Cassi Vieten and Dean Radin of IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences), announced a planned experiment at Burning Man 2012 to test Mind over Matter interaction. The participants will try to affect a Random Number Generator (RNG) using their minds. Their efforts will be visualized using a “Huge Freakin’ Laser”, as they say. The laser will turn greener as the deviation increases and more red as it increases.
The organizers believe that the large number of people present at Burning Man will have a mesurable effect on the RNGs. Dean Radin has performed similar experiments in a laboratory conditions, even with online participants but taking it into the public and into such a large event as Burning Man may have even better results and also an increased media exposure.
IONS is asking the public to support the experiment financially. Their goal is to raise $2000 “to pay for computers, RNGs, lasers, etc”.
You can donate at indiegogo.com
A reader of the blog sent me some pictures of the result of her spoon bending attempts.
She writes the Spoon bending instructions article helped her more than the spoon bending video, both of which were done by Shannan exclusively for this site.
The reader also wrote the following:
The first one was easy, but the second one i had lost my concentration in the middle of bending the spoon.
I read the article and then I tried it. I concentrated for several minutes. I focused only on the spoon, which is hard because I am paranoid. I rubbed the handle. Then I bent the spoon. The second time I tried i watched the video and it didn’t help as much as the article did.
As I wrote previously, if you’ve also tried to do some spoon bending and have some experience or pictures to share, please write me to email@example.com. We’d like to hear your stories.
If you feel the urge to comment that this proves nothing, it’s not scientific and he bent it with his hands, don’t bother. You’re right on all these accounts.
So, finally, here are the photographs as received:
If you thought that Miroslaw Magola (my interview with him), the magnetic man, is somehow unique in his abilities to stick object to his body, check out the photos from the supernatural contest that took place in Vientam, where people stuck objects on themselves, including some very heavy ones.
By the way, the winner held a block that weighs 70 lbs (32 kg) on his chest.
To the photos.
I’ve recently published my review of a documentary called “Something Unknown is doing we don’t know what”. The film researches the evidence behind the “Big Five” psi phenomena and I liked it greatly. Take a peek at my review for some more info. Today I’m glad to present you my interview with Renée Scheltema, the filmmaker and producer of Something Unknown (link to my review of the movie). Despite this being my 15th interview that I publish here on the site, this is the first one that I did live, using Skype. Please excuse our accents and non-professionalism. Also, I’d like to remind you that Renée and I opened a forum to discuss "Something Unknown" and its topics. Renée is going to be there as well to discuss it with you. In fact, she had already posted a short welcome message there. So come over and join us at forum.mind-energy.net. It’s right near the Skeptiko podcast forum, which you should also participate in, in my opinion. We had a very conversational tone with Renée and the interview starts right in the middle of a sentence.
You can read the redacted transcript below or listen to the audio using the player below or download the MP3 directly.
Renée Sceltema: …I hear what you’re saying because Professor Tart, he told me there’s actually – you could call it the “Big Seven.” But then there are two in the “maybe” category. And one is mediums, you know, talking to dead people which – that’s scientifically you can’t prove that. I investigated it but somehow there’s a reasoning that goes in circles. So I didn’t complete it. And then the other in the “maybe” category is near-death experiences.
Jacob: I actually wanted to ask you about these, as well.
Renée Sceltema: I researched it a little bit and then because Professor Tart said it’s in the “maybe” category I decided not to include these – the film was already very full as it was with information. Couldn’t get that in, as well.
Jacob: I see. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and why you decided to make this film?
Renée Sceltema: Okay, that’s in the film. I had those psychic experiences and I wanted to know whether I was deluding myself. I sort of knew that parapsychologists were doing research on this kind of stuff, but I hadn’t kept up. I’m not a “woo-woo” kind of person who believes all this stuff. Actually I don’t believe a lot of it.
