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Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Dr. Larry Dossey

Dr. Larry Dossey

Dr. Larry Dossey is a physician specializing in internal medicine who is well known for his writings and lectures about the important influence of spirituality and consciousness studies on health. He has written extensively on the value of alternative medicine and on the concept of a nonlocal mind and its implications for our understanding of consciousness, the subject of his 12th and most recent book One Mind:  How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters (Carlsbad, CA:  Hay House. 2013).

 

Dossey One Mind

Larry, whom I met sometime in the 1980s in a conference, is the Executive Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Explore: The Journal of Science and HealingHis accomplishments, as seen in the selected bibliography after the interview, are many. He was granted a Visionary Award in 2013, in honor of his positive influence on medical practice and the medical profession in general.

Interview

How did you get interested in parapsychology?

LeShan Medium, Mystic, Physicist 2I read Lawrence LeShan’s The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist on my honeymoon in 1972, which was a quite interesting experience. My intellectual curiosity about the field continued growing when I entered the practice of internal medicine in the 1970s. Early key books included John White’s Future Science, Hal Puthoff and Russell Targ’s Mind-Reach, Sir John Eccles’s The Wonder of Being Human, Henry Margenau’s The Miracle of Existence, Ken Wilber’s Quantum Questions, Jeffrey Mishlove’s The Roots of Consciousness, and Nick Herbert’s Quantum Reality.

Intrigued, I attended the Physics and Consciousness seminars at the Esalen Institute in the 1970s, where a passionate band of young physicists was grappling with the intersection of quantum physics and consciousness — Jack Sarfatti, Nick Herbert, Saul-Paul Sirag, Fred Alan Wolf, George Weissman, and others. Some of them were fascinated with parapsychology. Physicist Nick Herbert, an expert on nonlocality, took me under his wing and mentored me for several years.

During my first year of internal medicine practice I had several precognitive dreams that proved eerily accurate. This profoundly shifted my interest in psi events from the intellectual to the personal, and how they can be important in health and healing.

I began to realize that medicine, my profession, rested on a view of the world that has been transcended by the quantum-relativistic worldview and which prohibited psi phenomena. My first book, in 1982, Space, Time & Medicine, explored the questions: What would medicine look like if the new worldview were taken seriously? What changes would be necessary in our fundamental assumptions about birth, life, health, therapy, disease, and death, and what possibilities for psi were enfolded in the new views? These considerations led to a full-on confrontation with the literature of parapsychology.

Dossey Space Time Medicine

What are your main interests in the field and how have you contributed to its development?

In 1987 I introduced the term nonlocal mind into the written English language in my book Recovering the Soul. Since then, nonlocal mind, nonlocal consciousness and nonlocal awareness have been widely employed in the lexicon of consciousness studies and parapsychology. This reflects my main interest: the nonlocal nature of the mind, its relevance to healing, and the spiritual implications of a mind that is nonlocal with respect to space and time. Much of this interest involves boilerplate psi, such as remote, distant, or psychic healing, which is often considered a psychokinetic phenomenon.

In medicine, my field, parapsychology unfortunately remains a largely taboo subject, smothered by a thoroughly materialistic, wholly local ideology that survives only by deliberately excluding contrary evidence. I have spoken widely in favor of a nonlocal view of mind and its relevance to healing in medical schools throughout the US and abroad, always emphasizing empirical, replicated evidence that illuminates the inadequacies of medicine’s narrow materialistic worldview. In twelve books and hundreds of articles, essays, editorials, and lectures, I’ve stressed the scores of studies showing that the compassionate intentions of an individual can alter the physiology of a distant individual or nonhuman biological system. It has made a difference. In 1993, when my book Healing Words was published, only three of the 125 US medical schools had any type of course work exploring this kind of evidence; now roughly two-thirds of US medical schools have a place in their curricula where the evidence for remote healing is discussed.

Dossey Healing Words

I have served for ten years as the executive editor of Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, which is one of the few peer-reviewed, widely listed journals cordial to publishing psi-oriented material. A special issue of Explore on the subject of nonlocal mind is in press, guided by Explore’s coeditor-in-chief and psi researcher Dean Radin.

OC.indd

Why do you think that parapsychology is important?

Parapsychology is incalculably important to human welfare. It is a corrective to the morbid detour in human thought in the West that has masqueraded as scientific truth for three centuries. The greatest contribution of parapsychology, in my view, is its demonstration that some aspect of consciousness is nonlocal or unconfined to specific places in space, such as brains and bodies, and unconfined to specific locations in time, such as the present. A consciousness that is nonlocal with respect to space is omnipresent; a consciousness that is nonlocal with respect to time is temporally infinite, therefore in some sense immortal and eternal. While no one knows for certain what these generalizations ultimately entail, they can nonetheless relieve humans of the expectation of the total annihilation of consciousness with physical death, a fear that has caused more suffering throughout human history than all the physical diseases combined.

Parapsychology, in other words, reveals that there are no firm spatiotemporal boundaries to the mind. If minds are fundamentally boundary-less, in some sense they must be unitary — the theme of my recent book One Mind.

Psi is also important because it confers a survival advantage for embodied creatures, as in countless instances in which danger is anticipated, illness is portended, and accidents thwarted — all of which exist because of the temporally nonlocal aspect of human consciousness.

Psi may also account for great leaps in creativity and discovery, as in the case of Thomas Edison, who claimed that he “never created anything” but got his ideas “from the Universe at large…from outside.”

Carpenter First SightAll told, psi may be so crucial to human function as to justify its elevation from “second sight” to “first sight,” as psi researcher James Carpenter suggests in his seminal book First Sight.

In your view, what are the main problems in parapsychology today as a scientific field?

Many problems are painfully obvious: underfunding, understaffing, and undervaluation within the scientific community. It is also claimed that a major problem is lack of supportive data. But as Radin, Tressoldi, Utts, Mossbridge and others have recently argued, the extant data supporting several areas of parapsychological research is astronomically colossal. Of course we should always welcome additional evidence. But what is also crucial is an awakening within science to the nonlocal operations of consciousness that have already been amply demonstrated.

In any case, we need to do a better job in showing why psi is juicily important to people’s lives, and how the revelations of psi research can supply hope and meaning in a troubled age. By emphasizing how psi is important to the public at large, we can help create a cultural womb in which the paranormal can gestate and be midwifed without appearing foreign or threatening.

We should be talking not only about problems but promises as well. Along with others, I believe important changes are taking place in key areas of science, such as biological entanglement, that bode well for the eventual acceptance of parapsychology.

Can you mention some of your current projects?

I have recently published a twelfth book, as mentioned, which is aimed at a lay audience: One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters. It affirms all the main categories of psi research, and the premise that beyond our personal mental experiences there is a domain of nonlocal, infinite consciousness that includes all individual minds. It’s an ancient theme, but it has gained enormous traction because of various lines of modern evidence.

