Archive for January, 2017


Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

I received this from the Parapsychology Foundation announcing new online  presentations.

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The Parapsychology Foundation (PF), now in its 66th year of operation this year, the PF has re-dedicated itself to one of its core mission, that of advancing education in parapsychology. In this spirit, the PF Lyceum Academy will offer the second in its series of PF International Affiliates Conferences on WizIQ, “New Faces in The Scientific Study of Psychic Phenomena.” Three post-graduate students from around the world have been recommended by members of the elite group of scientists and researchers in the Parapsychology Foundation’s International Affiliates Program. Pursuing advanced degrees and taking up important topics in the field, these young people will present their research and share their enthusiasm for the field and its challenges at this important conference! Join us! (To register click here.)

First a little bit about the Parapsychology Foundation International Affiliates program. Inaugurated in 2000 the program includes 27 extraordinary individuals from 26 different countries around the world. Each of these individuals – such as Professor Caroline Watt of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Dr. Fatima Machado of the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and Dr. Zoltan Vassy in Hungary – conduct research, mentor graduate students, are active researchers, or active professionals with a deep understanding of the subject matter. In the 2016 PF International Affiliates Conference on WizIQ five international affiliates gave presentations about institutional, educational and research developments in their own countries over the last 40 years. This year we went back to these extraordinary individuals and asked them to nominate a young person in training to take up scientific or academic work in this field. Ana Flores from the University of Edinburgh was nominated by Professor Watt, Csongor Matyi was nominated by Dr. Vassy, and Gabriel Teixeira was nominated by Dr. Machado. A conference of five sessions was built around these young researchers and their work.

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Here are the young researchers who will be speaking at the conference:

  • Ana Flores, a Ph.D. candidate at the University Edinburgh (UE), a member of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit in the Department of Psychology at UE, and a research fellow of the Bial Foundation in Portugal. Flores holds an LLB and an MA in Law, both awarded by the Universidade Autonoma of Lisbon, and worked as a lawyer for a dozen years. She also obtained a Diploma in Psychology from the Universidade Lusofona de Lisboa and an M.Sc. in Transpersonal Psychology and Consciousness Studies at the University of Northampton in England. Her presentation is “A New Light on the Replicability Problem in Parapsychology: Can Non-Local Correlations be an Answer?”  As part of an International Consortium, Flores’ presentation will review her doctoral work testing a new theoretical paradigm first developed by German physicist and scholar Walter von Lucadou.
  • Csongor Matyi received his M.A. from the University of Budapest where he first studied law and then after a year spent in the UK, switched to experimental and cognitive psychology. Taking part in the Paris Euro-PA Convention, he was introduced to the international community of researchers in parapsychology. Currently combining a psychological practice specializing in gifted children with lecturing on the history and methods of parapsychology at Eötvös Loránd University, he is also an active researcher and counselor. His presentation, “An Auto-Ganzfeld Study Conducted in 2011,” will focus on his M.A. thesis research.
  • Gabriel Teixeira received his Masters in Psychology from the Federal University of São Paulo in Brazil and is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of São Paul (USP) in Brazil as well as a member of InterPsi, the Laboratory of Anomalistic Psychology and Psychosocial Processes at USP. His presentation, “Varieties of Out-of-Body Experiences: Comparing OBErs and non-OBEs in a Brazilian Sample,” will review a study done for his masters thesis.

In addition, Lisette Coly, the President of the Parapsychology Foundation, and PF Research Fellows Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado and Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone will conduct the opening and closing sessions for the conference, focusing on the breadth of the PF International Affiliate program, its goals and accomplishments, and, in the closing session, on such upcoming activities as upcoming events and courses in the PF Lyceum Academy on WizIQ.

Individuals who attend or view all the lectures and take part in discussions will come away from the conference with the unique experience of meeting and hearing the work of up and coming new researchers as well as some of the latest research areas in the field. Individuals who attend will also become familiar with the Foundation’s work supporting researchers and students in a wide variety of countries. Because of the question and answer period after each lecture and the discussion forum available on the conference’s main page, attendees will also have the opportunity to meet and talk with others from around the world who share their interests and experiences.

To register click here.

 

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Reincarnation Course

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

I am copying this announcement of a remarkable reincarnation course from the website of the Parapsychology Foundation.

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Parapsychology Foundation Research Fellow, Dr. James G. Matlock, will be teaching his annual online course Signs of Reincarnation starting January 30th, 2017 and running for 15 weeks.

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Dr. James G. Matlock

Signs of Reincarnation is an online M.A.-level discussion course that covers all aspects of reincarnation studies, including ideas about reincarnation in different traditions, research methods for studying cases, the results of research with children’s and adult spontaneous cases, regression under hypnosis, and past-life readings of psychics and mediums. It addresses criticisms of the research and different interpretative frameworks that have been put forward for the research findings, through original lectures and readings from the reincarnation research literature.

