Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center
As I argued in a previous blog the human dimension of parapsychology is of basic importance to the field. By the human dimension I mean the individuals who conduct research and keep the field alive and moving. This is clear in the second volume of Rosemarie Pilkington’s recently published compilation of biographical essays, Men and Women of Parapsychology . Consequently I am starting a series of blog devoted to introducing workers in parapsychology to the general public through short interviews.
I am happy to open this series of blogs with psychologist Patrizio Tressoldi. Patrizio is a researcher at the Department of General Psychology of the University of Padova. In addition to his interest in parapsychology, he has done work in clinical psychology, with emphasis on the psychological assessment and evaluation of interventions for learning disabilities. In this area he is one of the developers of BVN Batteria di Valutazione Neuropsicologica 12-18 (Neuropsychological Battery for Adolescents 12-18 Years Old) (2009) and DDE2 -Batteria per la Valutazione della Dislessia e della Disortografia Evolutiva -2 (Battery for the Evaluation of Developmental Dyslexia and Dysorthographia) (2007).
In parapsychology Patrizio has authored several important articles. These includes “Meta-Analysis of Free Response Studies, 1992-2008: Assessing the Noise Reduction Model in Parapsychology” (with Lance Storm and Lorenzo Di Risio; Psychological Bulletin, 2010, 136, 471-485. He is also the author, with Massimo Biondi, of Parapsicologia: Storia, Ricerca, Evidenze (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2007), which I have read and consider to be one of the best introductions to parapsychology available today. In addition, Patrizio was one of the Program Chairs of the last convention of the Parapsychological Association, which met this August in Viterbo, Italy.
The following are replies I received from Patrizio from a few questions I emailed to him.
How did you get interested in parapsychology?
I think this was a quasi-natural consequence of my curiosities and interest in searching answers to the fundamental existential questions: “Who we are?”; “From where do we came from?”, etc. However I remember well my first “inspiring” book. It was Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne Margins of Reality. I bought it in the original English version and cannot remember how I came across it in the pre-internet era. Another “influential” book, translated into Italian, was Raymond Moody’s La Vita oltre la Vita (Life after Life). I cultivated this interest only through reading books and scientific papers up to 2000 when I decided to start my empirical contribution to this field. At that time I already had completed my PhD in psychology and I had a permanent full time position as researcher at the Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale (Department of General Psychology) of Padova University since 1993.
What are your main interests in the field and how have you contributed to its development?
At present I am mainly interested in “summing up” the available theoretical and empirical evidence of different lines of research (i.e. ESP in different mental state conditions; anticipatory neuro- and psychophysiological activity; retrocausal effects, etc., by using meta-analyses and disseminate them by internet.
A second related interest is to devise experiments demonstrating the potential of practical applications of what is emerging from the theoretical and empirical evidence. For example, we are currently devising portable apparatuses to “exploit” anticipatory heart rate activity to predict random events, but the more ambitious project is the “mental telecommunication” one. With this project we aim at demonstrating that it is possible to communicate between humans and send messages to computers only mentally from whichever distance.
Why do you think that parapsychology is important?
I think parapsychology is suggesting to mainstream psychology that if people approach human mind investigations without taboos and prejudices, there is a “new mental world” to discover that could change the conception of “Who we are” discovering incredible potentialities of our mind.
In your view, what are the main problems in parapsychology today as a scientific field?
That it is defying the dominant cultural scientific paradigm about the nature and characteristics of human mind, who posits that mind is bounded by its neurological correlates that function following the biological and physical law based on the classical mechanics. How much experimental evidence is necessary to change a cultural belief?