My main “project,” however, is simply to continue serving as an ambassador (or gadfly) for nonlocal mind — writing, editing, and lecturing about how the nonlocal operations of consciousness are relevant to the physical and spiritual well-being of us struggling humans.

I should confess, however, that I am not, strictly speaking, a psi researcher. But one of the greatest joys of my life has been the generous support and inclusion I have received from the psi research family, to whom I extend warmest nonlocal gratitude.

Selected Publications

Books

One Mind:  How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters.  (Carlsbad, CA:  Hay House. 2013)

The Power of Premonitions:  How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives.  (New York:  Dutton/Penguin,  2009)

The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things (New York:  Harmony/Random House, 2006). 

Healing Beyond the Body (Boston: Shambhala, 2001)

Reinventing Medicine (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999)

Be Careful What You Pray For (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997)

Prayer Is Good Medicine (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996)

Healing Words: The Power of Prayer in the Practice of Medicine (San Francisco:  HarperSanFrancisco, 1993)

Meaning & Medicine (New York: Bantam, 1991)

Recovering the Soul (New York: Bantam, 1989)

Beyond Illness (Boston: New Science Library, 1984)

Space,Time & Medicine (Boston: New Science Library, 1982)

Articles

Dossey L.  Spirituality and Nonlocal Mind:  A Necessary Dyad.  Spirituality in Clinical Practice. 2014; 1(1): 29-42.

Schwartz SA, Dossey L.  Nonlocality, intention, and observer effects in healing studies:  laying a foundation for the future.  Explore (NY).  2010; 6(5): 295-307.

“Healing Research: What We Know and Don’t Know.” EXPLORE:  The Journal of Science and Healing.  2008; 4(5): 341-352.

“Premonitions.” EXPLORE:  The Journal of Science and Healing.  2008; 4(2): 83-90.

“Nonlocal Knowing: The Emerging View of Who We Are.” EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing.  2008; 4(1): 1-9.

“Distant Nonlocal Awareness: A Different Kind of DNA.” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.  2000;6(6): 10-14, 102-110.

“Distance Healing: Evidence.” In: Schoch RM, Yonavjak L (eds.) The Parapsychology Revolution: A Concise Anthology of Paranormal and Psychical Research. New York, NY:  Tarcher/Penguin; 2008: 216-231.

“Nonlocal Mind: Why It Matters.” In: Vision and Values: Essays in Honor of Dr. D.S. Kothari on His Birth Centenary. L. K. Kothari and R. K. Arora, eds. New Delhi: Paragon International Publishers; 2006.

Dosssey L, Hufford DJ. Are prayer experiments legitimate? Twenty criticisms. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing.  2005;1(2): 109-117.

“Nonlocal Consciousness and the Revolution in Medicine.” In Dawson Church and Geralyn Gendreau (eds.) Healing Our Planet, Healing Our Selves. Santa Rosa, CA:  Elite Books; 2005: 149-158.

“Prayer and Healing.”  In New Frontiers of Human Science  (V. Gowri Rammohan, ed.)  Jefferson, NC:  McFarland & Company, Inc.; 2002:30-45.

“Scientific Research Confirms the Value of Prayer in Healing.” In:Healing Through Prayer.  Toronto, Canada:  Anglican Book Centre; 1999:28-42.

“Prayer, medicine, and science:  the new dialogue.” Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy. 1998; 7(1&2):7-37.

“Distance, time, and nonlocal mind:  dare we speak of the implications?” Journal of Scientific Exploration 1996;10:3, 401-410

“Distant intentionality: an idea whose time has come.”  Advances in Mind-Body Medicine. 1996;12(3):9-13

“Healing, energy, and consciousness:  into the future or a retreat into the past?” Subtle Energies.  1994;5(1):1994, 1-33.

“But is it energy?  reflections on consciousness, healing, and the new paradigm.” Subtle Energies 1992;3(3): 69-82.

“Nonlocal Mind and Health.” In Scott Miners, ed., Give Yourself  Health  Seattle, WA: Turning Point Press, 1990: 75-93.

 

 

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Over the years there have been several experiments that have tested the effect of intentions on biological matter, such as seeds, plants, bacteria, and organic matter. It does not seem to be general knowledge that there were attempts of this sort reported in the mesmeric literature.

Mesmerism 6

 

Ricard TraiteAn example came from J.J.A. Ricard, a French magnetizer who gave many demostrations of the effects of animal magnetism. He wrote in his book Traité Théorique et Pratique du Magnétisme Animal ou Méthode Facile Pour Apprendre a Magnetiser (Theoretical and Practical Treatise of Animal Magnetism or an Easy Method to Learn to Magnetize. Paris: Germer Baillière, 1841)

“Plants like animals may feel, from man’s magnetism, dire or advantageous influences, according to the intention of the acting will. I have not been able to do with plants as many tests as I have done on animals; nevertheless I have magnetised several shrubs . . . and I have succeeded completely . . .  a weak shrub, in an extreme state of deterioration, magnetized each day, morning and evening, became a remarkable beauty with a remarkable strength in less than one month, while on the contrary another shrub of the same family, an admirable plant, placed under the same conditions as the first . . . and magnetized the same period of time with contrary intentions, lost its leafs gradually, lost its greenery, and became completely worn out. I repeated these tests rather often to appreciate the good and the bad influence which one can exert, through magnetism, on plants” (pp. 334-335).

The mesmeric literature offers many other examples of such effects, such as the one authored by Dr. Picard, a physician from Saint-Quentin (“Application du Magnétisme aux Végétaux” [Application of magnetism on plants]. Journal du Magnétisme, 1845, 1, 477-480). Out of six roses planted on April 5, Picard magnetized only one in the morning and in the evening for around five minutes. On the tenth, the one that was magnetized, already had two shoots about one inch in length, and on the 20th the other five had barely started to grow. On May 10, the magnetized one had two shoots “40 centimeters high, with ten buttons on top, while the others had 5 to 10 centimeters, and the buttons were far from appearing. Finally, the first bloomed on May 20, and gave successively ten beautiful roses! … Its leaves were about double in length than those of other roses.” (p. 78).

Journal du Magnetisme 1845

These old reports may not offer much methodological rigor when looked from the point of view of modern research techniques, but they are of historical interest to modern researchers interested in mental influence on biological systems.

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Frederic W.H. Myers

Frederic W.H. Myers

I just published an article about Frederic W.H. Myers entitled “Vignettes on Frederic W.H. Myers” (Paranormal Review, 2014, No. 70, 3-13). As said in the first paragraph:

“Frederic W.H. Myers, a researcher of great importance for the history of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), and for the history of parapsychology in general, was one of the most interesting and complex figures of nineteenth-century psychical research. His work has been discussed in recent times by several authors [such as Emily Kelly and Trevor Hamilton] . . . In contrast to these works, in this paper I do not attempt to present a cohesive picture or study of Myers. Instead I present several somewhat disconnected notes about Myers’ life and work, some of which have been compiled from little known sources, that I hope will interest those readers of the Review who are fascinated with his work and with the period in which he worked.”

