Archive for November, 2017


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

I have received this announcement from Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone, about new online presentations sponsored by the Parapsychology Foundation.

“The Parapsychology Foundation is presenting the fourth in its series of PF Book Expos on WizIQ. The live sessions of the PF Book Expo Fall 2017 will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, December 2nd, 2017. You can self-enroll in the course by following the link: http://pflyceum.wiziq.com/course/201514-parapsychology-foundation-book-expo-fall-2017 . You’ll need to set up a free WizIQ account if you haven’t got one already (choose “student” when it asks you what type of account you’d like). The live sessions will start at 11:00am Eastern on Saturday December 2nd and continue through 6:00pm Eastern. Enrollment will be open from November 29th through December 31st, 2017. If you can’t join us for the live sessions, the recordings will be up in the event space within a few hours. PowerPoints and chat logs from each session will be available by Sunday afternoon. You will have access as long as you have your WizIQ membership, and you can encourage colleagues to enroll through the end of the year.”

PF logo

“One author and two editors will talk about their recent books, touching on the content, the goals of their books, why they got involved in the process, what they learned along the way, and more. And in a new feature of the PF Book Expo Series, some classic books in the field will also be reintroduced to participants. Each talk will be followed by a question and answer session involving the registrants. All of the books are aimed at the intelligent reader, serious researchers in, and students of consciousness and parapsychology. The day will begin with a welcoming session at 11am Eastern and end with a wrap up session at 5:30pm Eastern.”

PF Book Expo Fall 2017 Logo

“Guest lecturers at the Parapsychology Foundation Book Expo Fall 2017:”

“Seasoned journalist and New York Times best-selling author Leslie Kean will present Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife published by Crown Archetype in March of 2017. Kean’s book is a well-researched and thorough overview of wide-ranging evidence that supports the theory that consciousness survives death. From near-death experiences to children’s anomalous memories of previous lives and mediumship research, Kean not only presents the results of her own research but includes chapters from the scientists and scholars from four countries who have provided the best of the evidence.”

Leslie Kean

Leslie Kean

Kean Surviving Death

“Physicist, former head of the US Department of Defense’s Stargate Program (1975-1995) Dr. Edwin C. May will present Anomalous Cognition: Remote Viewing and Theory published by McFarland Publishing in 2015.The volume edited by May and his colleague neuropsychologist Dr. Sonali Bhatt Marwaha, has chapters on every aspect of the Stargate Program, many of which have never been published before.”

Ed May 2

Ed May

Sonali Marwaha

Sonali Bhatt Marwaha

May Anomalous Cognition 2

“Anthropologist Jack Hunter will present Damned Facts: Fortean Essays on Religion, Folklore and the Paranormal published by Aporetic Press in 2016. Like Charles Fort’s books which ranged over all many of experiences and phenomena that pushed the envelope of what is real, Hunter and his collaborators examine a wide variety of topics from different perspectives, providing thoroughly researched accounts providing evidence for facts that conventional wisdom has long hoped to ignore.”

Jack Hunter

Jack Hunter

Hunter Damned Facts

“PF Research Fellow Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado will present a number of classic texts from the history of psychical research and parapsychology, four in some depth and the others less so, in an effort to highlight earlier books that deserve a closer look from the modern audience of researchers, students and scholars in the field.”

Carlos S. Alvarado 9jpg

Carlos S. Alvarado

Crookes Researches cover
Myers Human Personality 3

The Parapsychology Foundation Fall 2017 Book Expo is aimed at individuals who are interested in scientific parapsychology, its theory and phenomena, and in consciousness, near-death experiences, and the history of the field. You don’t need any particular level of education to enjoy the Expo, just curiosity about the topics.”

“The Parapsychology Foundation Book Expo series is the only place on the internet where you can get a “meet the author/meet the editor” experience for recommended academic and popular books on the topics of scientific parapsychology. So if you’re a student hoping to do research in near-death experiences, a new researcher or experiencer with an interest in consciousness theory and research, or just someone who is fascinated by the history of global efforts to understand this difficult subject, then the PF Book Expo Fall 2017 is for you.”

“Each individual will have a PowerPoint that will be uploaded as a tutorial in WizIQ. Each live lecture will also be recorded and besides being available on WizIQ, will be edited and uploaded to the PF’s YouTube Channel. (If you like what you see on the PF YouTube Channel don’t forget to subscribe and to click the “bell” after subscribing so that you get notifications of new uploads to the Channel.”

