. Following earlier work (Roe, Davey & Stevens, in press) in study 2 we were particularly concerned to gauge the effect upon performance of the mild deception inherent in the study design. Forty participants completed a computer-based greyhound racing game. Races occurred in two blocks of 12. One block was presented as an ESP task and required participants to nominate which of the six greyhounds had won a race that the computer had already run silently. The program then replayed the race as feedback. The other block was presented as a PK task and required participants to 'will' a greyhound that was selected for them to run faster than its competitors. The greyhound's movements were determined in real time by an RNG. However, within each block half the races were in fact ESP trials and half PK trials, presented in random order. Participants were randomly allocated to one of two conditions; in the uninformed condition participants were not aware that some trials would be disguised in this way, but those in the informed condition were accurately briefed. Performance was non- significantly below chance for both ESP and PK trials, and for both true and disguised trials. There were no significant relationships between performance in the four conditions, although the effect sizes were of a similar magnitude and direction to those found previously. Participants who had been accurately briefed performed significantly worse than did those who were subject to mild deception (Z = -2.53, p = .01). Only one of the individual differences measures was able to significantly predict task performance, and this seems likely to have arisen as a result of multiple analyses. Reasons for participants' poor performance at the task are considered, some of which will be considered in future research. In study 3 we were particularly concerned to gauge the effect upon performance of participants' arousal level. Forty participants completed a computer-based greyhound racing game similar to that described above except that all participants were subjected to mild deception. Half of the sample was given instructions intended to calm them and listened to calming music as they participated. The other half of the sample was given instructions intended to increase arousal and listened to arousing music as they participated. The results of this study will be presented during the talk.
Braud, W. G. (1981). Psi performance and autonomic nervous system activity. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 75, 1-35.
Braud, W. G. (1985). ESP, PK and sympathetic nervous system activity. Parapsychology Review, 16(2), 6-16.
Irwin, H. J. (1985) Is psi a unitary domain? Analysis in terms of performance patterns. Parapsychological Journal of South Africa, 6, 34-46.
Kelly & Kanthamani, 1972;
Persinger, M. A. (1989). Psi phenomena and temporal lobe activity: The geomagnetic factor. Research in Parapsychology, The Scarecrow Press, 121- 156.
Roe, C. A., Davey, R., & Stevens, P. (in press). Are ESP and PK aspects of a unitary phenomenon? A preliminary test of the relationship between ESP and PK. Journal of Parapsychology.
Schmeidler, G.R. (1973). PK effects upon continuously recorded temperature. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 67, 325-340.
Schmeidler, G.R. (1994b). PK: Recent research reports and a comparison with ESP. In S. Krippner (Ed.) Advances in parapsychological research vol 7. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. pp. 198-237.
Taiwan has various practices for enhancing human performance. The evaluation of these techniques is of interest to the academic community. The first author, a Taiwanese academic himself, is undertaking a doctorate in Psychology in order to learn more about the scientific methods used to evaluate such techniques. The research project itself is focused on exercises that appear to enhance cutaneous acuity in the fingertips of children. Children for whom the techniques seem successful report that visual experiences accompany their successful trials. This claim has some support from recent electrophysiological studies indicating that in some early-blind participants, visual experiences accompany success at Braille tasks and that there is corresponding activity in primary visual cortex. Participants will receive training and their acuity measured, using improved techniques and with systematic variation of task difficulty. Electrocortical measures will be taken, and models developed to account for the effects observed. The relationship between psychological factors, paranormal belief, and personal religiosity will also be investigated. Finally, We will present the initial study result.
Repudiation of dumbfounding experiences when reviewed in the cold light of the following morning is a commonly experienced feature in the literature of psychical research. Examples will be presented where witnesses who have confirmed their unqualified conviction of the genuineness of phenomena witnessed or experienced, find themselves unable to accept them, or their logical implications. They date from the earliest years of psychical research in the 1870s but continue to be a feature today.
The author will argue that this morning-after syndrome is simply one manifestation of a universal characteristic, which for centuries has retarded the acceptance of new ideas and fresh discoveries. In its more extreme form it is not unknown for the victims to resort to misrepresentation and even fraud in order to avoid the consequences of admissions, which would seriously damage their ingrained belief systems. The phenomenon is most frequently experienced in the more spectacular and hence controversial fields of psychical research, and not infrequently exhibits itself as a refusal to examine evidence or participate in experiments on the grounds that they relate to or claim things that are inherently impossible and hence time wasting. This is the morning-before syndrome, and is a device through risk avoidance to guard against the possibility of attack by the morning-after syndrome.