Frederic W.H. Myers

Frederic W.H. Myers

I included sections in the paper entitled: Impressions and Behaviors, Travels, Discussing Myers in America, Discussions of Myers in France, Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death in the United States and in France, and Elected SPR President.

Charles Richet

Charles Richet

In France Charles Richet wrote about Myers in his book The Natural History of a Savant (1927):

“What I admired most in Myers was his scrupulous scientific probity. Although he had an excellent memory, he would take exact notes of all the circumstances of any experiment. His courtesy, his charm, his learning, were set off by a delicate sense of humor, which made his conversation delightful. He was a man of the world, in his manners far removed from those savants who wrap themselves in their specialty like bears in their fur . . . .”

First International Psychology Congress, 1889

First International Psychology Congress, 1889

It is interesting to know about Myers’ activities in countries such as France and the United States. “Some of Myers’s travels to France were in connection to the international psychology congresses. The first one, held at Paris in 1889, included psychical research in its programme . . .  In this congress we find Myers participating in discussions about hallucinations and hypnotism with other attending the congress . . . In the 1900 congress, also held in France, Myers . . .  presented a paper about the mediumship of Mrs Rosalie Thompson . . .”

Proceedings of the 1900 International Psychology Congress, Paris

Proceedings of the 1900 International Psychology Congress, Paris

Myers' Paper About Mrs. Thompson in the Proceedings of the 1900 Psychology Congress

Myers’ Paper About Mrs. Thompson in the Proceedings of the 1900 Psychology Congress

I also presented in the article seldom discussed aspects of Myers’ visit to the United States and how his work was received there. “In the United States Myers participated in a psychic congress held in Chicago. A report published in The Dial read: ‘ ‘Psychical Science’ was the subject of a Congress some of whose sessions must have made the judicious grieve. It was given dignity by the presence and frequent participation of Mr. Frederic W.H. Myers, and, we need hardly add, proved the popular success of the week’ . . . During this congress, held during August of 1893, Myers presented papers about ‘The Subliminal Self,’ and ‘The Evidence for Man’s Survival after Death’ . . . While he was in the States Myers said that he had seances with Mrs. Piper . . .”

Boris Sidis

Boris Sidis

Many authors in the United States commented about Myers, among them Clark Bell, Hereward Carrington, William James, Joseph Jastrow, Rufus Osgood Mason, Morton Prince, and Boris Sidis. Some comments referred to Myers’ Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (HP, 1903), such as the following positive and negative views:

“Physician Rufus Osgood Mason (1903) wrote a two part review of HP in the New York Times. The systematic approach of Myers, Mason believed, made the work an ‘epoch-making book’ . . . The review ended arguing that pioneers in science—such as Galileo, Newton, Franklin, Morse, and Darwin—were rejected at first, and so we should expect the same in the case of Myers . . . A different perspective was presented by skeptical philosopher I. Woodbridge Riley (1905). Placing  HP  in the context of the ‘new thought’ literature, he stated that the future would tell if ‘this pioneer of the subliminal was not a mere squatter, whose holdings are bound to grow narrower with the advance of the legitimate psychologist and physiologist’ . . . He clearly believed there were normal explanations for many of the phenomena described by Myers  . . .”

Myers Human Personality 4

Pierre Janet

Pierre Janet

There were also mixed reactions from France. “Pierre Janet . . . regarded Human Personality as a work presenting ‘exaggerated generalizations and adventurous hypotheses,’ but also ‘remarkable descriptions and useful indications’ . . . Another French writer, philosopher Émile Boutroux (1908), believed Myers contributed precise observations to the study of the subliminal mind. But he was skeptical of Myers’ use of gradations and similarities between phenomena to make his points.”

Émile Boutroux

Émile Boutroux

I ended the article—by no means an exhaustive review of Myers—citing Richet, “who considered Myers the harbinger of a new science. Richet believed that Myers’s ‘name will not perish, his work is indestructible’ and ‘will be placed at the top of this future psychology which perhaps will eclipse all other human knowledge.’ ”

Frederic W.H. Myers

Frederic W.H. Myers

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone

Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone

Alvarado, C.S., & Zingrone, N.L. (2007-08). Interrelationships of parapsychological experiences, dream recall, and lucid dreams in a survey with predominantly Spanish participants. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 27, 63-69.

Previous questionnaire studies of parapsychological experiences have found significant interrelations between the experiences in question and dream experiences. In this study we present a replication of these relationships using a nationality of participants neglected in previous studies, a predominantly Spanish sample. A questionnaire was published in a Spanish New Age magazine. Four hundred and ninety-two questionnaires were received. Most of the parapsychological experiences correlated significantly and positively with each other and with dream recall and lucid dream frequency (Bonferroni-corrected). The results are consistent with the idea discussed in terms of boundary thinness, dissociation, and fantasy proneness that there is a disposition, or openness in some individuals to have or to believe they have had seemingly parapsychological experiences.

Gow, K.M., Hutchinson, L., & Chant, D. (2009). Correlations between fantasy proneness, dissociation, personality factors and paranormal beliefs in experiencers of paranormal and anomalous phenomena. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 37, 169–191.

This study examined various psychological correlates of belief in, and experience of, anomalous phenomena. Anomalous experiences are those that, although they may be experienced by a considerable number of individuals—such as experiences considered to be telepathic—are thought to diverge from ordinary experiences or from established accounts of reality. One hundred and seventy-three participants (114 females and 59 males) were classified as anomalous experiencers (n = 125), anomalous believers (n =39) and non-believers (n = 9), according to their responses on a Measure of Anomalous Experiences and Beliefs. Focusing on the Experiencer group, correlational analyses were conducted with fantasy proneness, dissociation, paranormal beliefs, and the personality correlates of “intuition” and “feeling.” Analyses revealed significant correlations between fantasy proneness and five of the seven subscales of paranormal belief and significant moderate (to low) correlations with both the “intuition” and “feeling” dimensions of the MBTI. Dissociation was also related to global paranormal belief and to the subscales of psi, superstition, and extraordinary life forms.

Hideyuki Kokubo

Hideyuki Kokubo

Kokubo, H. (2014). A questionnaire survey for the digital native generation on their anomalous experiences and trust for other persons.  Journal of International Society of Life Information Science, 32, 217-227.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, questionnaire surveys were done in Japan for university students and medical staff members on anomalous (paranormal) experiences. Since then a new generation has appeared, the so-called “Digital Native Generation” that was born during the development of many forms of information technology. Also they are often called the “Yutori” generation in Japan if they were born from 1987 to 1997 and were educated by “Yutori” curriculum. The present study gives the results of a questionnaire survey for Japanese university students (133 males, 152 females) of Digital Native on anomalous experiences and trust for other persons. It was found that the frequencies of anomalous experiences were similar to those of previous surveys, and that supported the hypothesis that anomalous experiences are experience-based, not culture-based. The tendency of trust was larger for the Digital Native generation than the previous generations. It was suggested that the belief for 6th sense correlated to other factors such as trust for other persons, rather than ESP experiences.