“By attending you will meet the authors and editors of books we think are among the best published in recent years on their topics.”

“While the course doesn’t prepare registrants for any certification or exams, the PF Book Expo Fall 2017 will acquaint you with some really good books that can help you in your quest to learn more!”

Here is the schedule:

December 2, 2017

11:00am Eastern time: Introduction: Nancy L. Zingrone and Lisette Coly

11:30am Eastern time: Leslie Kean, Surviving Death

1:00pm Eastern time: Carlos S. Alvarado, Classic and Important Books About Psychic Phenomena

2:30pm Eastern time: Ed May, Anomalous Cognition

4:00pm Eastern time: Jack Hunter, Damned Facts

5:30pm Eastern time: Closing Session, Nancy L. Zingrone

 

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

Here is a metanalysis of dream ESP experiments: On the correspondence between dream content and target material under laboratory conditions: A meta-analysis of dream-ESP studies, 1966-2016, by Lance Storm, Simon J. Sherwood, Chris A. Roe, Patrizio E. Tressoldi, Adam J. Rock, and Lorenzo Di Risio (International Journal of Dream Research, 2017, 10, 120-140; for reprints write to the first author: lance.storm@adelaide.edu.au).

Lance Storm 2

Lance Storm

Simon Sherwood

Simon Sherwood

Chris Roe 2

Chris Roe

Patrizio Tressoldi 5

Patrizio Tressoldi

Adam Rock

Adam Rock

Lorenzo Di Risio

Lorenzo Di Risio

 

Here is the abstract:

In order to further our understanding about the limits of human consciousness and the dream state, we report meta-analytic results on experimental dream-ESP studies for the period 1966 to 2016. Dream-ESP can be defined as a form of extra-sensory perception (ESP) in which a dreaming perceiver ostensibly gains information about a randomly selected target without using the normal sensory modalities or logical inference. Studies fell into two categories: the Maimonides Dream Lab (MDL) studies (n = 14), and independent (non-MDL) studies (n = 36). The MDL dataset yielded mean ES = .33 (SD = 0.37); the non-MDL studies yielded mean ES = .14 (SD = 0.27). The difference between the two mean values was not significant. A homogeneous dataset (N = 50) yielded a mean z of 0.75 (ES = .20, SD = 0.31), with corresponding significant Stouffer Z = 5.32, p = 5.19 × 10-8, suggesting that dream content can be used to identify target materials correctly and more often than would be expected by chance. No significant differences were found between: (a) three modes of ESP (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition), (b) senders, (c) perceivers, or (d) REM/non-REM monitoring. The ES difference between dynamic targets (e.g., movie-film) and static (e.g., photographs) targets was not significant. We also found that significant improvements in the quality of the studies was not related to ES, but ES did decline over the 51-year period. Bayesian analysis of the same homogeneous dataset yielded results supporting the ‘frequentist’ find­ing that the null hypothesis should be rejected. We conclude that the dream-ESP paradigm in parapsychology is worthy of continued investigation, but we recommend design improvements.”

It is concluded:

“Our review has shown that dream ESP remains a promis­ing, if somewhat neglected, area for parapsychological research. Combined effect sizes for both Maimonides and post-Maimonides studies suggest that judges may be able to use dream mentations to identify target materials cor­rectly more often than would be expected by chance.”

“Sherwood and Roe (2013) concluded that the Maimonides studies were more successful than the post-Maimonides studies, and attributed that difference to “procedural differ­ences rather than improvements in security” (p. 72). This may not be entirely true. Our results do not support claims of MDL success over non-MDL studies, though we do con­cede that other test findings suggest the MDL series may have been superior.”

“Our meta-analysis has identified key issues and key con­cerns to do mainly with methodological quality and process-oriented factors that covary with study outcomes. However, the database may prove to be too heterogeneous, some­times with too few studies in subsets, for such analyses to provide reliable insights.”

Finally, in the author’s view “dream ESP is (i) a demonstrable effect; (ii) not governed by experimenter, or laboratory, or historical context; (iii) inde­pendent of (a) psi modality; (b) REM monitoring; (c) target type; and (d) agent and perceiver arrangements; and (iv) perhaps independent of the number of choices in a target set. Some of these findings conflict with what we find to be evident of the free-response paradigm (including Ganzfeld) and the forced-choice paradigm, and it remains to be seen if our conclusions are premature, or dream ESP is, in a num­ber of ways, an ESP sub-type different in degree or kind.”