Matlock’s course is conducted on the widely-used Moodle distant learning platform through The Alvarado Zingrone Institute for Research and Education. Designed to appeal to all those with a serious interest in reincarnation studies, students in previous courses have included people with past-life memories and researchers. Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove, the Dean of Programs in Transformation Psychology at the University of Philosophical Research, had this to say about it: “Having completed Jim Matlock’s course, Signs of Reincarnation, I can say that I am not aware of any other educational resource that offers such a comprehensive overview and analysis of the research data that has been collected over a period of many decades. Not only does Matlock review the most salient cases, he explains why each case lends weight to various interpretations and theories of ostensible reincarnation. Furthermore, in the process of preparing this course, Matlock has developed his own theory of reincarnation and he argues convincingly as to why it offers the most parsimonious explanation of this complex and fascinating body of knowledge. While the course focuses primarily on the published cases within the reincarnation literature, it also draws upon the larger fields of anthropology and cultural history.”

A student of metaphysics who took the course wrote “The course has high personal impact, and has enhanced my understanding immensely of the concept of spiritual growth. I found the class to be both challenging and fun and had a well established base line that shed light on an area of life, in a way that I had not experienced before. Thank you Jim for your communicator skills and ability to format this course in such a manner that my ideas have been changed by the lectures and readings which flowed succinctly toward provoking thought and wonder, of a topic that is so much a part of our daily life.”

The course is set up so that students can access the materials and discussion forums at any time, allowing for participation from all parts of the world. There are no pre-requisites, although it helps to have a college background and to be able to read and write well in English. All lectures and readings are provided in PDF format for download to desktop computer, tablet, or other device. Self-paced over the 15 weeks, students are expected to commit between 6 and 8 hours per week. There are optional written assignments at the conclusion of each week and a certificate of completion is awarded at the end of the course.

Here’s a list of the units for each week:

  1. Introduction to the Study of Reincarnation Signs
  2. The Belief in Reincarnation
  3. Research Styles and Interpretative Frames
  4. Child Studies: Episodic Memories, Statements and Recognitions
  5. Child Studies: Behavioral Signs of Reincarnation
  6. Child Studies: Physical Signs of Reincarnation
  7. Child Studies: The Interval Between Death and Rebirth
  8. Child Studies: Cross-Cultural and Cross-Historical Patterns
  9. Child Studies: The Psychology of Past-Life Memory
  10. From Child to Adult: The Developmental Continuum
  11. Past-Life Memory in Induced States of Consciousness
  12. The Contributions of Shamans, Psychics, and Mediums
  13. Mind/Brain Relations, Survival of Death, and Reincarnation
  14. Postmortem Survival and Reincarnation: Philosophy and Theory
  15. The Process of Reincarnation

The regular registration fee is $300. For students and those who live on fixed incomes, the course costs $150. Research assistantships and other in-kind arrangements may be available. All registrants will receive an ebook copy of I Saw a Light and Came Here: Children’s Experiences of Reincarnation, due to be published on February 1.

For more information go to the courses page on Dr. Matlock’s website by clicking here.

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Here is a study to test for the possibility that observations could affect an interference pattern, something consistent with von Neumann’s suggestion that human observation can affect physical systems.

Radin, D., Michel, L., & Delorme, A. (2016). Psychophysical modulation of fringe visibility in a distant double-slit optical system. Physics Essays. 29 (1), 14-22.

Abstract: To investigate von Neumann’s proposal that an “extra-physical process” is involved in the measurement of a quantum system, an online experiment was conducted using a double-slit optical system. In a counterbalanced fashion, participants focused their attention toward or away from a feedback signal linked in real-time to the double-slit component of an interference pattern. A line camera continuously recorded the interference pattern at 4 Hz, and for each camera image fringe visibility was determined for the central 20 fringes. During 2013 and 2014, a total of 1,479 people from 77 countries contributed 2,985 test sessions. Over the same period 5,738 sessions were run as controls by a computer programmed to simulate human participants. The results showed that with human observers the fringe visibility at the center of the interference pattern deviated from a null effect by 5.72 sigma (p = 1.05×10-8), with the direction of the deviation conforming to the observers’ intentions. The same analysis applied to the control data resulted in an overall deviation of -0.17 sigma. After consideration of alternative explanations, these results were found to support von Neumann’s conclusion that the mind of the observer is an inextricable part of the measurement process. This type of experiment offers a means of empirically resolving long-standing questions about the role of consciousness in the physical world.

