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At the End of 2017

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

One more year has gone by, and this one, I think, really fast. May I wish all of you a (belated) Merry Christmas (or, if you do not celebrate Christmas, a good end of 2017)?

christmas mistletoe

Many good things, and some sad ones, have touched my life during this year. The latter includes the devastation of my country, Puerto Rico, by a hurricane. May the “Isla del Encanto” recover with the passage of time.

Puerto Rico Map 2

Source: https://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/namerica/caribb/pr.htm

Among the good things I can mention my daily life, and my parapsychology work. This past year I received from the Parapsychological Association the 2017 Outstanding Career Award. I was not able to receive the award in person at the last convention of the Association held in Athens, Greece, but I sent a short acceptance speech that was read in absentia by Etzel Cardeña.  Among other things, I said: “I guess some of you may think that, because the career award is conferred to senior members of the PA, I am on my way to the retirement home. Do not fear. I still have all my hair and it is not white yet. I keep myself busy writing various articles . . . . I also plan to continue with new work, especially now that I have been inspired even more by this PA award.”

As you know my blogs have continued over this past year classified under the following topics: Conferences and Other Events, Digital Resources, Education, Organizations and Groups, People in Parapsychology, Phenomena, Recent Publications, Voices from the Past, and Writing History. I particularly enjoy posting about recently published articles because this shows the dynamic work that characterizes modern parapsychology. Examples include:

Metanalysis of Dream ESP Studies

Review of Trends in Publications about “Consciousness Beyond the Brain”

Author Interview: XII. Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience, by David Luke

David Luke

David Luke

Luke Otherworlds

Recent Articles About Near-Death Experiences: II.

Quantum Retrocausation

Experimental Parapsychology in the Psi Encyclopedia

I have also prepared various bibliographies hoping to use the blog for educational purposes. I do not expect any of you to read these in detail, but I hope you will remember they are in the blog if you need them or that you may tell students and others who may benefit from them that they are available. What can I say, the honor is to help, or to compile?

The Past Literature of Parapsychology: A Reading Guide: I.

The Past Literature of Parapsychology: A Reading Guide: II.

Parapsychology and Psychology Bibliography: I. Overviews

Parapsychology and Psychology Bibliography: II. History

Parapsychology and Psychology Bibliography: III. Clinical Issues

I am also happy to have continued my series of interviews with individuals working in parapsychology, as seen in People in Parapsychology: XXXIV. Sonali Bhatt Marwaha, and People in Parapsychology: XXXIII. Everton de Oliveira Maraldi, People in Parapsychology: XXXII: Michael Nahm, and Interview with Lisette Coly, President of the Parapsychology Foundation.

Sonali Marwaha

Sonali Bhatt Marwaha

Lisette Coly 5

Lisette Coly

Some of my blogs have been about online events sponsored by the Parapsychology Foundation that I have helped to organize. These are:

Parapsychology Foundation Book Expo 2017

PF Book Expo Fall 2017 Logo

New Online PF Conference: New Faces in Parapsychology

PF New Faces Conference Logo

Program of ParaMOOC 2017

ParaMOOC 2017 Banner

As most of you know, separate from my blog I publish papers about various aspects of parapsychology, mainly historical ones. I published some in 2017 that appeared in journals, and in the Society for Psychical Research’s Psi Encyclopedia. I mentioned most of these in the blog (e.g., click here, here, and here).

Some of CSA’s Articles Published in 2017

(second author, with E. de Oliveira Maraldi). Classic Text No. 113: Final Chapter, From India to the Planet Mars: A Study of a Case of Somnambulism with Glossolalia, by Théodore Flournoy (1900). History of Psychiatry, 2017, Oct 1:957154X17734782. doi: 10.1177/0957154X17734782.

Flournoy From India 2

(first author, with M. Biondi). Classic Text No. 110: Cesare Lombroso on Mediumship and Pathology. History of Psychiatry,  2017, 28, 225-241.

 Cesare Lombroso 4

Cesare Lombroso

Telepathy, Mediumship and Psychology: Psychical Research at the International Congresses of Psychology, 1889–1905.  Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2017, 31, 255-292.