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

Many individuals involved in parapsychology today are not well read on the past literature of their field. Some are newcomers while others are not interested in historical studies but in conducting research on the phenomena and speculating about their importance. Nonetheless there are many benefits that current workers may obtain from the old literature. This includes a better understanding of the reason for and development of theories, methodologies, and controversies, the social factors that have influenced the field, and the persons involved in its development, including researchers, facilitators, mediums and psychics. In addition, the past literature of the field (somewhat different from its history), is particularly useful to develop hypothesis for research, not to mention putting current results in the context of previous findings and ideas.

Because this literature is not generally within the purview of parapsychologists, and others, I would like to present here some reading suggestions to help current workers in the field find information about the work of previous generations. These consist of various secondary sources that will be of help to locate the important primary literature of the field. Due to my interests in the field I will focus on information sources about developments between the late 19th century and the 1930s.

Overviews

A good way to start is to check some of the old overviews of psychical research, which summarize much about research findings, theories, and controversies. Some examples are William Barrett’s (1911) Psychical Research (New York: Holt), Hereward Carrington’s (1930) The Story of Psychic Science (London; Rider), A.C. Holms’ (1927) The Facts of Psychic Science and Philosophy Collated and Discussed (Jamaica, NY: Occult Press), Frank Podmore’s (1897)  Studies in Psychical Research (London: G.P. Putnam’s), Charles Richet’s (1922) Traité de Métapsychique (Paris: Félix Alcan; and the English translation of the

Barrett Psychical Research

Holms The Facts of Psychic Science

Podmore Studies in Psychical Research 2

second edition, (1923) Thirty Years of Psychical Research. New York: Macmillan), Emilio Servadio’s (1930) La Ricerca Psichica ([Psychical Research]. Rome: Cremonese); and René Sudre’s (1926) Introduction à la Métapsychique Humaine (Paris: Payot, 1926; and a later revised edition, Treatise on Parapsychology (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1960, original work published in French 1956). 

Richet Traite de metapsychique 4

Sudre Introduction 4
An informative reference source is Fanny Moser’s (1935) treatise Der okkultismus: Tauschungen und Tatsachen (Occultism: Deception and Fact. 2 vols. Munich: Von Ernst Reinhardt). The book opens with discussions about positive and negative views about psychic phenomena, and some early investigations (e.g., the work of the London Dialectical Society, William Crookes, Cesare Lombroso, and the Society for Psychical Research). It also has a section about deception and facts in which Moser has chapters about the subconscious mind, sleep and dreams, and other psychological topics. Furthermore, this work has chapters about telepathy, clairvoyance, physical mediumship, and animal magnetism.

Moser Okkultismus

Also useful are book chapters such as  Harvey J. Irwin and Caroline Watt’s (2007) “Origins of Parapsychological Research” (An Introduction to Parapsychology (5th ed.) Jefferson, NC: McFarland) and Nancy L. Zingrone and Carlos S. Alvarado’s (2016) “A Brief History of Psi Research” (In E.C May & S.B. Marwaha (Eds.), Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science: Vol. 1: History, Controversy, and Research (pp. 35-79). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger).

For years I have been publishing articles covering aspects of the old psychical research literature. Some of them include:

(1987). (Second author, with N.L. Zingrone). (1987). Historical aspects of parapsychological terminology. Journal of Parapsychology, 51, 49‑74.

(1989). ESP displacement effects: A review of pre-1940 concepts and qualitative observations. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 83, 227‑239.

(2001). (first author, with E. Coly, L. Coly, and N.L. Zingrone). Fifty years of supporting parapsychology: The Parapsychology Foundation (1951-2001). International Journal of Parapsychology, 12, 1-26.

(2009). Early and modern developments in the psychological approach to out-of-body experiences. In C. D. Murray (Ed.), Psychological Scientific Perspectives on Out-of-Body and Near-Death Experiences (pp. 1-22). New York: Nova Science.

(2012). Dream ESP studies before Maimonides: An overview, 1880s-1950s.  Aquém e Além do Cerebro: Behind and Beyond the Brain (pp. 77-101). Porto, Portugal: Fundação Bial.