Parra, A. (2012). Relación entre las experiencias paranormales y esquizotipia positiva/negativa [Relationship between paranormal experiences and positive/negative schizotypy]. Acta Psiquiátrica y Psicológica de América Latina, 58, 246-255.

The present study investigated how subjective paranormal experience relates to positive and negative schizotypy. It was hypothesized that paranormal experiences would correlate with schizotypy proneness, schizotypy sub-factor Unusual experiences, and positive schizotypy than non-experients. Undergraduate students, and family members and friends, 57% females and 42.2% males (Mean age = 33 years old), filled two questionnaires. The Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences, which assesses schizotypy in four dimensions and the Paranormal Experiences Questionnaire-which collects information on spontaneous paranormal experiences, were analized. Participants with experiences were less cognitively disorganized and reported subjectively more pleasant paranormal experiences, were less impulsive. more social, and showed less eccentric forms of behaviour, often suggesting a lack of self-control. The majority of the paranormal experiences were related to positive schizotypy scores. It is noteworthy that, in an inverse direction, some paranormal experiences are also related to negative schizotypy. In conclusion, the present study implies an interaction between schizotypal personality factors that could predict the subjective quality of odd experiences. Consistent with previous research, results indicate a potentially adaptive, and indeed protective role for paranormal beliefs and magical thinking.

Dr. Alejandro Parra

Dr. Alejandro Parra

Parra, A., & Corbetta, J.M. (2014).  Changes resulting from paranormal/spiritual experiences and their effects on people’s wellbeing: An exploratory examination. Journal for the Study of Spirituality, 4, 73-82.

The aims of this study were to evaluate the effects of paranormal and mystical/spiritual experiences on people’s lives and to evaluate changes resulting from such experiences. Twenty-four participants attended workshops about paranormal/spiritual experiences. The Index of Changes Resulting From Experiences and a checklist of possible effects of paranormal or transcendent experiences were used. All of the respondents reported at least one paranormal experience, and 83% reported at least one transcendent experience. The high percentage of paranormal experiences reported may reflect the fact that respondents were recruited based on interest in parapsychology and the paranormal. Seventy per cent now have a purpose in life as a result of their paranormal or transcendent experience; 62% have had paranormal and/or transcendent experiences since childhood; 54% said they became significantly more spiritual or religious as a result of their experiences; and 54% were helped to understand and accept death. The fact that anomalous experiences apparently induce positive reactions in some people provides a strong impetus for further research. This line of research also has significant implications for understanding better not only those people who volunteer to participate in parapsychological experiments but also the results of those experiments.

Rattet, S.L., & Bursik, K. (2001). Investigating the personality correlates of paranormal belief and precognitive experience. Personality and Individual Differences, 31, 433-444.

Do individuals who endorse paranormal beliefs differ from those reporting actual precognitive experiences? This study examined the personality correlates of these variables in a sample of college students, 61% of whom described some type of precognitive experience. Extraversion and intuition were associated with precognitive experience, but not with paranormal belief; dissociative tendencies were related to paranormal belief, but not precognitive experience. The importance of conceptualizing and assessing paranormal belief and precognitive experience as separate constructs is discussed.

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

This is one of the latest of a series of videos prepared by NUPES, the Nucleo de Pesquisa em Espiritualidade e Saude  (Group of Research in Spirituality and Health), which is part of the Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (Federal University of Juiz de Fora) in Brazil.

Alexandre Sech Junior

Alexandre Sech Junior

It is a short presentation by Alexandre Sech Junior, entitled “History and Philosophy of Scientific Research on Spirituality.” Alexandre, who I met in Brazil and with whom I have occasional correspondence, has an M.A. In Philosophy and is pursuing a doctoral degree at the Health Sciences Department of the Federal University of Juiz de For a, Brazil (UFJF). In addition, he is a researcher at NUPES. I discussed an article he published about William James in a previous blog.

The video focuses on the following questions: “Why study historical and philosophical aspects of spirituality? To what fields of knowledge does this type of research belong? How to investigate the History and Philosophy of Scientific Research on Spirituality? What can you tell us about spiritual experiences in history?”

Nancy Zingrone logged this into two new Playlists on our YouTube Channel, Parapsychology Online, one that will provide links to the English-language NUPES videos, and another one that will provide links to resources on history and philosophy of science videos that are relevant to the scientific study of psychic phenomena. “Alexander’s video is extremely good in this regard because it provides a clear definition not only of the interdisciplinary research being done at his university, but also because it provides definitions and a glimpse into the academic study of spirituality.”

For our YouTube channel, Parapsychology Online, click here.

For the NUPES Channel on YouTube, click here.

 

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Here is the first of a series of posts about fairly recent articles about out-of-body experiences. I will be including articles from different perspectives, among them neurological, parapsychological, and psychological. This will include reviews, conceptual, and research papers.

* * * *

Alvarado, C.S. (2009). The spirit in out-of-body experiences: Historical and conceptual notes. In B. Batey (Ed.), Spirituality, Science and the Paranormal (pp. 3-19). Bloomfield, CT: Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies.

This paper focuses on selected aspects of the history of out-of-body experiences (OBEs), namely case work and discussions published between 1860 and 1956 in which its authors defended concepts such as the spirit and subtle bodies capable of going out of the physical body. The discussion centers on the writings of Scottish social reformer Robert Dale Owen’s (1801-1877), English reverend and medium’s William Stainton Moses (1839-1892), English journalist William H. Harrison, English classical scholar and psychical researcher Frederic W.H. Myers (1843-1901), French engineer Gabriel Delanne (1857-1926), Italian psychical researcher Ernesto Bozzano (1862-1943), and American sociologist Hornell Hart (1888-1967). All the discussions included veridical phenomena such as obtaining information about events taking place at a distance from the physical body, and being seen as an apparition in the location where the OBErs felt they were visiting while having the OBE. Some of these writings are evidentially problematic and suffer from lack of precise definition of the nature of the principle believed to be behind the phenomena. But regardless of conceptual problems the above mentioned OBE-related phenomena need to be considered by those who adhere to purely hallucinatory explanations of the phenomenon.

Dr. Jason Braithwaite

Dr. Jason Braithwaite

Braithwaite, J.J., Broglia, E., Bagshaw, A.P. and Wilkins, A.J. (2012). Evidence for elevated cortical hyperexcitability and its association with out-of-body experiences in the non-clinical population: New findings from a pattern-glare task. Cortex, 30, 1-13.