Janet Congres Psychologie

Psychology and Parapsychology. In R. McLuhan (Ed.), Psi Encyclopedia. London: Society for Psychical Research, 2017.

Ernesto Bozzano’s ‘Phénomènes Psychiques au Moment de la Mort’ (Psychic Phenomena at the Moment of Death). In R. McLuhan (Ed.), Psi Encyclopedia. London: Society for Psychical Research, 2017.

Bozzano Phenomenes Psychiques Mort

Parapsychology Foundation. In R. McLuhan (Ed.), Psi Encyclopedia. London: Society for Psychical Research, 2017.

PF logo

Podmore’s Apparitions and Thought-Transference. In R. McLuhan (Ed.), Psi Encyclopedia. London: Society for Psychical Research, 2017.

Podmore Apparitions and Thought-Transference 2

I will continue working along the same, and perhaps some new lines, in 2018. I hope you stay with me and recommend the blog to others who may want to subscribe. My best wishes for the coming year.

Happy New Year Banner

Unpaid and unacknowledged (but greatly appreciated) Blog Staff

Nancy L. Zingrone 4

Nancy L. Zingrone (advisor, proofreader, and morale officer)

Spotty and Pinky 14

Spotty and Pinky: Master proofreaders

 

 

 

 

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

In 1907 Italian physiologist Filippo Bottazzi (1867–1941) joined the ranks of investigators
of Palladino who became convinced of her phenomena. By this time Bottazzi’s scientific career was established, his having won several awards and important university appointments. He went on to become even more eminent in later years, although it has been argued that he has been somewhat forgotten. His work on Palladino, first published in Italian in the Rivista d’Italia (1907), was translated and published in the same year in French and English).

Filippo Bottazzi

Filippo Bottazzi

The studies received much publicity in several European countries. There were also many discussions of the seances in the United States, as seen in writer Hamlin Garland’s (1860–1940) book The Shadow World (1908) and in historian and writer Gustavus Myers’ (1872–1942) Beyond the Borderline of Life (1910), not to mention many articles in magazines. Somewhat later Bottazzi (1909) presented a similar account of the seances in a book entitled Fenomeni Medianici Osservati in una Serie di Sedute Fatte con Eusapia Paladino (Naples: Francesco Perrella, 1909), which recent translation is the topic of this review (Mediumistic Phenomena: Observed in a Series of Sessions with Eusapia Palladino, by Filippo Bottazzi, translated by Irmeli Routti and Antonio Giuditta. Princeton, NJ: ICRL Press, 2011).

 

Bottazzi Mediumistic phenomena

Mediumistic Phenomena is the result of neurobiologist Antonio Giuditta’s interest in the seances Bottazzi had with Palladino in 1907. His work has been presented to members of the Society for Scientific Exploration both in a paper delivered at the Eighth European SSE Meeting held in Italy in August of 2009 and in an article published in the Society’s Journal (The 1907 psychokinetic experiments of Professor Filippo Bottazzi. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 24, 495–512). The book was translated by Giuditta, together with Irmeli Routti.

It consists of a report of eight seances conducted in Bottazzi’s laboratory in which a variety of instrumental studies were made. Many of the seances were attended as well by physicians and scientists. Some of them included Gino Galeotti (professor of general pathology), Tommaso De Amicis (professor of dermatology and syphilograph), Oscar Carpa (professor of physics), Luigi Lombardi (professor of electrotechnology), and Sergio Pansini (professor of medical semiotics). There were also others who joined some of the seances, among them engineer Emmanuela Jona, senator Antonio Cardarelli, and Bottazzi’s wife. Her full name, which is not mentioned in the report, was Annunziata Fabbri.

By the time Bottazzi entered the scene there had been a long history of studies of physical mediums and of Palladino in particular, not to mention a rich Italian history of the subject. But Bottazzi admitted in his Introduction that he “had read little or nothing of” (p. 4) mediumistic phenomena. He stated that he had heard of the studies of Richet and others and that he had been impressed by Barzini’s articles on Palladino published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. The articles led him first to a state of doubt and then to being interested in studying the topic himself. This was a reference to journalist Luigi Barzini (1874–1947), who popularized the medium in his articles, works that were collected in a book (Nel Mondo dei Misteri con Eusapia Paladino. Milan: Baldini, Castoldi, 1907).