But on the other hand, the first experience with my father was very strong. I guess in scientific terms you call it “crisis telepathy.” It happened when I was studying at the University of California, Berkeley, during the day. I would call my parents every three months. I had just phoned my parents a few days before. While I was with my nose in the books, there was this strong force that told me that I had to get up and phone them again. I remember walking down the street thinking: ‘This is weird. Why am I walking to the phone booth? There’s no reason for this. It’s the wrong time of the day.’
Then when I phoned, my brother picked up the phone, which is very unusual because he had left home and would never even pick up the phone. Then he told me my father had had a stroke and was fighting for his life at the intensive care. So that seared into my mind because I just picked up something there that was real and I guess it’s part of our survival instinct, no?
In Christianity, all these psychic experiences they call it “from the Devil” and it’s not been too long since they burned witches. And so according to this belief system all these psychic things are all thrown into one corner together with the witches and the weird soothsayers.
Long before that time, when we were living as Bushmen or Aboriginals, there would always be the Shaman who was capable of reaching beyond our minds; capable of doing these kinds of things. For them it was normal. So it’s only been in the past couple of centuries that psychic experiences have been suppressed.
I read a book long ago about Mutant Message Down Under, a beautiful book about an American woman who lives with the Aboriginals. She notes down what they experienced. They could heal; see remote view kangaroos, etc, just because it was just the only way to go.
So I guess it’s part of our survival instinct. So I didn’t regard it as abnormal when I had this experience with my sick father. I just thought, ‘Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.’
Also I guess, I’m at a certain age where I felt confident enough to tackle this kind of subject. I don’t think I would dare to make this film 25 years ago.
Jacob: Okay, it is also written there that you started to work on the film about 10 years ago. Why did it take so long?
Recently I have had the pleasure of seeing the DVD of a new movie called Something Unknown is doing we don’t know what…. This is an indie documentary filmed by Renée Scheltema that explores the science behind psychic phenomena. The award-winning movie, which was released in late 2009, is the best documentary that I’ve seen to date on this subject. Stay with me for a more detailed review of the film.
There are several things to like about Something Unknown, if you’re serious about learning more about ESP and psychic phenomena. First, the movie mostly focuses on interviewing and showing the work of the leading scientists in parapsychology, such as Dr. Dean Radin (Chief scientist of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, showing presentiment experiment), Dr. Rupert Sheldrake (biologist, talks about telepathic dogs, and telephony telepathy) and Professor Charles Tart, who guided Renée through the film and many more. Other names include Professor Gary Schwartz, Dr. Roger Nelson, Dr. Hall Puthoff, Dr. Edgar Mitchell, Dr. David Dosa and more. In short, the “casting” couldn’t be better.
Secondly, it shows these scientists in their homes or working environments, which is much more interesting than seeing them talking in “sterile” studios, which is what other movies that I’ve seen do. This adds an additional personal dimension to the experience of watching it.
Thirdly, the movie focuses on the “Big 5” psi phenomena, meaning the best 5 fields of parapsychological research which Professor Tart sees as having good evidence. These are: telepathy, clairvoyance, remote viewing, psychokinesis (telekinesis) and psychic healing. The film doesn’t talk at all about less researched areas such as mediumship or near-death experience (NDE).
It took Renée almost 10 years to shoot and edit this film, funding it from her own money, which says a lot about her determination and serious approach to this endeavor. She decided to go on this journey after having a couple of unexplainable experiences herself. I liked the movie so much that I asked Renée to let me interview her for Mind-Energy. I’m glad to tell that I’ve recorded the interview and will post it in a couple of days. So stay tuned.
What else is in the film? She met with Dr. Jack Houck, the organizer of PK parties and she also accompanied him to one of them. These are the famous PK parties which he holds in the US, where people bend spoons. Spoon bending is a thread throughout the film, being used to connect the various parts of it, although it’s not a scientific subject by itself.
There’s footage from Brazil of psychic surgeries, there are shots from other healing events and places. You see introductions about such projects such as Global Consciousness Project and Remote Viewing from the first hands, from the scientists themselves.
