This is a second articles in the series on Retro-PK by Bryan Williams. The first article was A Brief Intro to Retro-PK.
A Lunar Modulation Effect on Retro-PK?
It has been thought that one way in which we might come to better understand (and perhaps eventually predict) the workings of psi phenomena is to search for any physical variables whose changes might be connected in some way with psi performance, and might therefore have a modulating effect on psi. One possible variable that has come to light in recent years is the Earth’s own internally-generated magnetic field, which studies suggest may decrease successful ESP performance as it increases in intensity (Persinger, 1989). A few recent studies are beginning to suggest the possibility that there may be another, lesser-known variable: certain phases of the monthly lunar cycle.
A great deal of myth and folklore has been traditionally associated with the phases of the moon throughout many human cultures since ancient times (Guiley, 1991). For example, in Celtic lore, midnight at the time of a full moon was considered “the witching hour,” and people were assumed to turn into werewolves under the full moon. Certain major holidays in the Christian and Jewish religions (Easter and Passover, respectively) are timed according to the lunar cycle. Even the term “lunatic” derives from the ages-old assumption that the light of the full moon made people crazy. In order to separate fact from fiction, several psychological studies have been done over the past few decades to see if any kind of human activity (e.g., murders, suicide attempts, crimes, trauma & mental hospital admissions, traffic accidents, stock market activity) might be tied in some way to the lunar cycle. Some of these studies found positive indications (Alonso, 1993; Geller & Shannon, 1976; Lieber & Sherin, 1972) while others found none (Coates et al., 1989; Culver et al., 1988; Rotton & Kelly, 1985), suggesting that any possible relation between the moon and human behavior was unclear and that the case was still up in the air.
The cat named Oscar, in Providence, R.I., nursing home, seems to be able to predict the deaths of its residents. When he senses their time is near, Oscar goes to the room, jumps onto the bed, curls up next to the patient, and purrs. The cat has now been correct over 25 times and it has come to this that the nursing home’s staff calls the family members of the patients whom the cat “marked”.
The cat, now 2 years old, has been living in the nursing home since it was a kitten. It comes to dying patients usually 2 hours before they die, sometimes half a day earlier. The staff doesn’t know how it happens that the cat “knows” but most people think that the body of a dying person produces certain odors and that the cat can smell them. There are some other possibilities as well, but nothing is concrete.
There are many sources for this story, you can read one of them at cbsnews
What do you think about this story? Discuss in the forums
A new forums member, pacificwhim, ask the following question:
I’m a journalist and I’m researching a book about alternative healing and medicine. But as a journalist, I have to approach the subject from a healthy skeptic’s point of view. Does anyone know if there is any credible research that’s been done showing that these energy healing methods actually work?
His question is parts of an interesting thread started by RainCrow, who ponders about the source of energy in energy healing methods
Anybody, knowing about these subjects is asked to contribute to them in forums. Those who haven’t visited it please, please do and take an active part in the discussions.
I’ve contacted a guy, Bryan Williams, who publishes great parapsychology articles on a yahoo group named Psi Society. He allowed me to post his articles on this site as well, verbatim. I only allow myself to reformat them a bit for the site. I believe you’ll enjoy them. The first three articles I’ll post will be on retroactive psychokinesis, also called Retro-PK. So, without further due:
A Brief Introduction to Retro-PK
An interesting study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Parapsychology that reports a possible lunar modulation effect on retroactive psychokinesis effects. Before I attempt to describe the results of that study in a post, I thought I would provide a little background on retroactive psychokinesis for those in this group unfamiliar with the concept so that it a bit more clear as to what I am talking about in the post:
Precognition is often considered to be most perplexing form of ESP because it appears to be retrocausal; that is, it seems to involve a “backwards acting in time” process in which an effect appears to precede it cause, counter to our usual assumptions that cause leads to effect. It turns out that psychokinesis (PK, or “mind over matter”) occurring on the microscopic (i.e., subatomic) scale also appears to be capable of producing a “backwards acting in time” effect of its own, and this effect is called retroactive psychokinesis, or “retro-PK,” for short.
One of the first to report statistical evidence for retro-PK effects was physicist Helmut Schmidt (1976), then of the Mind Science Foundation in Texas, who was also the one to introduce the random number generator (RNG) to parapsychology as a useful apparatus for testing microscopic PK. In a regular PK test conducted in real-time, a subject attempts to mentally influence the electronic “coin-flips” of a binary RNG as the RNG is producing them. What Dr. Schmidt did differently in his study is that he had the RNG produce the “coin-flips” before the subject even attempts to influence them (how much time before ranged from hours to even days), recording the results on magnetic tape without anyone looking at what they were. Later on, during the actual test, Dr. Schmidt would play back the tape with the recorded RNG data to the subject, at which time the subject would try to influence them. But wait a minute…if the RNG data are already recorded on tape, and are thus already assumed to be “set in stone,” how can the subject possibly influence them by PK? This is where the “backwards acting in time” assumption comes in. Since the RNG data are already recorded, it would seem that in order to influence the data by PK, the subject would have to direct his or her PK influence backwards in time to the moment that the data were being recorded1.