Barzini Nel Mondo Eusapia Paladino

Bottazzi stated that not all the phenomena witnessed by him and his collaborators were included in the book. For example, in the account of the first seance he stated: “Given the little relevance of the phenomena observed during the fi rst session, the sequence of their appearance is not worth describing. I will summarize in few words the results obtained” (p. 39). Later Bottazzi said: “Not caring about the precise sequence of observed events, I prefer to describe them briefly” (p. 45). Nonetheless the book contains many descriptions such as the following.

At one point during the fifth seance a switch that was connected to a lamp was moved around and thrown on the seance table by an “invisible hand.” The light was then turned on and off several times. Later on:

“The switch was placed on the table. Eusapia said: ‘Look how it is moving.’ We all fixed our gaze on the small object and we saw that it rose a few millimeters above the table top, oscillated and vibrated, as if invaded by an interior quiver. Eusapia’s hands, held by Galeotti and me, were at least thirty centimeters away from the switch” (p. 113).

Regarding one common phenomena, table levitations, Bottazzi wrote in his
account of the fourth seance:

“We obtained a levitation lasting about 10 seconds at a height of 30–40 cm and a shorter but higher one while Palladino was the only one standing up. Finally, at the end of the session, an additional levitation occurred that lasted several seconds while all of us were standing up at Palladino’s request. . . . Sometimes we tried all together to lower it by pressing its surface with our hands, but without success. It yielded and lowered a little but as soon as we let go our hands it rose up again” (p. 89).

An interesting phenomenon, and one reported frequently by previous investigators of Palladino, was that of synchronisms. As Bottazzi explained: “Any mediumistic event was almost always occurring simultaneously with movements of one or more parts of the medium’s body. . . .” (p. 62)

For example, during the second seance:

“The table started moving by steps, every pull perfectly corresponding to pressures and pulls made by Palladino’s hands on our hands (mine and Pansini’s). . . . Every pull of the small table corresponded in perfect synchrony with a push by Eusapia’s leg against Jona’s knee and with the contraction of her thigh muscles” (p. 46).

Bottazzi stated that the synchrony between actions showed “a common point of origin,” the will of the medium (p. 127).

Interestingly Mrs. Bottazzi seemed to attract phenomena such as touches. In answer to the question if she had mediumistic powers, the medium’s spirit control John King answered in the affirmative. As her husband wrote about the third seance:

“The curtain swelled around her several times, like hugging. She was unceasingly touched, fondled (she said it felt like a cat climbing up her right arm toward her shoulder), tapped on her shoulder with something like the open palm of a hand (and we all heard the blows), and she was the one who saw the largest number of apparitions” (p. 60).

Several of the instruments used produced graphic recordings that were presented by Bottazzi to show the objectivity of the manifestations:

“The telegraph key was struck several times. . . . We all clearly heard the typical sounds of energetic, quick hits. To certify that it was not an illusion, or a collective hallucination,
the second trace from the top . . . shows three groups of signals and two isolated beats in between them” (pp. 71–72).

Bottazzi Palladino Instruments

Instruments used by Bottazzi

Other devices produced graphic recordings as well. There are also brief descriptions of failures to obtain effects on the instruments.

Similar to previous observers, Bottazzi reported some physiological observations of the medium after the seance:

“It is noteworthy that after every session Palladino had considerable hyperalgesia (exaggerated sensitivity to pain) on her hands, especially on their back side. She said it felt like burning, as if her hands had been immersed in lye for a long time. In fact, her hands were always red and hot, and the subcutaneous veins appeared full of blood”
(p. 132).

In addition, analyses were made of the content of the medium’s urine, before and after the sixth and seventh seances. With regard to the sixth seance, Bottazzi stated:

“Comparison of the two samples of urine showed that the one taken after the session was considerably more concentrated. It had a higher specific weight, higher osmotic pressure and electric conductivity. Total nitrogen and albumin were also increased.”