The film is 105 minutes long and is available on DVD in NTSC and PAL format. You can learn more about the film and purchase it on its official site.
With collaboration with Renée we’ve added a dedicated discussion forum for Something Unknown and its topics at Mind-Energy forums. Please join us in discussing it with Renée and other viewers.
I’ve received this book from Quest books for a review. The full title is The Force Is With Us: The Higher Consciousness That Science Refuses to Accept. The author, Thomas Walker, D.C is a chiropractic physician, master-level martial artist, professor of natural science, and former Green Beret.
I’ll start with going over the structure of the book, chapter by chapter, and will conclude with my impressions of it.
In the preface Thomas tells that he started this project back in 1995 and worked on the manuscript for seven years. Several years later, in 2008 his son Clint was dying of cancer. Before he passed away Clint had promised his father to “keep in touch”. And he kept his promise. According to Walker, numerous anomalous and highly improbably events have happened later that year, described in the preface.
The book has 10 Chapters, each touching different aspect of parapsychology, spirituality or research.
The first chapter, titled “The Force – From Ch’i to Cosmological Constant and Beyond”, Walker starts with the Chinese concept of Ch’i (also spelled Qi), which is what chinese call the Life-force. Ch’i is believe to flow in the body, mainly through a system called meridians, which are highly relevant into Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). He refers to 1960s research of Professor Kim Bong Han in which he identified a series of unknown ducts in the bodies of animals and people that followed the paths of acupuncture meridians. He later discovered 2 more networks of such ducts bring to greater interconnection of cells in the body. Later follows a story about how the knowledge of Qi was brought to the west in the 20th century and how it was tested in medical tests to be helpful. Following with some research that was done on Qi, he finishes with the research of Professor William Tiller of Stanford University in which he develops a new theory build upon Einstein’s cosmological constant.
Chapter 2 – New Dimensions: Perceptions beyond the Body – talks about Near Death Experiences (NDE), Out of Body Experiences (OBE), explains what psi and parapsychology is. Explains the main areas of psi research from its early history in late 19th century through the 20th, including detailed history of Stanford Research Institute (SRI) research into remote viewing, backed by CIA.
Chapter 3 – More Dimensions: The Body beyond the Body – tells about the more esoteric subject of human bodies beyond the physical, such as etherial, astral and further, based on Theosophy. Detailed history of Kirlian photography and its research is described.
Chapter 4 – Where Do We Go? Arguments for an Afterlife – delves deeper into the research of NDEs, reincarnation research by late Dr. Ian Stevenson. Wakers covers the subject of mediumship, both in history and in research, such as Gary Schwartz’s research. Ending the chapter a detailed story of the great magician Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Chapter 5 – Paranormal Panache: Superstars of Psychokinesis – tells about the rarer macro-psychokinesis events, starting with 19th century Daniel David Home , who even performed for emperor Napoleon III and Tsar Alexander II, researched, and never found cheating. He was most known for his ability to levitate objects and even himself. Following is the story of Nina Kulagina, heavily researched Russian woman with strong psychokinetic abilities. Later follows the story of most controversial Uri Geller. The chapters ends with an overview of micro-PK research by PEAR, Dr. Dean Radin and others.
Chapter 6 – Magnetically Magnificent: Exploring the Human Energy Field – starts with Mesmer and his research into fluidum (the force) and animal magnetism. The story continues with Baron Karl von Reichenbach, a promising chemist, discoverer of paraffin who changed his career path to research magnetism in humans, which brought him conclusion similar to that of Mesmer that it’s not regular magnetism but other force, which he called the odic force. Next is the story of English physician Walter Kilner, who on the turn of 20th century, found that he could see energy field around living organisms with special equipment. The chapter ends with more recent research by William Tiller and Chinese Dr. Zheng.