Individuals with no history of neurological or psychiatric illness can report hallucinatory Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs) and display elevated scores on measures of temporal-lobe dysfunction (Braithwaite et al., 2011). However, all previous investigations of such biases in non-clinical populations are based on indirect questionnaire measures. Here we present the first empirical investigation that a non-clinical OBE group is subject to pattern-glare, possibly as a result of cortical hyperexcitability (Wilkins et al., 1984). Fifty-nine students at the University of Birmingham viewed a series of square-wave gratings with spatial frequencies of approximately .7, 3 and 11 cycles-per-degree, both black/white and of contrasting colours. The illusions and discomfort reported when viewing gratings with mid-range spatial frequency have been hypothesized to reflect cortical hyperexcitability (Wilkins, 1995; Huang et al., 2003). Participants also completed the Cardiff Anomalous Perception Scale (CAPS: Bell et al., 2006) which included experiential measures of disruptions in ‘Temporal-lobe Experience’. Participants who reported OBEs also reported significantly more visual illusions/distortions and significantly greater discomfort as a result of viewing the mid-frequency gratings. There were no such differences with respect to gratings with relatively lower or higher spatial frequency. The OBE group also produced significantly elevated scores on the CAPS measures of Temporal-lobe Experience, relative to controls. Collectively, the results are consistent with there being a neural ‘vulnerability’ in the cortices of individuals pre-disposed to some hallucinations, even in the non-clinical population.

Dr. Etzel Cardeña

Dr. Etzel Cardeña

Cardeña, E. and Alvarado, C.S. (2014) Anomalous self and identity experiences. In Cardeña, E. Lynn, S.J. and & Krippner, S. (Eds.), Varieties of Anomalous Experiences (2nd ed., pp. 175-212. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

This review paper has a section about OBEs covering survey and experimental studies, as well as clinical and theoretical issues. Some parts of the paper are: Prevalence, psychophysiological correlates, individual differences, medical and neurological variables, psychopathology, and parapsychological research.

Dr. J.A. Cheyne

Dr. J.A. Cheyne

Cheyne, J.A., & Girard, T.A.  (2009). The body unbound: Vestibular–motor hallucinations and out-of-body experiences. Cortex, 45, 201-215.

Among the varied hallucinations associated with sleep paralysis (SP), out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and vestibular-motor (V-M) sensations represent a distinct factor. Recent studies of direct stimulation of vestibular cortex report a virtually identical set of bodily-self hallucinations. Both programs of research agree on numerous details of OBEs and V-M experiences and suggest similar hypotheses concerning their association. In the present study, self-report data from two on-line surveys of SP-related experiences were employed to assess hypotheses concerning the causal structure of relations among V-M experiences and OBEs during SP episodes. The results complement neurophysiological evidence and are consistent with the hypothesis that OBEs represent a breakdown in the normal binding of bodily-self sensations and suggest that out-of-body feelings (OBFs) are consequences of anomalous V-M experiences and precursors to a particular form of autoscopic experience, out-of-body autoscopy (OBA). An additional finding was that vestibular and motor experiences make relatively independent contributions to OBE variance. Although OBEs are superficially consistent with universal dualistic and supernatural intuitions about the nature of the soul and its relation to the body, recent research increasingly offers plausible alternative naturalistic explanations of the relevant phenomenology.

Dr. Bruce Greyson

Dr. Bruce Greyson

Greyson, B., Fountain, N.B., Derr, L.L. & Broshek, D.K. (2014) Out-of-body experiences associated with seizures. Frontiers of Human Neuroscience 8:65. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00065

Alterations of consciousness are critical factors in the diagnosis of epileptic seizures. With these alterations in consciousness, some persons report sensations of separating from the physical body, experiences that may in rare cases resemble spontaneous out-of-body experiences. This study was designed to identify and characterize these out-of-body-like subjective experiences associated with seizure activity. Fifty-five percent of the patients in this study recalled some subjective experience in association with their seizures. Among our sample of 100 patients, 7 reported out-of-body experiences associated with their seizures. We found no differentiating traits that were associated with patients’ reports of out-of-body experiences, in terms of either demographics; medical history, including age of onset and duration of seizure disorder, and seizure frequency; seizure characteristics, including localization, lateralization, etiology, and type of seizure, and epilepsy syndrome; or ability to recall any subjective experiences associated with their seizures. Reporting out-of-body experiences in association with seizures did not affect epilepsy-related quality of life. It should be noted that even in those patients who report out-of-body experiences, such sensations are extremely rare events that do not occur routinely with their seizures. Most patients who reported out-of-body experiences described one or two experiences that occurred an indeterminate number of years ago, which precludes the possibility of associating the experience with the particular characteristics of that one seizure or with medications taken or other conditions at the time.

Neppe, V. (2011). Models of the out-of-body experience: Etiological Phenomenological Approach. NeuroQuantology, 9, 72-83.

This paper compares several models of out‐of‐body experience (OBE) leading a new proposed multi‐etiological model. Broadly the unitary hypotheses propose several single broad causes and explanations, though each of these recognizes that any specific explanation may not be all encompassing. These are best divided into four groups: Psychological, Brain, Psychopathology, and Experiential. The psychological models of Blackmore (reality distortion), Palmer (body concept) and Irwin (absorption) are followed by the brain empirical descriptions of Penfield, Blanke, and the cerebral explanations of Persinger (vectorial hemsiphericity), Wettach (midbrain near‐death experiences), and Nelson (REM‐intrusion in near death experiences [NDEs]). Additionally, there is the psychopathological psychiatric perspective, plus the spontaneous and induced OBEs that occur in subjective paranormal experients, which appear phenomenologically quite different. OBE research has generally been based on single questions without detailed qualitative differentiation of the OBE. This creates the erroneous situation of potentially misinterpreting diverse experiences under a single etiological umbrella. Optimally, OBE evaluations require detailed screening for OBEs so that “like” is classified with “like” not “unlike.” The author motivates for a detailed phenomenological analysis model which could accommodate the multiplicity of causes and the different subpopulations. This shifts the model from the unitary etiological hypotheses to Neppe’s Multi‐etiological Phenomenological Approach. Detailed phenomenological analyses may demonstrate separate distinct kinds of out of‐body experience and therefore ensure that OBEs are appropriately phenomenologically classified in the context of the population samples being examined. This approach facilitates analyzing form, content, circumstance, and predisposed populations using a predominantly biopsychofamiliosociocultural approach and differentiating five possible legitimate hypothetical groups: 1. subjective paranormal experience (SPE) out‐of‐body experiences, 2. OBEs in SPE‐ non‐experients who may have psychological experiences, 3. seizure and brain linked OBEs, 4. psychopathology interpreted as OBEs, 5. the non‐OBE population.

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Russell Targ is a physicist who did early work with lasers. Russ was a cofounder of the famous Stanford Research Institute (SRI) program, where ESP was studied in the 1970s and 1980s. In addition, he is a pioneer in the scientific study of remote viewing, a topic he has discussed repeatedly. Interestingly, Russ wrote about remote viewing in an autobiographical essay : “With practice, most people become increasingly able to separate out the psychic signal from the mental noise of memory, analysis, naming, judging, and imagination. Target and target details as small as one millimeter can be sensed. Moreover, again and again we have seen that accuracy and resolution of remote viewing targets are not sensitive to variations in distance.”