“Kidneys seemed to produce more concentrated urine during the sessions. Despite the presence of albumin and sugar, values of osmotic pressure and electric conductivity of the urine diff ered little or not at all from the normal levels. Microscopic examination never showed the presence of kidney cells nor cylinders. This was a strange case of chronic albuminuria without defi nitive sign of nephritis.”

“The observation of strong urine acidity and abundant content in uric acid was remarkable. Some uric acid crystals were already present shortly after urine was collected. Their number increased enormously, and the layer they formed with time became macroscopically visible while the urine remained acid. Eusapia was undoubtedly a subject of clearly arthritic character, a uricemic person” (pp. 151–152).

Relevant to these results, Palladino suffered from diabetes and died of nephritis.

Synchronic phenomena and observations such as the following led Bottazzi to speculate that the medium produced projections from her body such as “invisible hands.” According to his report of the seventh seance:

“I saw a human hand of natural color, and I felt with my hand the fingers and the back
of a lukewarm, muscular, rough hand. The hand vanished, and my eyes saw it retreat,
describing an arc of a circle. As if entering back into Palladino’s body” (pp. 165–166, italics
in the original)

Interestingly, Bottazzi states that during the eighth seance Galeotti saw two left arms in the medium. He presents in his book what I presume is his recollection of Galeotti’s statement during the seance:

‘I see two identical left arms. One is on the table and is the one Mrs. Bottazzi is holding,
the other seems to come out from Eusapia’s shoulder, to approach Mrs. Bottazzi, touch her, and then return back and melt into Eusapia’s body, vanishing” (p. 180).

Such observations led to ideas about a “splitting of . . . physiological personality” (p. 198) consisting of limbs or complete figures emanating from the medium’s body. Bottazzi believed that with these hands “[the medium] felt form, consistency, cold and hot, hard and soft, humid and dry, exactly the same way she would feel by touching and feeling with her physical hands. . . .” (pp. 117–118).

Furthermore, Bottazzi wrote:

Mediumistic phenomena are not mere hallucinations of those attending sessions known as spiritualistic sittings. They are biological phenomena depending on the MEDIUM’s organism. If they are such, they occur AS IF they are operated by the extensions of natural limbs or by additional limbs stemming out of the MEDIUM’s body, and returning and dissolving into it after variable time. During those periods they reveal themselves by the sensations they elicit in us as limbs in no essential way different from natural limbs” (p. 201, Bottazzi’s italics)

The book is a useful contribution in that it presents in English a difficult to obtain book about the medium in question. Contemporary readers will appreciate having a translation of it. The instrumental and physiological tests show the scientific spirit in which some mediumistic research was conducted in the old days, and serve as a reminder of Italian scientific interest in mediumship, a topic that includes the work of other individuals such as Cesare Lombroso and Enrico Morselli.

Cesare Lombroso 3

Cesare Lombroso

*Most of these comments were published before in this review: Bottazzi and Palladino: The 1907 seances. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2012, 26, 159–167.

 

 

 

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

In the past there have been many discussions about the relationships between psychology and parapsychology. An example is Gertrude R. Schmeidler’s Parapsychology and Psychology: Matches and Mismatches (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1988). I have discussed aspects of this topic recently in “Psychology and Parapsychology” (In R. McLuhan [Ed.], Psi Encyclopedia. London: Society for Psychical Research).

Gertrude Schmeidler 2

Gertrude Schmeidler

The purpose of the article is to discuss the interrelationship of both fields in terms of psychological research findings, psychological theories, and various contributions of parapsychology to psychology. “Psychic phenomena,” I wrote, “manifest dynamic aspects, and personality and cognitive variables, suggesting they are part of normal psychological processes.”

In two sections I covered correlates of ESP experiments. This includes various personality and cognitive variables, as well as attitudes. “Experimental studies suggest that ESP is associated with relaxed states . . . Laboratory dream studies and ganzfeld experiments have also shown evidence for ESP . . . Some believe that the partial sensory deprivation produced by ganzfeld conditions favors ESP. Others are less convinced of this, arguing that factors other than ASCs are involved . . . – something that must be generally considered in research with psychological variables.” 