Chapter 7 – Orgasmic Outcast: Was Wilhelm Reich Right? – tells the famous story of Austria-born Wilhelm Reich, physician, whose writings were burned thrice – by German Nazis, by Soviets and by US government. Follower and of Freud and even the director of his clinic in Vienna, Reich linked many health issues with the flow of psychic energy, which he called Orgone energy. He decided to research orgone theory. Thomas Walter tells in detail about the history of his research and his life, which ended in US Prison in 1957.
Chapter 8 – Healing the Rift: Alternative Medicine Arrives – gets into the details of many studies done in the 20th century, following the introduction of Chinese medicine and other alternative medicine practices in the west. Numerous studies showed the intent of healers, such a prayer or applications of the force, whatever it’s called, can greatly and positively affect organisms, including humans. Special attention is paid to Therapeutic Touch and to Chiropractic.
Chapter 9 – Schlock Science: Who Makes the Call? – tells about the difficulties that scientists who challenge the status-quo encounter on their way. Starting with Thomas Edison and his electric bulb invention, following the discovery of cold fusion by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons. Then Walter talks about non-psi subject of Mars exploration and the Cydonia region research by Richard Hoagland and the lies of NASA regarding issues related to Mars research. The second half of the chapter leaves the “science” and goes on to describe the history of CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of Paranormal), established in 1976 and now called Committee of Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), started by Ray Hyman, James Randi, Marcello Truzzi and others. CSI is claiming to be an investigating organization but it appears to be a dogmatic Skeptical organization which denies any possibility of psi, without a deep look into things.
Chapter 10 – A Path with Heart: The Way Back Home – argues that the heart plays a more central role in the humans than just pumping the blood. Thomas describes various studies that suggest that not everything is controlled by the brain and that some neurological functions are scattered through the body.
Overall, I liked the book very much for several reasons. First, it is easy and fun to read. I simply enjoyed reading it, the text flowed smoothly. Secondly, I learned a lot of new stuff. Even though I thought I knew a lot about psi research, after reading such books as the Entangled Minds
by Dr. Dean Radin, I found a lot of subjects that I didn’t know about.
The book starts with the subject of Ch’i. Being a Qigong (Chi Kung) student myself for almost 3 years now, I tend to believe that there is something to it. I can relate to the fact that martial artists and Qigong masters can feel and “utilize” it.
The book goes over lots of subjects but has points where it goes deeper, telling about a specific person for several pages. So, even if I read about someone in short previously, I still found lots of new information.
Some might argue that the book is not scientific or that it doesn’t present the opposite point of view, i.e. criticisms of the studies. But having a chapter devoted to showing how science refuses to accept views that drastically differ from the status-quo and about the organized pseudo-skeptics, he clearly chose a side. I think it’s OK to write a book which shows what the author believes to be true. After all, there’s enough totally baseless criticism as well. And I also believe that the media and other establishments will much easier accept and transmit any skeptical argument, however vague, over a study proposing any psi effect.
In conclusion, I highly recommend the book to anyone who’s interesting in these areas of the paranormal or parapsychology which are presented in it. If you are a highly scientific person you’ll have 2 choices. Either skip the book or better yet, follow the studies present in the book (there is bibliography and notes) and try to read them yourself before deciding what’s right or wrong.
The Parapsychological Association (PA)
recently received a generous donation from Mrs. Marion Roller to establish
a new endowment for research. The Gilbert Roller Fund supports scientific
field investigations into macroscopic psychokinetic phenomena such as
those reported in sitter-groups, séances, and poltergeist activity,
and/or theoretical approaches to help explain the nature of such large-scale
Between now and May 1, 2009,
Mrs. Roller will match, dollar for dollar, any donations made to the
Gilbert Roller Fund to support this
important line of research. Traditionally most of the modest
support for parapsychological research has come from individuals and
foundations with the vision and courage needed to support science on
the cutting edge. Your contributions will enable qualified researchers
with professional knowledge of past investigations of this type to continue
to explore large-scale psychokinetic phenomena in the real world.
