Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation
Evidence for Psi: Thirteen Empirical Research Reports (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014, 332 pp., soft cover, $49.95), edited by Damien Broderick and Ben Goertzel, consists of essays written by various authors that explore different areas of experimental parapsychology. The editors state in the introduction:
“In the Introduction, we will mention several current and promising, albeit still speculative, theoretical approaches to psi. On the whole, though, we will focus on the empirical, scientific data supporting the reality of psi phenomena. In order to understand the connection between psi and theoretical physics, as well as the connection between psi and other disciplines such as neuroscience and cognitive psychology, it is first necessary to understand as clearly as possible what psi actually is . . . Our goal in this book is to summarize and review some of the work . . . which has been probing psi seriously from the perspective of standard experimental science. The researchers providing essays for the book review a subset of the scientific data obtained via laboratory work on psi phenomena, with a focus on relatively recent experiments. The book is intended for rational, open- minded observers without expertise in the study of psi phenomena. We assume only that the reader has a basic understanding of the scientific method and sufficient technical education to understand elementary statistics (odds and percentages and averages and standard deviations, etc.). To readers with such a background, the essays presented provide a fair and, we hope, clearly presented review of some of the highlights of the large extant experimental literature regarding psi phenomena.”
Here is the table of contents:
The Significance of Statistics in Mind-Matter Research (Jessica Utts)
Physiological Activity That Seems to Anticipate Future Events (Julia A. Mossbridge)
Anomalous Anticipatory Skin Conductance Response to Acoustic Stimuli: Experimental Results and Speculation About a Mechanism (Edwin C. May, Tamas Paulinyi and Zoltan Vassy)
Revisiting the Ganzfeld ESP Debate: A Basic Review and Assessment (Bryan J. Williams
Telepathy in Connection with Telephone Calls, Text Messages and E-Mails (Rupert Sheldrake)
Empirical Examinations of the Reported Abilities of a Psychic Claimant: A Review of Experiments and Explorations with Sean Harribance (Bryan J. Williams)
Assessing Psi Ability Via the Ball Selection Test: A Challenge for Psychometrics (Suitbert Ertel)
Through Time and Space: The Evidence for Remote Viewing (Stephan A. Schwartz)
The PEAR Laboratory: Explorations and Observations (York Dobyns)
The Global Consciousness Project: Subtle Interconnections and Correlations in Random Data (Roger D. Nelson)
An Analysis of the Global Consciousness Project (Peter A. Bancel)
Psi and the Environment: Local Sidereal Time and Geomagnetic Effects (S. James P. Spottiswoode)
Skeptical Responses to Psi Research (Ted Goertzel and Ben Goertzel)
The Future of Psi Research (Damien Broderick and Ben Goertzel)
The editors state in the introduction that: “On balance, we believe, the most direct and objective interpretation of the corpus of available psi data is that psi is probably a real phenomenon, though an odd and poorly understood one.” They also write: “The evidence for psi speaks for itself, if you take the time to listen to it. The more thoroughly and closely you listen, the louder it speaks—even if sometimes it seems to be speaking a confusing and foreign language, with ongoing changes to its vocabulary and grammar.” This does not means they are not aware of all kind of problems and of the need for further studies. Their introduction will be read with profit. It not only puts the topic in context, but it outlines problems, methodologies, skepticism, and various issues of interpretation.
While some of the chapters may be too technical (in terms of statistics) for the general reader, they present excellent reviews, offering, in fact, a state of the art of most aspects of experimental parapsychology. In fact, as such, this is the type of book we need in parapsychology to disseminate the research work both inside and particularly, outside of parapsychology.
It is my hope that similar high level publications will appear in the future about the non-experimental aspects of the field, reviewing studies of cases of different sorts in the same high quality way as that found in Evidence for Psi.