Regarding survey studies “ESP experiences, and sometimes other phenomena such as seeing apparitions and auras, have been reported to be related to fantasy proneness . . . The same may be said of other psychological constructs: absorption; . . . boundary thinness; an openness to experiences such as emotions, intimacy and daydreaming; . . . dissociation; . . . emotional empathy; . . . hypnotic susceptibility; . . . transliminality; and a predisposition for experiencing emotions, imagery, thoughts or other psychological material from the unconscious regions of the mind . . .”  Research with other phenomena such as OBEs and mediumship is also briefly discussed.

I also summarize several psychological concepts and theoretical models developed to make sense of psychic experiences. “The idea that ESP is processed unconsciously has a long history . . . Myers . . . thought that telepathy was handled by the subliminal regions of the mind, and this idea can be seen in different ways in the writings of researchers to the present day.” The work of Carpenter, Eysenck, Irwin, and Stanford is mentioned. Summarizing James Carpenter’s ideas, I wrote: “James Carpenter . . . has proposed the most detailed psychological model to date, which he calls First Sight. The model assumes that psi is working continuously, but unconsciously, and that it is the initial contact our minds have with the world: first sight, so to speak. Such psi processes, like sensory and motor ones, are part of our usual cognitive processes, directed by unconscious intentions and mediated by goals, needs and dispositions. They interact with and make use of psychological resources such as memory, creativity, and conscious and unconscious perception. They are expressed primarily by inadvertent but potentially accessible experiences and behaviors. All behavior and experience are thought to begin at the psi level of transaction, even if we are not aware of it. The process is not seen as a special ability, but rather as a basic aspect of human beings, and perhaps of all sentient creatures.”

Jim Carpenter 2

James C. Carpenter

 

Carpenter First Sight

I argue, as have others before me, that parapsychology has made many contributions to psychology. For one. It has helped to extend the range of human experiences.

There have also been contributions regarding conventional explanations of various phenomena. “Certain influential psychological explanations of OBEs have been developed in the context of parapsychology, notably by Blackmore . . . Irwin . . . and Palmer . . ., contributing to the orthodox view of mind’s potential to generate hallucinatory experiences.”

Another area of contributions has been that of clinical issues. This includes ESP phenomena in the context of psychotherapy, and the difficult issue of differential diagnosis. Some work has been conducted in relation to trauma and schizotypy, but this area is in need of more detailed empirical explorations.

The study of psychic phenomena has also contributed to the concept of personal transformation, as seen in worth conducted with near-death experiences. The same may be said about human potential: “To accept some of the phenomena of parapsychology would have clear implications for human potential, greatly expanding our ideas about our capabilities. ESP implies that we can perceive future events, information hidden at a distance, and the thoughts or intentions of a distant person. Furthermore, to accept that such phenomena have no conventional explanation carries conceptual implications about the nature of consciousness.”

The latter brings us to the issue of nonphysicality. Traditionally ESP and other phenomena have been interpreted by many as evidence of the independence of the mind on the physical body. An acceptance of such conclusion, and this is still debatable, would have great implications about the nature of human beings.

Psychology cliparts

“Work on near-death experiences, reincarnation cases, mediumship and related topics has tended to promote ideas of transcendence . . . It should be pointed out that parapsychology embraces diverse views, and the ideas summarized here are not necessarily all shared by its practitioners . . . But they have in common a tendency towards the view that mind is more than the physical body – a classic problem of psychology.”

For bibliography click here, here, and here.

 

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

Journals

The journals related to psychical research are particularly important and should be studied with care. Unfortunately most of them are not indexed in modern databases for the period emphasized in my comments (19th century to 1930s). Some important journals are: Journal of Parapsychology,  Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Annales des Sciences Psychiques, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, Luce e Ombra, Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Psychic Science, Psychische Studien, Revue Métapsychique, Rivista di Studi Psichici, and  Zeitschrift fur Parapsychologie.