The PA provides a professional "home"
for scientists and scholars around the world who dare to investigate
phenomena shunned by mainstream science. Donations can be made to the Gilbert Roller Fund electronically by visiting their members site, or by check mailed to the Parapsychological
Association at P.O. Box 24173, Columbus, OH 43224. The PA is a 501(c)(3)
charitable organization and donations are tax-deductible in the USA.
I believe that if you’re somewhat interested in parapsychology or if you have seen the movie What the Bleep!? – Down the Rabbit Hole (you might like it if you liked The Secret movie or book) then you’ve heard about the study of Dr. Masaru Emoto, where he claims that people’s intentions change the structure of water crystals.
There was some criticism of the study and Dr. Dean Radin, with Dr. Emoto and other people decided to make a replication of this study, with tighter controls. The research was triple-blind, meaning that nobody knew everything – the people giving intentions, the raters, the photographers and researchers. All this should control for some biases that are usually present in loosly controlled experiments.
Now, Dr. Radin published some results of the research on his blog. Some excerpts:
An experiment tested the hypothesis that water exposed to distant intentions affects the aesthetic rating of ice crystals formed from that water. Over three days, 1,900 people in Austria and Germany focused their intentions towards water samples located inside an electromagnetically shielded room in California. Water samples located near the target water, but unknown to the people providing intentions, acted as "proximal" controls. Other samples located outside the shielded room acted as distant controls.
And some of the results:
Results suggested that crystal images in the intentionally treated condition were rated as aesthetically more beautiful than proximal control crystals (p = 0.03, one-tailed). This outcome replicates the results of an earlier (double blind) pilot test.
Some more information, including good Q&A in the posts comments can be found in the original post by Dean Radin. This may prove to be a very interesting and important experiment.
If it is proven that remote intention can change matter, then it’s a whole new world. This can explain remote healing, micro-psychokinesis and other aspects and effects of psi.
Burul Payne, a researcher of biofield, or spin force, and the creator of the Biofield Meter, posts results of his latest research.
Remote Healing Measured by the Biofield Meter
Buryl Payne, Ph. D. Psychology, Psychophysics Laboratories, P.O.
Box 514, Soquel, CA. 95073
A force around the human body different from electric, magnetic,
gravitic, photic, or thermal has previously been discovered and was
used in this research. Originally called a ‘biofield’ and now called a
‘spin force’, it was found to vary in amplitude with lunar phase, solar
activity, vitality of the subject and other factors. It was found to vary
in amplitude with intended remote healing attempts. In 17 out of 20
trials in this pilot study, with healers from 50 to 3,000 miles distant,
a clear change in amplitude of the spin force was observed.
Keywords: remote healing, subtle magnetism, biofield, spin force
It is known by experience that prayer and other means of
visualization at a distance enhance healing, although no satisfactory
explanation has been found to explain this effect. This study shows
the operation of a different type of force may be involved. Called a
spin force, torque, or rotational force, it is hypothesized to exist
around all living organisms.
Biological spin force was accidentally discovered by the author
while investigating ‘pyramid energy’ in 1976. The author’s device,
called a Biofield Meter, displays a spin force when placed around an
organism. It was found to exist around every human tested, a couple
of plants, a grapefruit, watermelon, cat, dog and horse. Presumably
it exists around all living organisms and its existence has been
observed by other researchers. The amplitude of rotation of the
Biofield Meter varies with solar and geomagnetic activity, changes
direction temporarily at times of new and full moon and varies to
some degree with the health of the subject.
Several researchers have observed some physiological changes in
humans as a response to remote healing. Ron Hruby, a retired NASA
electrical engineer, made his own version of the Biofield Meter and
hypothesized that it might respond to distant healing attempts on a
subject. He found this to be the case. In 18 trials with four
subjects, he found 100% correlation of changes of the Biofield Meter
amplitude of rotation with attempted healings by a small group ten
miles distant from the subject.
