Archive for January, 2017


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.”