An examination of the psychological process involved shows it to be closely akin to the physiological motor mechanism by which the body automatically musters defences to repel an unrecognised intruder, however friendly or life-saving the intention might be, e.g. when a transplanted organ is inserted. There is similar reaction when individuals experience phenomena whose implications are so profoundly disturbing to a settled frame of beliefs that an automatic rejection process starts to work until it overwhelms the offending experience. This it might do by outright denial, or by minimising, distorting or misrepresenting it until it becomes no longer threatening. It is normally a subconscious and unrecognised process. Appreciation of the tendency in all of us to experience this effect is the most potent weapon to defeat it.
A common variant of the morning-after rejection syndrome is its psychological parent, the boggle threshold: the point at which not so much the evidence but the apparent conclusions to which that evidence appears to point is the subject of arbitrary rejection. The threshold is irrational but universal, in that it is not confined to lesser intelligences, the ill educated or unsophisticated. It is also dangerous: examples of its recent effect in referees' reports on academic papers will be cited to show how commonly judgement of evidence is affected by what the experiencer's personal credibility limitation dictates. These are examples of the very common confusion of actual evidence with assumed meaning, and of the rejection of the former because of the influence of the latter.
It has been suggested by Broughton (1992) that if people have the ability to automatically and unconsciously affect and predict the world around them through psi, then those who are proficient in this may interpret psi events as simply being lucky. Empirical investigations into the relationship between luck and psi have yielded mixed results (e.g. Greene, 1960; Rammohan & Lakshmi, 1993; Smith, Wiseman, Machin, Harris & Joiner, 1997). Primarily, these studies have focused on the relationship between measures of psi ability and self-perceived luckiness. Yet, luck has rarely been defined and differing conceptualisations of what it is and how it functions serve to limit the value of measures of perceived luckiness as suitable yardsticks. Research by Wiseman, Harris & Middleton (1994) found that performance on a psi task was only related to the participants' perceived luckiness where they reported the belief that the psi task was independent of chance factors. This indicates the importance in ascertaining how people believe luck to function. Similarly, in a study of National Lottery performance, Watt & Nagtegaal (2000) found that those who believed that their luck could affect the outcome had significantly greater lottery success than those that that did not maintain this belief.
Several papers have investigated the varying types of beliefs about the nature of luck, and have surmised that luck may be believed to be an innate characteristic, a force bestowed by a powerful other, or a factor which may be controlled (Smith, Wiseman, Harris & Joiner 1996). Smith (1998) found that luck may also be believed to be purely random and has subsequently created the Luck Belief Questionnaire to assess the extent to which luck is believed to be controllable, uncontrollable or random.
The present study describes the development of an expanded luck beliefs questionnaire based on a qualitative analysis of Smith's (1998) semi-structured interviews conducted with self-perceived lucky and unlucky individuals. The numerous themes derived from this process were used to formulate an array of items for the new questionnaire which was distributed to a sample of respondents (103 of which returned usable data) and subjected to factor analysis. The simplest solution revealed an oblique four-factor structure of belief in luck composing of belief in controllable luck (Luck), random luck (Chance), fatalistic/divine luck (Providence), and metaphoric luck (Fortuity). The factor analysis was further replicated on a separate sample of 110 respondents revealing the same factor structure. The development of this questionnaire indicates a distinct diversity in what people believe luck to be and how it functions. Additionally, it calls for the identification of these differing types of belief in further research investigating the relationship between perceived luck and psi.
With much thanks to Matt Smith for making his data available for use.
Broughton, R. (1992). Parapsychology: The controversial science. London: Rider.
Rammohan, V.G., & Lakshmi, V.V. (1993). A comparative study of ESP under intentional vs. nonintentional conditions using the Rao-O'Brien paradigm. Journal of Indian Psychology, 11, 24-31.
Smith, M.D. (1998). Perceptions of one's own luck: the formation, maintenance and consequences of perceived luckiness. Doctoral Thesis: University of Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire, UK.
Smith, M.D., Wiseman, R., Harris, P., & Joiner, R. (1996). On being lucky: The psychology and parapsychology of luck. European Journal of Parapsychology, 12, 35-43.