This study expands upon the work of Ron Hruby, and attempts to
verify his results while using variable distances between the healers
and the subjects.
Materials and Methods
The Biofield Meter consists of a square frame, made of 0.25 inch
diameter wood dowels, 16 in. on each side. Six ring magnets are centered on each dowel and 16
in. long strings are attached in the center of the six magnets on each
dowel. The strings angle to a center where a set of two mirrors of 1.5
inch diameter are glued back to back. A hook and additional string is
used to hang the apparatus over the subject’s head at eye level. The
device looks roughly like a pyramid frame.
In practice, the Biofield Meter rotates a few degrees after being
placed over a subject. Given an initial impulse, and because it is a
string suspension, the torque on the string, or winding force, limits
continuous rotational movement. It winds up and unwinds, in other
words, oscillating back and forth for a few minutes. The number of
degrees of initial rotation was used as a measure of spin force around
This experiment was conducted in Santa Cruz, California. Twenty
trials were conducted May to June, 2005. The first trial was
completed with a small group of remote healers in Sheffield,
Massachusetts, a distance of 3,000 miles from Santa Cruz. Three
Biofield Meters were set up around three subjects. The subjects’ first
names were supplied to the distant healers. The healers chose one
subject for the healing attempt, which was unknown to the observer.
A start time was determined for the healing attempt, and observation
of the biofield meters began at that time. Movement of the three
biofield meters were measured and recorded during the trial period.
Following the trial period, the name of the chosen subject was
revealed to the observer.
In addition to this initial trial, seventeen other remote healers were
invited to attempt distant healing on one of two subjects chose by the
experimenter. Seventeen subsequent trials involved one to three
subjects and one to four remote healers. It was not feasible to repeat
tests using multiple subjects as it was too difficult to coordinate
them. Two more trials were conducted on a radio show called ‘Out of
Time’ in Hot Springs, Arkansas. On this show the author invited the
listening audience to attempt remote healing on a subject sitting next
to him. There were two main subjects who where involved in most of
In the first trial, one of the three Biofield Meters rotated more than
720 degrees, (more than 2 complete rotations). Later phone
communication showed that this was the subject chosen for the
healing attempt. The subject did not report any sensations or feelings
at the time of the attempted healing or on the following days.
In seventeen out of twenty trials, the Biofield Meter showed
deflections from about 3 degrees to four full turns (1440 degrees)
around the subject chosen for healing. These seventeen included the
trials involving the radio show audience.
No obvious ‘healing’ effects or sensations were observed by one of
the two main subjects. The other subject felt sensations four times
which resulted in some healing one time. In three trials where it was
offered the remote healers correctly identified problem areas for one
JJ Lumsden is a UK based experimental parapsychologist who has just released his debut book “The Hidden Whisper” (See my review of The Hidden Whisper). Centring on a fictional poltergeist case in Southern Arizona, the book seeks to explain various aspects of parapsychology and where paranormal research currently stands. Lumsden gained his PhD at the Koestler Parapsychology Unit (University of Edinburgh), before moving into independent research.
Could you please start by telling about how and why you became a parapsychologist?
As a youngster, I was curious as to how things ‘worked’ in the world, and naturally intrigued by paranormal phenomena. This intrigue grew stronger as I got older; if telepathy and precognition, for example, were real – there were serious implications for our world view and how the universe operated. I didn’t enter the field because of any personal paranormal experiences, or because I wanted to prove or disprove anything. I just wanted to look into things for myself.
What do the studies of parapsychology in the Koestler Parapsychology Unit include?
Things have changed now, but when I attended (2000-2003), there was a buoyant set of research programmes in place. These were conducted by full-time staff, postgraduates working on their PhD studies, and undergraduates doing final year projects. We had a full Ganzfeld suite in the unit, so (as you can imagine) there was a fair amount of research into Extra Sensory Perception. In addition, there was Psychokinesis work, investigations into ‘haunted’ settings, and DMILS (Direct Mental Interaction with Living Systems) studies.