As impossible as it may sound, all three of Dr. Schmidt’s (1976) initial experiments did indeed produce results supportive of an ostensibly backwards-acting PK effect, with the results having statistical odds ranging from twenty to one, to nearly a thousand to one, against chance occurrence. When he then compared these retro-PK results with regular PK results, he found little difference between them, suggesting that both worked nearly the same. Nearly two decades later, Dr. Schmidt (1993) had repeated these experiments under the close, watchful eyes of five outside witnesses (who were psychologists, physicists, or other parapsychologists), producing a combined retro-PK effect that had odds of about 8,000 to 1 of not being due to chance alone.
Since Dr. Schmidt reported his first retro-PK study in 1976, many other parapsychologists have attempted to reproduce his work by conducting retro-PK studies of their own, and by the time that Dr. Schmidt had reported the second study in 1993, 16 other studies by eight different researchers had also been reported. Dr. Dick Bierman (1998) of the University of Amsterdam carried out a meta-analysis of all of the retro-PK studies conducted by Schmidt and others between 1975 and 1993 to see how robust the effect really was, finding that together they produced evidence for a positive retro-PK effect that had statistical odds of around 18 million to 1 against chance.
Stimulated by these retro-PK results, Matthew Watkins and John Walker founded the RetroPsychoKinesis Project, a long-term, Internet-based retro-PK experiment that is hosted on Walker’s Fourmilab website (http://www.fourmilab.ch/rpkp/). Since 1996, the project has been running individual retro-PK experiments using data recorded and saved beforehand from an RNG that uses radioactive decay as its source of randomness, and the results are updated in a daily summary. The project is ongoing, so it is possible for anyone on the Internet to participate in the retro-PK experiments (if you want to learn more or even participate in the experiments, go to the Web address above). It is the data collected as part of the Fourmilab RetroPsychoKinesis Project since 1997 that was used in the study of a possible lunar modulation effect on retro-PK, which I will discuss in a post to follow.
1 There is actually an alternative approach to retro-PK that sidesteps the “backwards acting in time” assumption, but since this approach requires knowledge of certain concepts of quantum physics that many in this group may not have and would require me to make this post much longer than it already is to explain them in simpler terms, I won’t get into it here.
Schmidt, H. (1976). PK effect on pre-recorded targets. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 70(3), July. pp. 267 – 271.
Schmidt, H. (1993). Observation of a psychokinetic effect under highly controlled conditions. Journal of Parapsychology 57(4), December. pp. 351 – 372.
Bierman, D. J. (1998). Do psi phenomena suggest radical dualism? In S. R. Hameroff, A. W. Kazniak, & A. C. Scott (Eds.) Toward a Science of Consciousness II: The Second TUSCON Discussions and Debates (pp. 709 – 713). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/Bradford.
I’ve almost finished reading Dean Radin’s book Entangled Minds : Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. I would post half the book here if it was legal. Anyway, near the end of the book, Dr. Radin summarizes his meta-analysis of the psi research, which he presented in the main part of the book. By the way, his combined odds against chance of all the 1019 studies that he analyzed is an astounding 1.3×10103 to 1 (which also equals to 1300
googles googols). That’s quite a number to disregard.
Then he writes on skepticism: “In spite of the evidence, many remain skeptical”. He then writes about three factors that contribute to “reasonable doubt” (page 278 in the book):
- No fool-proof recipe to guarantee 100% success of a psi experiment. Yet, he writes, that after billions of dollars spent on cancer research there’s also no guarantee of even a successful diagnosis of cancer, moreover no guarantee of a getting healed.
- Most scientist are not aware of the body o evidence regarding psi. Even though some articles on psi research do get published in some mainstream scientific journals, they are much outweighed by regular scientific literature and are easy to overlook.
- The principal reason for persistent skepticism, in Radin’s opinion, is that “scientific truths do not arise solely through the accumulation and evaluation of new evidence. In particular, consensus opinion advances through authoritative persuasion. This is not how it’s to work in an ideal world… Use of rhetorical tactics like ridicule are especially powerful persuaders in science, as few researchers are willing to risk their credibility and admit interest in ‘what everyone knows’ is merely superstitious nonsense”.
How do you think is he close to the truth in this? Discuss in forums
The author of The Trickster and the Paranormal, George P. Hansen has started a new blog, The Paranormal Trickster Blog. His only post so far is about a conference that will be held in Vancouver, BC. The conference, called A meeting of minds should have taken place on July 15-16, 2007. Jonathan Schooler and Dean Radin are co-hosts.
Hansen lists the invitees that include psychologists, neuroscientists, members of scientific community, members of the skeptic community and more people. The list in more detail in Hansen’s post. What’s interesting in the conference is the purpose:
The expressed purpose of the conference is to explore why academia so actively avoids the paranormal despite the wide interest by the general public.
To acquaint the visiting scientists with the field and to facilitate discussion, parapsychologists will present evidence for the existence of ESP and review theoretical problems of the phenomena.