The authors write:

“The present study . . . is consistent with von Neumann’s speculation that an extra-physical factor plays a role in the QMP. That said, these results do not support a strong role for the mind, as in consciousness literally causing a collapse of the quantum wave function . . . Rather, a more modest function is suggested whereby the mind has the capacity to modulate probabilities associated with the transition from quantum to classical behavior. In terms of absolute magnitude these modulations are subtle. In the present experiment the percentage change in fringe visibility due to observation was on average about 0.001%. Still, it is important to not confuse the size of an effect with its theoretical importance.”

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

I recently mentioned in a recent blog the forthcoming ParaMOOC 2017. As I said, this is a series of high level free online lectures on various aspects of parapsychology that will start on January 16th with live sessions through February 24th, and last-Sunday-of-the-month discussion forums until August 31st. Each presentation is illustrated with slides and given by guest lecturers. Eventually all the presentations will be available on YouTube.

The project is organized by Drs. Nancy L. Zingrone and Carlos S. Alvarado, and it is supported by the Parapsychology Foundation.

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Like previous ParaMOOCs, lecturers come from various countries. This year we have participants from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, England, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States.

To enroll and for additional information click here. See also  our YouTube announcement here.

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Here is the full program (all presentations will be real time at 2:00pm Eastern time):

January 23: Ed Kelly (PhD, US)

From Physicalism to Idealism: My Engagement with the Paranormal

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Ed Kelly

January 25: Gerhard Mayer (PhD, Germany)

The Specific Conditions of Parapsychological Research

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Gerhard Mayer

January 31: Ohkado Masayuki (PhD, Japan)

Children’s Prenatal and Perinatal Memories

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Ohkado Masayuki

February 3: Christopher Laursen (PhD, Canada)

Parapsychology and the Poltergeist

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Christopher Laursen

February 4: Alexander Sech Junior (PhD, Brazil)

Some Historical Aspects of 19th Century Studies of Psychic Phenomena

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Alexandre Sech Junior

February 5: Everton de Oliveira Maraldi (PhD, Brazil)

The Concept of Creative Dissociation: Contributions to the Study of Artístic Mediumship

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Everton de Oliveira Maraldi

February 10: Jack Hunter (PhD Candidate, England)

Between Realness and Unrealness: Anthropology, Parapsychology and the Ontology of Non-Ordinary Realities

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Jack Hunter

February 11: Daryl Bem (PhD, US)

Feeling the Future: Laboratory Experiments on Precognition

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Daryl Bem

February 14: Julia Mossbridge (PhD, US)

Predicting the Unpredictable: Evidence and Working Model

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Julia Mossbridge

February 15: Christine Simmonds-Moore (PhD, US)

Synesthesia and Psi

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Christine Simmonds-Moore

February 16: Peter Bancel (PhD, France)

Why the Global Consciousness Project Does Not Measure Global Consciousness

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Peter Bancel

February 18: Alejandro Parra (PhD, Argentina)

Learning to Read the Soul of Things”:

An Up-to-Date State of the Art Review of the Token-Object Effect and Psi

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Alejandro Parra

February 21: Charmaine Sonnex (PhD candidate, England)

A Review of Non-Contact Healing: Trials and Tribulations

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Charmaine Sonnex

February 22: Fabio da Silva (PhD, Brazil)

Could the Presentiment Studies be Useful for Psi Training Groups Research?

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Fabio da Silva

February 23: Etzel Cardeña (PhD, Sweden)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Personal Reflections About Parapsychology

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Etzel Cardeña

For more information on the course you can watch our YouTube announcement here.  And to sign up for the course itself click here.

Poltergeist Case

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Here is a recent report of a poltergeist case.

John Dixon, A case of ostensible poltergeist phenomena resulting in lingering haunt phenomena. Australian Journal of Parapsychology, 2016, 16, 7-39.

Abstract: An ostensible poltergeist case was investigated after a series of unexplained disturbances, including object movements, was witnessed at a small bar. The initial disturbances ceased after a 13-month period, which coincided with the departure of a staff member who displayed traits similar to RSPK agents. The case was investigated by surveying the remaining staff to document the disturbances they had personally experienced. This survey focused upon quantitative data, while follow-up questions looked at qualitative aspects. Five criteria were created to help determine if the disturbances were due to poltergeist or haunt phenomena. The results of the survey and interviews supported the hypothesis that poltergeist phenomena were occurring at the bar. After another 13-month period a second survey was conducted in order to compare disturbances against the results of the initial survey. The results of the second survey showed that poltergeist disturbances had ceased, having been replaced by disturbances seen in haunt cases. After researching possible causes of RSPK, it was concluded that the suspected RSPK agent may have been experiencing Spiritual Emergency which manifested as poltergeist activity. This in turn could have attracted a discarnate entity/entities that remained on the premises after the suspected RSPK agent had ceased employment at the bar.