Between 1984 and 2003, almost two dozen people gained their PhDs at the KPU, but in recent years, following the untimely death of Professor Robert Morris in 2004, the unit has been substantially downsized. Nowadays, there are only two permanent members of staff, the laboratory space has been given up, and very few students are taken on. Today, Edinburgh University seems to prefer to focus resources on other areas of psychology.
What specific areas of parapsychology did you concentrate on?
I primarily investigated emotion and its bearing on Psychokinetic functioning (the idea that your mind can influence events in your environment).
Using ‘Random Event Generators’ to generate random data-streams of ones and zeros, (akin to lots of coin tosses with perfectly balanced coins) I looked at how highly emotive states like anger, sadness and happiness impacted on the behaviour of these devices.
Later on, I began to examine psychic healing (still using micro PK protocols), and spent time in Zululand, South Africa – working with indigenous healers (izangoma).
*The REG approach is a measure of so called micro-Psychokinesis. With micro-PK, we rely on statistical analyses to see if the behaviour of a measuring system (e.g. the REG) can be accounted for by ‘chance’ (i.e. the ones and zeros are summed, and compared with mathematical probability). This is in contrast to macro-PK events like levitation, where you can see the event with the naked eye.
What are your thoughts on the state of parapsychological research these days? After the PEAR has closed, there are not much research institutions left in the academia in the field. Why is that? Should it be different?
There’s little doubt parapsychology is going through a tough time right now, with a lack of funding and a lack of institutional support being the primary reasons.
In academia, particular research areas often come in and out of favour. Certain fields might find themselves lavished with resources one moment, and conversely, starved of them the next. I hope that parapsychology is simply experiencing a cyclical dip in appeal (and support), and that we are not witnessing any long term decline. Whilst the funding environment remains difficult, it will inevitably be more of a challenge to advance research programmes, and we should expect the field’s progress as a whole to slow.
Nonetheless, despite these tough times, parapsychology perseveres. In recent years, for example, Professor Deborah Delanoy has done sterling work at the University of Northampton, at the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes. Deborah has built up a unit of very capable and accomplished researchers doing valuable research. In turn, there are individual researchers dotted around various Universities who have an interest in parapsychology and who quietly work on their own experiments when they get an opportunity.
To return to the funding point, it should be pointed out that there remain a number of organisations who continue to support and promote parapsychology. These include, amongst others, the BIAL Foundation from Portugal, Trinity College, Cambridge (via the Perrot Warwick grants), and the Society for Psychical Research in the UK.
What areas of parapsychology are well researched, in your opinion, and which need much more effort?
Good question. I don’t think we’ve reached a point with any area of parapsychology where we can step back and declare: “aha – we’ve got it”. Psi (an umbrella term that’s often used when referring to ESP and PK together) is an elusive animal, and has a habit of tripping you up when you think you understand it. As I’m not holding my breath for a definitive experiment any time soon, it remains the case of patiently putting more evidence onto the pile.
Having said that, certain areas have been carefully researched for many years, and there comes a point when a sensible decision can be made as to whether more and more replications are needed, or whether we can move on – to new avenues of enquiry. The literature and meta-analyses from micro-PK research suggest the micro-PK is a valid, low order, but replicable effect. So the question that follows is how can we move things forward? Can we think of fresh methods to ramp up effects? Can we utilise new technologies to better measure the phenomena and the processes that underpin them? If a large cheque came though my letter box, I would love to instigate some MRI studies. In turn, I am always fond of experiments that try to break new ground with creative approaches. In recent years I’ve followed the Global Consciousness Project with great interest.
What are the most promising research areas in parapsychology in terms of establishing the fact that there’s something to it?