(2012). Psychic phenomena and the mind-body problem: Historical notes on a neglected conceptual tradition. In A. Moreira-Almeida and F.Santos (Eds.), Exploring frontiers of the mind-brain relationship (pp. 35-51). New York: Springer.

 (2013). Mediumship and psychical research. In C. Moreman (Ed.), The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World (Vol. 2, pp. 127-144). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

(2014). Mediumship, psychical research, dissociation, and the powers of the subconscious mind. Journal of Parapsychology, 78, 98–114.

(2014). Classic Text No. 98: ‘Visions of the Dying,’ by James H. Hyslop (1907). History of Psychiatry, 25, 237-252.

(2016). Psychic phenomena and the brain hemispheres: Some Nineteenth-Century publications. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 30, 559–585.

Many authors have published articles about other topics. A few examples are:

Evrard, R. (2017). Institut Métapsychique International. Psi Encyclopedia.

Evrard, R., & Rabeyron, T. (2012). Les psychanalystes et le transfert de pensée:Enjeux historiques et actuelles [Psychoanalysts and thought-transference: Historical and current issues]. L’Evolution Psychiatrique, 77, 589-598.

Gissurarson, L. R., & Haraldsson, E. (2001). History of parapsychology in Iceland. International Journal of Parapsychology, 12, 29-51.

Hacking, I. (1988). Telepathy: Origins of randomisation in experimental design. Isis, 79, 427-451.

Hunter, J. (2015). Anthropology and Psi Research. Psi Encyclopedia.

Machado, F.R. and Zangari, W., (2017). Psi Research in Brazil. Psi Encyclopedia

Matlock, J.G. (2017). Reincarnation Accounts Pre-1900. Psi Encyclopedia.

Nisbet, B. (1973). Table turning: A brief historical note mainly for the period 1848-1853. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 47, 96-106.

Parra, A. (1995). Parapsychology in Argentina: Brief history and future possibilities.
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. 60, 214-228.

Rhine, J. B. (1977). History of experimental studies. In B. B. Wolman (Ed.), Handbook of
Parapsychology (pp. 25-47). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Rhine, L. E. (1971). The establishment of basic concepts and terminology in parapsychology. Journal of Parapsychology, 35, 34–56.

Rogo, D.S. (1988). Experimental parapsychology before 1900. Parapsychology Review, 19(4), 11-16.

Stokes, D. M. (2002). A history of the relationship between statistics and parapsychology. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 96, 15-73.

Other topics will be covered in later comments.

*Most of the information presented here appeared first in Alvarado, C.S. (2016-2017). The history of parapsychology: A brief bibliography. Mindfield, 8(3), 105-109;  9(1), 14-17. Mindfield is the bulletin of the Parapsychologicl Association.

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

In a recent article in History of Psychiatry that I wrote with Massimo Biondi we presented an excerpt of Cesare Lombroso’s writings about pathology in the medium Eusapia Palladino (Alvarado, C.S., & Biondi, M. Classic Text No. 110: Cesare Lombroso on Mediumship and Pathology. History of Psychiatry, 2017, 28, 225–241).

Massimo Biondi 3

Massimo Biondi

Here is the abstract: “During the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, students of pathology such as Cesare Lombroso (1835–1909), the author of the excerpt presented here, became involved in observing, investigating and theorizing about the phenomena of Spiritualism, and mediumship in particular. The Classic Text presented here consists of an excerpt from Lombroso’s writings which focus on the Italian medium Eusapia Palladino (1854–1918), who greatly influenced Lombroso’s beliefs. Lombroso illustrates neglected theoretical ideas combining the interaction of pathology and what seem to be real psychic phenomena that have not received much attention in historical studies.”

Cesare Lombroso circa 1890

Cesare Lombroso

Eusapia Palladino 16

During the Nineteenth-Century, as well as later, several physicians and others postulated that mediumship was a pathological condition and that mediumistic phenomena were explained solely by dissociation, automatisms, fraud, and other conventional means (click here). Lombroso represents a different group within those that pathologized mediumship. He believed in real mediumistic phenomena, in the sense of veridical communications and the occurrence of physical phenomena such as movement of objects and materializations. In other words, Lombroso admitted what we refer to as “the coexistence of both pathology and the supernormal.”