Russell Targ and Onyx

Russell Targ and Onyx

 

Targ Reality of ESPHe has published several books, among them The Reality of ESP: A Physicist’s Proof of Psychic Abilities, Limitless Mind: A Guide to Remote Viewing and Transformation of Consciousness  and Do You See What I See? Memoirs of a Blind Biker: Lasers and Love, ESP and the CIA, and the Meaning of Life. He is co-author of other works such as Mind Reach: Scientists Look at Psychic Abilities , The Mind Race: Understanding and Using Psychic Abilities, Miracles of Mind: Remote Viewing and Spiritual Healing.

 Targ Katra Mirackes of the Mind

For more information see the following videos (here and here), and an autobiographical essay.

Interview

How did you get interested in parapsychology?

Like many parapsychologists, I had a serious interest in magic and sleight-of-hand tricks since the age of twelve. And I had the opportunity to frequently observe close-up magic at Hubert’s Flea Circus on 42nd Street in New York, and purchase conjuring tricks from the professional magic shops nearby. At age fourteen, Robert Rosenthal came into my high school biology class and administered an hour-long introduction to Zener card ESP testing. Rosenthal was a year ahead of me at Newtown High school, and went on to become a distinguished Harvard professor in behavioral psychology. One of the benefits of living in New York City was that in addition to Hubert’s, I could visit the ASPR and become introduced to the professional parapsychology journals, which I received ever since. Because of my very poor vision, I have the life-long experience of trying to make sense of the low resolution images that I experience by way of vision. As a result of this experience, I have paid more than the usual attention to the diaphanous images which come my way through clairvoyance perception. I started having high-quality clairvoyant images in my twenties. These encouraged my interest in psi research. My degree is in physics. But I took courses and read extensively in perceptual psychology.

While in college, I was an avid science fiction reader. I remember being thrilled by a number of excellent and engaging novels which sympathetically portrayed  telepathic humans. The best of these were Odd John, by Olaf Stapledon; Slan, by A.E. van Voght; and More Than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon.

Russell Targ at the Whitney Museum of Art

Russell Targ at the Whitney Museum of Art

What are your main interests in the field and how have you contributed to its development?

My first papers in psi research were published in 1972. One described an ESP teaching machine, which led to a successful NASA program at SRI. The other was a proposed model for precognition, based on advanced electro-magnetic potential, which is probably not correct. The “ESP Trainer” still lives a free Apple app for the iPhone. The most important thing I learned from my decade with the remote viewing program at SRI was that the accuracy and reliability of precognition is just as great as contemporaneous clairvoyance. The work at the PEAR lab at Princeton supports this important finding. My main interest in psi is to reconcile precognition with modern physics and encourage people to incorporate psychic abilities into their everyday life. I consider precognition to be the senior ability of all perceptual psi.

Why do you think that parapsychology is important?

Parapsychology is important because it gives us a window on the fact that we significantly misapprehend the nature of the physical and psychological space in which we live. That is, there is no space-time separation in consciousness. Everyone knows that we can have a dream which may strongly reflect a surprising event that occurs the next day. That is, tomorrow’s event can retro-causally trigger tonight’s dream. For a physicist, if you don’t understand causality, you don’t understand anything.

In your view, what are the main problems in parapsychology today as a scientific field?

The main problem with the field today is that it is totally disconnected from modern physics. The evidence for psi is much greater than the evidence for String Theory, which is hanging by a thread. But the latter, though perhaps bogus, is presently strongly compatible with physics. When paraphysics becomes physics, we will have taken a great leap forward. For example, hyper-geometry is still considered geometry.

Can you mention some of your current projects?

I have recently published a book titled, The Reality of ESP: A Physicists Proof of Psychic Abilities. And I am cooperating with the production of a documentary film describing the first decade of the CIA-supported, SRI remote viewing program in the 1970s and 1980s. The film will include interviews with the two-dozen still living people associated with the program. Until this past year, I have been teaching remote viewing in workshops worldwide.

Selected Publications

Books

The Reality of ESP: A Physicist’s Proof of Psychic Abilities: (2012), Quest Books.

Do You See What I See: Memoirs of a Blind Biker (2008) Hampton Roads.

Targ Do you See What I See

The End of Suffering: Fearless Living in Troubled Times (2006, with J.J. Hurtak) Hampton Roads.

Limitless Mind: A Guide to Remote Viewing and Transformation of Consciousness (2004) New World Library.

Targ Limitless Mind

The Heart of the Mind: How to Experience God Without Belief (1999, with Jane Katra) New World Library.

Miracles of Mind: Exploring Nonlocal Consciousness and Spiritual Healing 1998, with Jane Katra) New World Library.

The Mind Race: Understanding and Using Psychic Abilities (1984, with Keith Harary) Villard.

Mind at Large: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Symposium on the Nature of Extrasensory Perception (1979, 2002 with Charles Tart and Harold Puthoff) Hampton Roads. 

Mind Reach: Scientists Look at Psychic Ability (1977, 2005 with Harold Puthoff) Delacorte.

Targ Puthoff Mind Reach

Articles

Russell Targ, & Harold Puthoff, “Information transfer under conditions of sensory shielding.” Nature, 1975, 251, 602-607.

Harold E. Puthoff, & Russell Targ, “A Perceptual Channel for Information Transfer over kilometer distances: Historical perspective and recent research.” Proceedings. IEEE, 1976, 64, 329-354.

Russell Targ and Elisabeth Targ, “A Study of the Accuracy of Paranormal Perception as a Function of Target Probability,” Journal of Parapsychology, 1986, 50, 17-28.

Russell Targ and Charles Tart, “Pure Clairvoyance and the Necessity of Feedback,” Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1985, 79, 485-492.

Elisabeth Targ, Russell Targ and Oliver Lichtarge, “Realtime Clairvoyance: A  Study  of Remote Viewing Without Feedback,” Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1985, 79, 493-500.

Keith Harary and Russell Targ, “A New Approach to Forecasting Commodity Futures,”  Psi Research, December, 1985, 4(3-4), 79-88.

Russell Targ, Elisabeth Targ, and Keith Harary, “Moscow – San Francisco Remote Viewing Experiment,” Psi Research, 1984, 3, No. 3/4, 74-82.

Russell Targ and Arthur Hastings, “The Psychological Impact of  Psychic Abilities,” Psycho­logical Perspectives, 1987, 18, No. 1 (Spring).

Russell  Targ,  William, Braud, Marilyn Schlitz, Rex Stanford and Charles Honorton, “In­creasing Psychic Reliability,” A Panel Discussion Presented at the 33rd Annual  Conference of the Parapsychological Association. Journal of Parapsychology, 1991, 55, 59-81.

Russell Targ, “What I see when I close my eyes,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1994, 8, 111-118.

Russell Targ, Jane Katra, Dean Brown, and Wenden Weigand, “Viewing the future: A pilot study with an error detecting protocol,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1995, 9, 367-380.

Russell Targ, “Remote viewing at Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s:  A  memoir,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1996, 10, 77-88.

Russell Targ, “Remote viewing replication: Evaluated with concept analysis, ” Journal of Parapsychology, 1994, 58, 271-284.