Annales des Sciences Psychiques 1891
Journal of the SPR 1885-1886

image of page 675
Zeirschrift fur Parapsychologie 
 Many other journals also have valuable and interesting information about topics such as apparitions and mediumship. This is the case of: Banner of Light, Light, Religio-Philosophical Journal, Revue Spirite, Spiritual Magazine, and The Spiritualist (title changed). Some of the journals mentioned in this section are available at the website of the International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals.

image of page 1

Religio Philosophical Journal February 15 1879 Front Page

Revue Spirite 1858 2

Classics

There are also many classic works that are highly recommended. I have included in this section a few examples of major classics, and some minor ones. One example of a major classic in the sense of being highly influential, is William Crookes’ (1874) Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism (London: J. Burns). Here Crookes reported experiments conducted with medium D.D. Home, and his famous observations of materialization phenomena by Florence Cook. The book is also instructive regarding how Crookes was criticized, and how he defended himself, showing similarities to more recent controversies.

Crookes Researches cover

Other works include:

Gurney, E., Myers, F.W.H., & Podmore, F. (1886). Phantasms of the Living (2 vols.). London: Trübner.

Aksakov, A. (1890). Animismus und spiritismus [Animism and spiritism]. Leipzig: Oswald Mutze.

Flournoy, T. (1900). From India to the Planet Mars: A Study of a Case of Somnambulism. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Flournoy From India 2

Myers, F. W. H. (1903). Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (2 vols.). London: Longmans, Green.

Morselli, E. (1908). Psicologia e “Spiritismo:” Impressioni e Note Critiche sui Fenomeni Medianici di Eusapia Paladino [Psychology and “Spiritism:” Impressions and Critical Notes About the Mediumistic Phenomena of Eusapia Paladino] (2 vols.). Turin: Fratelli Bocca.

Geley, G. (1920). From the Unconscious to the Conscious. Glasgow: William Collins. (First published in French in 1919)

Geley From the Unconscious

Schrenck-Notzing, A. von (1920) Phenomena of Materialisation. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, & Trübner.

Warcollier, R. (1921). La Télépathie: Recherches Expérimentales. Paris: Félix Alcan.

Osty, E. (1923). Supernormal Faculties in Man: An Experimental Study. London: Methuen.

Osty Supernormal

Geley, G, (1927). Clairvoyance and Materialisation: A Record of Experiments. London: T. Fisher Unwin.

Rhine, J. B. (1934). Extra-Sensory Perception. Boston: Boston Society for Psychic Research. 

Pratt, J. G., Rhine, J. B., Smith, B. F., Stuart, C. E., & Greenwood, J. (1940). Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years. New York: Henry Holt.

Pratt ESP 60 Title Page 

*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

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

 

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

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

An interesting article has been published in a psychiatry journal about topics related to this blog. Its title is: “Research on Experiences Related to the Possibility of Consciousness Beyond the Brain: A Bibliometric Analysis of Global Scientific Output,” by Jorge Cecílio Daher, Rodolfo Furlan Damiano, Alessandra Lamas Granero Lucchetti, Alexander Moreira-Almeida, and Giancarlo Lucchetti (Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 2017, 205, 37-47).

Jorge Daher

Jorge Cecílio Daher

Abstract

“This study aims to conduct a search of publications investigating experiences commonly associated with the possibility of the existence of a consciousness independent of the brain held on the main scientific databases (Pubmed, Web of Knowledge, PsycINFO, Science Direct, and Scopus). Of the 9065 articles retrieved, 1954 were included (598 near-death experiences, 223 out-of-body experiences, 56 end-of-life experiences, 224 possession, 244 memories suggestive of past lives, 565 mediumship, 44 others). Over the decades, there was an evident increase in the number of articles on all the areas of the field, with the exception of studies on mediumship that showed a decline during the late 20th century and subsequent rise in the early 21st century. Regarding the types of articles found, with the exception of past-life memories and end-of-life experiences (mostly original studies), publications were predominantly review articles. The articles were published in journals with an impact factor similar to other areas of science.”

In the discussion the authors state:

“Each area was discussed separately to promote a better understanding of each area of the field and its respective gaps. The NDE area yielded the most specific articles and, in absolute terms, had the largest number of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. This area of the field, although recent, had greater scientific consolidation an more prospective studies, largely promoted by studies related to cardiology and intensive medicine and strong media interest . . .”

“The OBE area had articles in common with the NDE area, being a potential component of NDE, but was also studied as a spontaneous occurrence . . . Given the numerous studies in different areas, it can be concluded that this area of the field has a reasonable number of studies whose objective was not the assessment of the possibility of autonomy of consciousness in relation to the brain.”