As Biondi and I discussed in our introduction to the excerpt such an idea was defended by others during the period in question. We also argued that Lombroso was no stranger to the process of pathologizing various non-mediumistic behaviors: “Lombroso proposed that there were born criminals and that they presented particular inherited physical and mental signs of degeneration and atavism, some of which included common facial bone structure, as well as abnormal tactile sensibility and arterial pressure. Furthermore, they showed abnormalities in their bones, especially the skull, and left-handedness, all of which he considered to be clear marks of atavism and degeneration . . . Women and geniuses did not escape Lombroso’s schema. In fact, he associated genius with pathology, pointing out that there had been frequent examples of geniuses going insane.”

Lombroso L'Uomo Delinquente

Lombroso Ferraro Donna

In 1891 Lombroso had sittings with Palladino, which convinced him that her telekinetic and materialization phenomena were genuine . . . Because of Lombroso’s international fame, his conversion received a great deal of publicity, thereby attracting the interest of others to this medium. Soon afterwards, she was studied by a group of scholars and scientists in Milan, the first important investigation of her phenomena involving various conditions and scientific instruments . . .  This was followed by several other investigations published in the 1890s . . . and the following decade . . .” (for examples click here and here).

Eusapia Palladino 9

Eusapia Palladino

Lomboso’s most important and best known publication on psychic phenomena was Ricerche sui Fenomeni Ipnotici e Spiritici (1909), a book that was translated into English as After Death – What? Spiritistic Phenomena and their Interpretation (1909). The translation, from which we took the excerpt about Palladino, is somewhat different from the original Italian edition. After Death – What? Has 14 chapters some of which are entitled: Hypnotic Phenomena, Experiments with Eusapia, The Power and Action of Mediums, Limitations of the Power of the Medium, Phantasms and Apparitions of the Dead, and Haunted Houses. In this book Lombroso stated that he felt some phenomena were the product of discarnate agency.

Lombroso Ricerche

 Lombroso After death WhatHowever, as we wrote, Lombroso also discussed Palladino’s phenomena assuming “an exteriorization of nervous force . . . caused by her unusual pathological state, similar to that of hysterics and the hypnotized. To some extent, but in a highly unorthodox way, the ideas of pathology presented in the excerpt were an extension of Lombroso’s ideas about criminals, the mentally ill and women.”

In the excerpt we present in this article Lombroso lists many phenomena he believed were hysterical symptoms presented by Palladino.  For example, he wrote: “She has the hyperaesthesic zone, especially in the ovary. She has the bole in the oesophagus that women with hysteria have, and general weakness, or paresis, in the limbs of the left side . . . She passes rapidly from joy to grief . . . has strange phobias (for example, the fear of staining her hands), is extremely impressionable and subject to dreams in spite of her mature age. Not rarely she has hallucinations, frequently sees her own ghost. As a child she believed two eyes glared at her from behind trees and hedges. When she is in anger, especially when her reputation as a medium is insulted, she is so violent and impulsive as actually to fly at her adversaries and beat them.”

In our conclusion we stated: “Our introduction, and Lombroso’s excerpt, is but a reminder of the complexity of ideas about pathology and psychic phenomena. While most of those who pathologized mediumship in the past reduced mediumistic phenomena to abnormal functioning as well as to conventional explanations of different sorts, Lombroso exhibited a variant position defending the existence of the supernormal nature of the phenomena (the actual occurrence of telekinesis and materializations) while accepting that the medium presented psychopathological symptoms. To make the topic even more complex, Lombroso eventually accepted the action of discarnate spirits as an explanation of mediumship. This reminds us that in the historical study of ideas about mediumship we need to consider such complex interactions between pathology, and human and spirit agency.”

“Lombroso’s speculations included ideas, based on his own and others’ concepts, about the nature of women . . . In summary, Lombroso’s discussion of Palladino contains much from his previous ideas. In his writings, the medium took the role of the criminal, the mentally ill and women in general. That is, the medium provided him with a further opportunity to defend some of his ideas, while at the same time he was extending the materialistic paradigm that inspired them. Lombroso’s work represents a particularly rich example of the blending of ideas from psychiatry, criminal anthropology and psychical research, and about the materialistic and the spiritual.” 

Photos of Palladino in After Death—What?

Eusapia Palladino in Trance from Lombroso 1909

Palladino in Trance

Eusapia Palladino older

PALLADINO 1892 MILANO

Table Levitation, 1892