Targ, R., Katra, J., Brown, D., and Wiegand, W. “Viewing the future: A Pilot study with an error-detecting protocol.” Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1995, 67-80.

 

 

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Kathleen Goligher

Kathleen Goligher

“Kathleen Goligher of Belfast . . . and the family circle in which she sat, were exhaustively studied by Dr. W. J. Crawford, a lecturer in mechanical engineering in the local university, who described his conclusions in a series of books: The Reality of Psychic Phenomena appeared in 1916, Experiments in Psychical Science in 1919, while the third, The Psychic Structures at the Goligher Circle, delayed by the author’s sudden death, appeared in Feb. 1921. They formed a graduated series, growing more and more sensational in their results, and in the end actually represented as visible facts what had originally been suggested as hypothetical inferences.”

Crawford Reality Psychic Phenomena

Crawford Experiments

Crawford Psychic Structures Cover

F.C.S. Schiller

F.C.S. Schiller

This comment, authored by philosopher Ferdinand C.S. Schiller (“Psychical Research (or Spiritualism).” Encyclopaedia Britannica [12th edition, Vol. 32, pp. 198–204]. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica Company, 1922) are the opening words of a short note I published recently: “On W.J. Crawford’s Studies of Physical Mediumship” (Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2014, 28, 351-357; for a reprint write to the author: carlos@theazire.org).

 

The phenomena studied by William J. Crawford included table levitations and ectoplasm. My comment was not about the evidentiality of the phenomena, but instead about issues surrounding it. As stated in the abstract:

“These comments are about the context and reception of W. J. Crawford’s physical mediumship work. Interestingly, Crawford did not discuss previously relevant work on the subject, nor the conceptual tradition about mediumistic forces discussed by many authors before he published his studies. The latter included ideas to explain phenomena such as telekinesis and materialization. Many writers were skeptical of Crawford’s results, while others argued that some of his findings may have been due to what we now call experimenter effects.”

Crawford's Ideas About Table Levitation

Crawford’s Ideas About Table Levitation

Ectoplasm Photographed by Crawford

Ectoplasm Photographed by Crawford

D.D. Home

D.D. Home

One of the things I comment about is that Crawford “did not place his work in the context of previous work, among it observations of the phenomena of mediums such as D. D. Home . . . and Eusapia Palladino . . . , among many others. Crawford’s books are limited to his observations and to the results of his tests, and no systematic comparisons were offered in terms of previous findings on the topic.”

Another interesting omission is that Crawford, who believed in some sort of semi-physical force projecting from the medium and the circle to cause the phenomena, did not discuss in his writings previous similar ideas. In fact, by the time Crawford was writing, the “psychic force” model of physical mediumship had been discussed frequently by spiritualists and psychical researchers.

Photo of "Psychic Structure"

Photo of “Psychic Structure”

The study of Crawford also brings out other aspects. In additions to discussions of fraud, his work served as a catalyst for the “belief in what today we refer to as experimenter effects.” That is, there were some speculations that the way the phenomena manifested may have represented the influence of  Crawford’s ideas and interests, and not the actual nature of the phenomena. “In truth, this was basically a speculation with no evidence in its support. But it provides a fascinating connection with similar ideas from the previous literature about hysteria and hypnosis, not to mention some studies of mental mediums . . . Ideas such as these show that research programs such as Crawford’s fulfilled many functions in the past discourse on psychical research.”

 

Psychic Spying

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Dr. Edwin C. May

Dr. Edwin C. May

 

Physicist Edwin C. May has just published an article entitled “Star Gate: The U. S. Government’s Psychic Spying Program” (Journal of Parapsychology, 2014, 78, 5-18). Here is the abstract:

“From 1972 to 1995 various agencies of the U.S. government funded applications of and research into psi to the tune of over 20 million U.S. dollars. Although this sounds like a substantial amount of money to most of us, with regard to military and/or intelligence funding it is almost round-off error! This activity was not inspired by some academic curiosity that one might find at a university; rather, it was driven by necessity during the Cold War. Puthoff and Targ deserve unbounded respect for shepherding the project, especially in its early days. My view of STAR GATE extends from late 1975 through 1995, and I am the “keeper of the keys” of all the research and some of the spying. This means I have all the project records, including such things as raw data from a large number of experiments, final reports to a host of clients, administrative records as to who funded the project and for how much money, who was involved, and how and why the government’s in-house activity was established at Ft. Meade. This paper is a personal narrative of my first-hand account of much of that work.”

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

I believe I first met Caroline Watt in one of the Parapsychological Association’s conventions. But I got to know her better when I was working towards a PhD in psychology at the University of Edinburgh, where she is faculty.

Dr. Caroline Watt

Dr. Caroline Watt

Caroline has a PhD in Psychology and is currently on the faculty of the Department of Psychology of the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Senior Lecturer, the Perrot-Warrick Senior Researcher, and a member of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit . She supervises postgraduate students and teaches various courses, among them an online parapsychology course.

Irwin Introduction to ParapsychologyCaroline is the co-author, with Harvey J. Irwin  of the well-known textbook An Introduction to Parapsychology (5th edition, 2007). In addition she was the President of the Parapsychological Association (2004-2005) and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Bial Foundation.

 

Interview

How did you get interested in parapsychology?

Curiosity first and foremost. As a teenager, Lyall Watson’s book Supernature first piqued my interest, and I devoured loads of books in that genre. My subsequent involvement as an academic grew from being in the right place at the right time and grasping an opportunity. I studied for a psychology degree at St Andrews University in Scotland, and sat my final exams in 1984. At that time there was considerable press interest in the setting up of the Koestler Chair at Edinburgh University. I thought parapsychology was a fascinating area of enquiry and was delighted by the idea that one could study it in a university setting. After I graduated I wrote to the newly appointed Koestler Professor, Robert Morris  who had not yet moved from the USA to Edinburgh), to say I’d love to help out if he could use an extra pair of hands. To cut a long story short, I eventually met Bob, who said he was planning to advertise for a research assistant and invited me to apply. I got the job and started in June 1986, about six months after Bob’s arrival in Edinburgh.

What are your main interests in the field and how have you contributed to its development?

I’d split this into three areas: Research, scientific standing of the field, and public communication. I’ve always been attracted to research topics that bridge psychology and parapsychology. For instance, my PhD thesis concerned perceptual defensiveness/vigilance and extrasensory perception, and I have also worked on experimenter effects in parapsychology and the psychology of paranormal belief. I’d like to think that my research helps to bring parapsychology to a more general scientific audience.

Like Bob Morris, I also think that it is important to embed parapsychology within a mainstream academic setting, to open minds and demonstrate to the establishment that this is a responsible and scientific field of endeavor with high methodological standards. The Koestler Parapsychology Unit  (KPU) is a research group within a university psychology department. So I teach parapsychology to undergraduate psychology students, through my final year option course and student research projects (some of which achieve journal publication). I also supervise PhD students. As part of my efforts to enhance the scientific standing of parapsychology, I run a parapsychology trial registry on the KPU website together with Jim Kennedy. Psychologists in the blogosphere have started to notice this and have described the KPU registry as a ‘victory for good science’. Finally, my work with the Bial Foundation, for instance helping to organize the biannual symposia, strives to provide a broader scientific platform for parapsychologists.