In terms of positive results, the Ganzfeld has shown itself to be an effective means of generating supposedly paranormal effects, as has the micro-PK/REG based research already mentioned. Of course, there is always the argument that these laboratory based investigations have limited crossover to the real world – which ultimately is something we need to address. But, once phenomena are established in the lab – it’s pretty likely they exist outside the lab in some way.
Some of the DMILS work has also enjoyed good results, and I’d like to see more of it, as I believe it should help us understand how psi might operate in the real world. If psi is real, it probably didn’t develop to enable us to influence the electrical current of Zener diodes (these form the basis of many Random Event Generators).
Going to your book, The Hidden Whisper, why did you write it? What was your goal in writing it? Do you think you’ve achieved this goal?
When people find out what I do, I get a whole spectrum of responses. Some smile and change the subject, others tell me it’s all nonsense, and others instruct me at great length on esoteric and quite unique universal theories.
In between, there are a lot of people who are unsure as to what parapsychology is, and what parapsychologists do. They would like to know more without enduring a lecture. So, The Hidden Whisper is for them.
Who is the targeted audience for the book?
I tried to write a book that could be picked up and enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their knowledge of parapsychology. I wanted to keep the book accessible and easy-going, and not get bogged down with lengthy didactic explanations. I also hope that people who enjoy mystery stories get a kick out of the narrative.
How much is Luke Jackson, the main character, based on yourself or perhaps other parapsychologists that you know?
Luke is a mix of real life people and fiction. I originally thought the book would take about a year to write, but it took three. Over that period Luke’s character morphed quite significantly. Luke Jackson (Mk.1) was very different to the one we see today.
Why did you select the case of poltergeist for the subject of the book. I would not consider poltergeist as a central aspect of parapsychology.
I wanted to write a book that hooked people into an interesting fast-paced story, and reckoned that mystery fiction – something with a central puzzle – was a good way to do so. I wanted to have an interesting plot which I could frame the science around. Poltergeists seemed to fit the bill.
How was the book accepted so far, by critics and by general audience?
So far, the reviews have been very pleasing… which is reassuring. A lot of time and effort was spent developing and writing the book, and if it had gone down like a lead balloon – I’d be in a right old grump. The ‘mix’ of fiction and expanded endnotes has been received especially well, which is good, as that was the riskiest part. A number of publishers I spoke with, advised me strongly against it.
One of the reviewers on Amazon suggested you write a series based on this character. Is this something you might want to consider?
There is another book, circulating in the back of my mind, but it is very different to The Hidden Whisper. I have no immediate plans to bring Luke back in any sequel, but you never know.
What other books on parapsychology could you recommend to people who are genuinely interested in it?
There are a number of good introductory books out there, including:
Irwin and Watt’s “An Introduction to Parapsychology”, Dean Radin’s “The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena”, and “Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence” (edited by Cardena, Lynn & Krippner).
Then, when you start to drill down into specific areas, there are numerous specialised titles. “Healing, Intention and Energy Medicine” (edited by Jonas & Crawford) is one I can recommend.
If people want to stay abreast of the latest research, the best thing to do is get hold of parapsychology journals, such as the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, the Journal of Parapsychology, the European Journal of Parapsychology, and the Journal of Scientific Exploration.
At the end of the book, you write about the skeptic-believer debate and how both sides need to consider that they might be wrong. What are your thoughts on the state of this debate today?
The broad ‘uninformed’ debate will tick along regardless of the facts. You find people on both sides who hold views that appear to bear no relation to the evidence. The debate between informed critics and advocates of the paranormal is more interesting in many ways, because it is one of interpretation. Informed critics are aware of the experiments and the positive results generated – it’s now a question of what they mean…
At the end of the day, I simply suggest that people form their own opinions by looking into parapsychology for themselves, from a fair and impartial starting point. It is up to both sides of the debate (proponents and sceptics) to put across their positions convincingly. They should do this backed up by evidence, not rhetoric or conjecture.
Let me thank JJ Lumsden for this great interview. I wish him best luck both in his parapsychology research and his writing career.