“The possession area includes a large number of investigative articles of mental disorders and many eminently descriptive anthropological investigations. These studies, although investigating associated experiences, often do not investigate the issue of survival of the consciousness per se . . .”

“Regarding the mediumship area, we found a large number of case reports with mediums, analyzing a range of different manifestations such as the truthfulness of information or neurophysiological aspects . . . After the 2000s, investigations into mediums adopted more rigorous methodological criteria, with results that have yet to be fully accepted.”

“The reincarnation (past-life memories) area was associated with a substantial number of cross-sectional studies. This area is characterized predominantly by results obtained from reports by study participants and analysis of their truthfulness . . . There is also an extensive debate on whether these cases can be explained by fantasy, false memories, and hypnosis . . .”

“The ELEs [end-of-life experiences] area, although a relatively recent with fewer articles, showed greater growth in the past decade. This rise was likely attributed to the increase in studies on palliative care and spirituality . . . “

 

 

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

Dr. David Luke, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich has just published a book about psychedelics and exceptional experiences: Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience (London: Muswell Hill Press, 2017).

Luke Otherworlds

More information about David can be found in an interview that appeared in this blog.

David Luke

David Luke

Interview

Can you give us a brief summary of the book?

The book is a collection of papers researching the use of psychedelics and exceptional human experiences, with a particular focus on parapsychological experiences but including syanaesthesia, extra-dimensional percepts, inter-species communication, eco-consciousness, mediumship, sleep paralysis, possession, entity encounters, near-death and out-of-body experiences, psi, alien abduction experiences and, well, even a little bit of lycanthropy.

The chapters range from comprehensive literature and research reviews of specific topics, such as psi research with psychedelics, through essays exploring topics like possession and psychedelics, to more speculative and personal explorations, such as entity encounter experiences with the naturally occurring endogenous dimethyltryptamine (DMT).

Given the nascent nature of this field of enquiry this book takes a multidisciplinary approach to build a coherent picture and spans several disciplines, sourcing material from psychology, psychiatry, parapsychology, anthropology, paranthropology, neuroscience, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, biochemistry, religious studies and cultural history. A good amount of my own data can also be found within.

What is your background in parapsychology, and with the topic of the book specifically?

My career has been strongly rooted in parapsychology but has broadened over the years into a multidisciplinary exploration of exceptional human experiences and altered states of consciousness, with a particular focus on psychedelics, although I have also researched dreams, meditation, mediumistic states, darkness, yoga, shamanic practices, floatation tanks and other altered states.

I did my PhD on luck and psi among other parapsychology researchers at the University of Northampton when it was probably the leading academic institution in the world for such research, and have continued doing parapsychology research for the last 17 years. My main experimental subject throughout has been precognition, and I have conducted numerous studies testing this under different controlled conditions, but I have also conducted numerous surveys, case studies, dabbled in anthropology and ethnography and even ran a clinical drug trial with LSD partially exploring experimental psi. My work has also been greatly informed by field research and travels around the world exploring mediumship, shamanism and mystical practices from India to Ecuador.

What motivated you to write this book?

My main motivation to write this book was to bring together the various strands of my research into exceptional experiences with psychedelics, given that there is currently no coherent thrust within the academy, either from within parapsychology or elsewhere, to explore this rich subject. There are currently something like 32 million people in the US alone that have used psychedelics, and probably half of those or more have had at least one exceptional experience under the influence, so the topic of this book covers a genuine lacuna in the academic literature that deserves serious attention.

Why do you think your book is important and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

Given the lack of coordinated research programmes on this broad subject this book is probably the first of its kind to specifically explore psychedelically-induced exceptional experiences, including those of a parapsychological nature. I optimistically hope that having a text dedicated to this subject matter will give other researchers a useful resource and a clear platform from which to systematically explore these colourful experiences. Ultimately, I hope that this book will provide the starting point to examine the exotic and yet relatively common experiences that occur with these substances now that the revival of serious psychedelic research has finally begun after a 50-year hiatus. I also think that even non-researchers, such as the interested psychonaut or the parapsychology enthusiast will find much of interest in this book too.