Smith, M.D., Wiseman, R., Machin, D., Harris, P., & Joiner, R. (1997). Luckiness, competition, and performance on a psi task. Journal of Parapsychology, 61, 31-43.
Watt, C., & Nagtegaal, M. (2000). Luck in action? Belief in good luck, PSI-mediated instrumental response, and games of chance. Journal of Parapsychology, 64, 33-52.
Wiseman, R., Harris, P. & Middleton, W. (1994). Luckiness and psi: An initial study. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 60, 1-15.
Many people claim to have known who was calling before they picked up the telephone, or to have thought about someone for no apparent reason, who then called. We carried out a series of experiments to test whether or not people really could tell who was telephoning. Each participant had four potential callers and, when the telephone rang, had to guess who was calling before the other person spoke. By chance, the success rate would have been 25%. In a total of 571 trials, involving 63 participants, the overall success rate was 40%, with 95% confidence limits from 36 to 45%. The effect was hugely significant statistically (p = 4 x 10-16). We obtained similar positive effects when the calls were made at randomly chosen times, and when the calls were made at fixed times known to the subject in advance.
In further series of tests, participants were filmed on time-coded videotape throughout the experimental period. When the telephone began ringing, the participants said to the camera whom they thought the caller was, and in many cases also said how confident they felt in their guesses. The videotapes were evaluated "blind" by a third party. The callers were usually several miles away or, in some cases, thousands of miles away. As before, by guessing at random, there was a 25% chance of success. We worked with four participants. In a total of 271 trials, there were 122 (45%) correct guesses (p=1 x10-12). The 95% confidence limits of this success rate were from 39% to 51%.
With 40 participants, we compared the success rates with familiar and unfamiliar callers and found a striking difference. With familiar callers, 56% of the guesses were correct and, with unfamiliar callers, only 21% of the guesses were correct, not significantly different from chance. This difference between the responses was highly significant. We also investigated the effects of distance between the callers and participants. With overseas callers, at least 1,000 miles away, the success rate was 65% (n=43; p=3x10-8). With callers in Britain, the success rate was lower (35%). In most cases, the overseas callers were people to whom the participants were closely bonded. For the successful identification of callers, emotional closeness seemed to be more important than proximity.
We also investigated the telepathic anticipation of emails, using a similar experimental design. Each participant had four potential emailers and knew that an email would be sent by one of these four at a fixed time. A minute before this time, the participant had to guess who would be sending the email and send an email to the experimenter stating this guess. As in the telephone telepathy tests, there was an expectation of 25% success by chance. In 245 trials the average success rate was 45% (p=4x10-12). With familiar emailers, the success rate was 53% (p=1x10-14) and with unfamiliar emailers 30%, not significantly different from chance.
"Facts without a theory simply form a mob." - Professor Henry Sidgwick
"I can see no other escape from this dilemma ... that some of us should venture to embark on a synthesis of facts and theories, albeit with second-hand and incomplete knowledge of some of them and at a risk of making fools of ourselves." - Erwin Schrodinger
Well-known popular hypotheses regarding the paranormal transference of information are the super-psi hypothesis and the survival of bodily death. But the catch-all nature of super-psi in its strongest form is not a scientific theory in the Popperian sense since it cannot potentially be falsified. Those who have accepted the survival hypothesis have customarily done so because of some personal experience or by study of the Cross-Correspondences or well-authenticated spontaneous cases in which it appears to them that convincing evidence had been obtained that a deceased individual's personality, intelligence, memories and motivation have survived the death of the body.
The William James hypothesis, first formulated a century ago, forms a third theory, in which James, unable to believe in survival, proposed the existence of a 'cosmic psychic reservoir' continually recording each human being's life events. He suggested that mediums could tap into the deceased person's archive and download data, relating it to the sitter anxious for information suggestive of survival.
In re-examining the James' hypothesis, the authors offer evidence that it has been unjustly neglected beyond a passing mention from time to time in psychical research texts. Study of the theory has enabled them to formulate a set of four precise laws which predict, in the scientific sense, a wide range of paranormal phenomena. Using a diagram, named by the authors the James diagram, a number of examples of the predicted paranormal phenomena will be described, illustrated the close agreement between the predicted phenomena and observed and well-authenticated paranormal phenomena. Hopefully, detected discrepancies between predicted and observed phenomena will guide future research in this field.