Thirdly, I am passionate about providing the general public with responsible information about the field. To achieve this, I run the KPU website, maintain a Twitter stream @KPUNews, and lead an open access online parapsychology course.

Why do you think that parapsychology is important?

The prevalence of paranormal beliefs and experiences in the general population means the field cannot be lightly dismissed. The psi hypothesis of course has potentially deep scientific implications. While there continues to be some debate in the wider scientific community over whether replicable evidence for psi has been demonstrated, history shows that the challenge of examining claimed paranormal abilities can itself bring methodological and conceptual advances that have potential applications beyond parapsychology.

In your view, what are the main problems in parapsychology today as a scientific field?

Perhaps because there are so few parapsychologists, research activity is rather piecemeal, which hampers progress. This leads to a vicious circle, since fewer bright new researchers are attracted into the field. Secondly, I think parapsychologists (including myself) could do a better job of making their research relevant to the mainstream.

Can you mention some of your current projects?

I won the Perrott-Warrick Senior Researcher fellowship back in 2010 and this has helped to support my recent research studying precognitive dream experiences from both a psychological and parapsychological perspective. I’ve just had a paper on the latter published in the Journal of Parapsychology. Regarding public communication, I’m currently writing a popular book about parapsychology. Lastly I’m excited to be considering how to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the KPU, which falls towards the end of next year.

Selected Parapsychology Publications

Book

H. J. Irwin & C. Watt (2007). An Introduction to Parapsychology (5th Edition). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Anthology

R. Wiseman & C. Watt (Eds). (2005). Parapsychology. Ashford: Ashgate.

Peer reviewed journal articles

Watt, C. (2014). Precognitive dreaming: Investigating anomalous cognition and psychological factors. Journal of Parapsychology, 78, 115-125.

Valášek, M., Watt, C., Hutton, J., Neill, R., Nuttall, R. & Renwick, G. (2014). Testing the implicit processing hypothesis of precognitive dream experience. Consciousness and Cognition, 28, 113-125.

Watt, C., Ashley, N., Gillett, J., Halewood, M. & Hanson, R. (2014). Psychological factors in precognitive dream experiences: The role of paranormal belief, selective recall and propensity to find correspondences. International Journal of Dream Research, 7, 1-8.

Watt, C. & Tierney, I. (2013). A preliminary test of the Model of Pragmatic Information using cases of spontaneous anomalous experience. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 20, 205-220.

Easter, A., & Watt, C. (2011). It’s good to know: How treatment knowledge and belief affect the outcome of distance healing intentionality for arthritis sufferers. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 71, 86-89.

Mobbs, D. & Watt, C. (2011). There is nothing paranormal about near-death experiences: how neuroscience can explain seeing bright lights, meeting the dead, or being convinced you are one of them. Trends in Cognitive Science, 15, 447-506.

Watt, C., & Wiseman, R. (2010) ‘Twitter’ as a new research tool: Proof of principle with a mass participation test of remote viewing. European Journal of Parapsychology, 25, 89-100.

Rabeyron, T. & Watt, C. (2010). Paranormal experiences, mental health and mental boundaries, and psi. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 487-492.

Watt, C. A. (2006). Research assistants or budding scientists? A review of 96 undergraduate student projects at the Koestler Parapsychology Unit. Journal of Parapsychology, 70, 335-356.

Schlitz, M., Wiseman, R., Watt, C., & Radin, D. (2006). Of two minds: Skeptic-proponent collaboration within parapsychology. British Journal of Psychology, 97, 313-322.

Watt, C., & Brady, C. (2002). Experimenter effects and the remote facilitation of attention focusing: Two studies and the discovery of an artifact. Journal of Parapsychology, 66, 49-71.

Watt, C., & Wiseman, R. (2002). Experimenter differences in cognitive correlates of paranormal belief, and in psi. Journal of Parapsychology, 66, 371-385.

Watt, C. & Nagtegaal, M. (2000). Luck in action? Belief in good luck, psi-mediated instrumental response, and games of chance. Journal of Parapsychology, 64, 19-38.

Watt, C.A. (1996). What makes a good psi target? Three studies of forced-choice ESP varying target emotionality and complexity. Journal of Parapsychology, 60, 25-41.

Watt, C.A. (1996). Knowing the unknown: Participants’ insight in three forced-choice ESP studies. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 90, 97-114.

Watt, C., Ravenscroft, J. & McDermott, Z. (1999). Exploring the limits of direct mental influence: Two studies comparing “blocking” and “co-operating” strategies. Journal for Scientific Exploration, 13, 515-535.

Watt, C. & Ravenscroft, J. (1999). Defensiveness, neuroticism and extrasensory perception. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 93, 341-354.

Watt, C.A. & Morris, R.L. (1995). The relationships among performance on a prototype indicator of perceptual defence/vigilance, personality, and extrasensory perception. Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 635-648.

Watt, C.A. (1992) Defensiveness and Psi: Problems and Prospects. In L.A. Henkel & G.R. Schmeidler (Eds) Research in Parapsychology 1990, pp. 102-106. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.

Watt, C.A. (1990-1991). Psychology and Coincidences. European Journal of Parapsychology, 8, 66-84.

Watt, C.A. (1990). The value of spontaneous cases. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 56, 273-286.

Book chapters

Watt, C. & Tierney, I. (2014). Psi-Related Experiences. In E. Cardeña, S. Krippner, & S. Lynn,  (eds.) Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence. 2nd ed. Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 241-272.

Watt, C. & Irwin, H.J. (2010). Processes underlying the phenomena of mysterious minds: Laboratory evidence for ESP. In S. Krippner & H. Friedman (Eds) Mysterious Minds: The Neurobiology of Psychics, Mediums and other Extraordinary People. Greenwood/Praeger.

Watt, C. (2005). Psychological factors. In J. Henry (Ed.) Parapsychology: Research into Exceptional Experiences. Hove, East Sussex: Routledge.

Watt, C. (2001). Paranormal cognition. In R. Roberts & D. Groome (Eds) Parapsychology: The Science of Unusual Experience. London: Arnold (pp. 130-140).

Watt, C. (1999). The future of psychology: Parapsychology’s Role. In Brander, T. et al. (Eds) The Future of Psychology. Amsterdam: Stichting VSPA Ledenservice. (pp.17-20).

Watt, C.A. (1996). Subliminal and extrasensory perception. In J. Henry (Ed.) Introduction to Psychical Research. London: Society for Psychical Research, pp. 130-135.

Watt, C.A. (1994). Making the most of spontaneous cases. In S. Krippner (Ed.) Advances in Parapsychological Research, Volume 7, pp. 77-103. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

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