George Hansen then comments that in his opinion this conference will change nothing and that the parapsychologist should blame themselves for this. Here’s quite a long quote of his commentary:
Will this effort succeed? Let’s remember, it’s been 125 years since the founding of the SPR (Society for Psychical Research). Parapsychologists have published their work continuously since that founding. Innumerable scientists have learned of the research through books, journal articles, and conferences. Yet the field is now no closer to respectability than it was during the 19th century. Arguably, it is further from it.
Yet still today, many parapsychologists seem to believe that if they present their evidence objectively to other scientists, the broader scientific community will begin to accept them as legitimate members. Traditional scientific funding sources will welcome proposals, major journals will seek papers on psi, and conferences will regularly include symposia on paranormal topics. But such hope is forlorn.
Parapsychologists do not seem to realize that their field is inherently marginal. Psi phenomena are liminal, and they carry a taint, a stigma. This is nothing new. The stigma did not develop with the rise of modern science, nor with advent of the Enlightenment, nor with the Reformation. The stigma has been seen for thousands of years in hundreds of cultures. Attempts to directly engage psi has consequences—one being the continuing marginality of psychical research.
Until parapsychologists recognize this state of affairs, they will remain bewildered—and bitterly disappointed.
NBC has announced that Uri Geller and Chriss Angel (Mindfreak) will be appearing in a new TV reality show called “Phenomenon” (working title) this fall.
The show’s format was bought from Israeli Keshet Broadcasting. The original show in Israel’s channel 2 was called “The Successor” and it was a great hit in Israel’s prime time. The format is somewhat similar to the popular American Idol format where contestants (mentalists – stage magicians specializing in mind tricks) perform acts of seemingly paranormal ability, like telepathy etc. One contestants leaves the show each week, selected by Geller.
Geller and Angel will assist the Phenomenon contestants with their insight. The ultimate winner from the 10 participants will be selected by home viewers.
Phenomenon is a co-production of Granada America, Keshet Broadcasting, and Kuperman Productions in association with SevenOne International, which controls the worldwide rights to the show’s format.
Today I’m glad to announce the launch of the forum on the Mind-Energy.net site. The Parapsychology and alternative medicine forums at http://forum.mind-energy.net are place for the visitors and readers of mind-energy.net and all other internet users to talk about subjects of parapsychology and psi research and on the various topics of alternative medicine and energy healing.
In the forum you’ll find sections devoted to energy healing (EFT, Quantum Touch), personal practices, such as qigong and yoga, Traditional Chinese Medicine and your home remedies for various conditions.
Other topics including scientific debates on parapsychology and psi research as a place for the skeptics and supporters of parapsychology to delve into serious debates, a section on developing psi abilities and a place to post your question to the community describing your personal stories of unexplained character.
The last section is devoted to Mind-Energy.net site itself. On is a general discussion for your suggestions on the site’s content, design, goals etc. The other forum imports all blog posts off www.mind-energy.net to continue debates on the topics in the forum, which is better platform than the comments in the blog. In the near future, all the comments on the main site will be disabled and all commenters will need to use the forum instead. This will also improve spam protection and garbage comments.
You can subscribe to forum feeds using RSS as well, if it is easier for you.
My hope is that the forums will be a place for quality people. I’m going to attract some experts in the various related fields of knowledge to add value to the community.
You are welcomed to propose more forum topics, a different structure are help with moderation. If you hold yourself as an expert in any area, please let me know using the contact form as I might have something special for the experts.
So, head over to the Parapsychology and alternative medicine forums right now, register and start your discussions.
I wanted to write about Psi-wheel for some time and now that Pete sent his Jar and pendulum exercise and asked me to write about the Psi Wheel exercise, here some info on that.
I first mentioned Psi-wheel a long time ago in the post Telekinesis videos and instructions. Now, I’ve searched the internet once again to see if I can find something new that’s interesting.
But, first, what’s the psi wheel and why it’s interesting. So, psi wheel is a simple construct that can be built by anyone at their home using just plain paper and a needle. What makes it special is that its design makes it very light. And the general presumption is that it easier to influence light things using telekinesis than heavy things. In that sense psi wheel is even better that the pendulum in jar that Pete proposed, since it’s even easier to move. And this is one of the reasons why telekinesis proponents and want to be’s like to use it. The problem with it, though, is that it’s too easy to influence a psi wheel using regular means, like air currents, and that’s what I personally don’t like about it.
The instructions to construct the psi wheel are as follows (from Wikipedia entry on psi wheels):
A reader, Pete, has sent me the following psychokinesis exercise, including the image and the accompanying instructions. He had suggested that I post it on the site. This exercises requires a simple construction, described both in words and in the image and a dedication in order to achieve success. Pete says about 2 weeks of daily practice is needed for success. I’ve seen this exercise before but Pete’s image and instructions are really good. So, learn and practice the Jar and Pendulum exercise using the instructions below, note the warning Pete gives in the first paragraph:
There is a training exercise I started using a while back and I was wondering if you were familiar with it and if you had any pointers. Feel free to post it, however it may not be wise because of the massive headaches rookies can suffer if they push themselves.