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Those of you that follow this blog regularly will remember previous mentions of the ParaMOOC (click here, and here), a free, massively online course built around a series of high level lectures presented by researchers in the field

The next course, ParaMOOC 2017 will start on January 16th with live sessions through February 24th, and end-of-the-month discussion forums until August 31st. The course will consist of around 15 live (real time) presentations from guest lecturers, illustrated with slides, not to mention a few presentations from us, as well as weekly discussion forums.

Up to now the following researchers, from different countries, have confirmed their participation:

Peter Bancel (PhD, France), Daryl Bem (PhD, US), Ed Kelly (PhD, US), Jack Hunter (PhD candidate, England), Alexander Sech Junior (PhD, Brazil), Christopher Laursen (PhD, Canada), Everton de Oliveira Maraldi (PhD, Brazil), Ohkado Masayuki (PhD, Japan), Julia Mossbridge (PhD, US), Gerhard Mayer (PhD, Germany), Alejandro Parra (PhD, Argentina), Christine Simmonds-Moore (PhD, US), Charmaine Sonnex (PhD candidate, England), and Fabio da Silva (PhD, Brazil).

Some of the lectures are:

Daryl Bem: Feeling the Future: Laboratory Experiments on Precognition

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Daryl Bem, PhD

Christopher Laursen: Parapsychology and the Poltergeist

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Christopher Laursen, PhD

Julia Mossbridge: Predicting the Unpredictable: Evidence and Working Model

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Julia Mossbridge, PhD

Ohkado Masayuki: Children’s Prenatal and Perinatal Memories

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Ohkado Masayuki, PhD

Christine Simmonds-Moore: Synesthesia and Psi

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Christine Simmonds-Moore, PhD

Charmaine Sonnex: A Review of Non-Contact Healing: Trials and Tribulations

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Charmaine Sonnex, PhD Candidate

For enrollment (free) and additional information follow the link.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

I recently published a paper about auras. Its title is “The Variety of Aura Experiences” (Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 2016, 80, 223-229). The paper is a call to study the features of auras.

I may summarize the paper as follows: Regardless of the large occult and experiential literature on the topic there are no studies about such basic data as the proportion of reports of specific shapes, colors and other aspects of auras in a given sample of cases, or even in repeated observations by particular individuals. To illustrate how interesting and rich the topic is I used the example of the variety of shapes of auras and presented several descriptions. It is pointed out that there is a need to study other features, as well as to conduct studies that transcend the purely descriptive, such as the study of correlates of features, something that eventually will generate testable hypotheses and explanatory models.

The descriptions include accounts I have collected in previous research, as well as published accounts. I presented examples of halos, surrounds and outlines, glows, flashes or glimmers, beams, clouds, and examples of more than one form. Here are some examples.

“Only once saw ‘aura’—very radiant sapphire blue light, round figure of the healer . . . Dazzling and extending widely around him as he entered a hall, and stood on a platform.”

“When I look at people I clearly see sort of a shine that surrounds them, on their heads, shoulders and arms, with a width reaching 20 or 30 cm., and if I look more into the shine I start to see subtle colors . . .  Also, when I fix my sight on objects . . .  I see a shine around the whole object that varies in width from 1 to 2 cm, but this shine has no color, it is white and colorless.”

“Flames came out of him, as if they were sparkling and glimmering. When his hands came close to my body . . . I noticed an energy, similar to when the hands are put close to the television, accompanied with an agreeable warmth.”

“I saw a young woman whose face transformed and radiated a reddish smoke while she was trembling.”

I wrote at the end of the paper:

“While I have only used a few published sources to present descriptions of auras, I believe these cases are enough to illustrate the variety of accounts, and how interesting the descriptions are. Yet I am not aware of any systematic descriptive study of this, or of any other aura feature. The existing literature on the topic depends on the experiences of a handful of individuals, and at present we do not have clear and systematically-collected information about the shape of the aura (and its various other features) as we have in the case of apparitions, OBEs, NDEs, and other psychic experiences . . .”

“There are of course other things to explore about aura features in addition to their perceived shape. This includes colours, the place in the body around which the aura is seen . . . and how far it extends from the body . . . Second, going beyond a descriptive catalog of aura features it is necessary to explore factors potentially related to those features . . . [such as the circumstances of the observations] . . .”

“While I have focused here on features—a particular interest of mine—there is much to do along other lines. In addition to exploring various correlates, among them psychophysiological ones, a research programme about aura vision could approach the topic focusing on the two individuals involved. These are the persons around whom the aura is observed, as well as the observer.”