The 56th Parapsychological Association Convention has been announced. Fancy a trip to Viterbo, Italy?
The 56th Parapsychological Association Convention has been announced. Fancy a trip to Viterbo, Italy?
Somehow The Hidden Whisper is four years old, which must mean I am also four years older and wiser… hmmm…
Anyhoo - I’ve decided to drop the Kindle price to 99 cents permanently. I hope you enjoy the read!
A little off topic I know - but I thought I’d share an article on Cancer Research.
It’s a long article, BTW, but fascinating.
Stephan Schmidt has recently published a meta-analysis of distant intention research studies:
“Can We Help Just by Good Intentions? A Meta-Analysis of Experiments on Distant Intention Effects.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2012, 18, 529-533.
Carlos Alvarado has put up the abstract details on his blog:
Researchers from the University of Granada’s Department of Experimental Psychology have just published research in the journal Consciousness and Cognition adding credence to the idea that synaesthesia might explain some instances of people ‘seeing auras’.
There’s a link to Science Daily here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120504110024.htm
In ‘light’ of this new research, it’s time to delve into the hidden recesses of
The Hidden Whisper and dig out endnote 62.
62. Synaesthesia and Auras.
Psychics often report that they can see auras around their clients - coloured zones that sometimes get represented as a form of psychic energy. Recent research (Ward, 2004) has suggested that seeing auras might be attributed, under some circumstances, to a form of synaesthesia - an uncommon neurological condition where individuals involuntarily experience sensations in non-related modalities. For example, in what’s known as lexical-gustatory synaesthesia, a person might hear a certain word (e.g. purple) which then evokes the sensation of a particular taste (e.g. the percipient then tastes vanilla). To all intents and purposes, the taste is as real as if they ate the food itself. It’s worth pointing out that with this form of synaesthesia, the words do not have to link semantically (although they can), i.e. people do not necessarily have a taste experience that is citrus or sweet when they hear the word orange.
With aura reading, it has been suggested that a visual experience is fired, in relation to the emotion the reader is feeling at the time. If the reader looks at an individual and feels warm and happy, they might see a pink colour around the head/body of the client. If they feel uncomfortable with the client, the colour may be brown or blue (colours are personal and do not apply uniformly). It should be highlighted that any one theory is rarely able to explain all cases of a particular phenomenon.
ps - for those who are interested, I have posted on Kirlian Photography before:
Can you help further paranormal research, and participate in an online survey of Psychic Experiences?
Researchers, led by Dr Christine Simmonds-Moore, are interested in learning more about a variety of human experiences, some of which are unusual, but which are by no means uncommon in the general population.
As Christine and the team explains: “We are undertaking an online survey to explore individual differences, synesthesia (the tendency for some people to experience two senses together, e.g., colored words or numbers; tasting shapes; spatially organized calendars, etc.), and a variety of anomalous experiences (for example, extrasensory perception).”
The team would very much appreciate it if you would take the time to complete this online questionnaire, even if you have never experienced the things described in the questionnaire. The survey should take about 20 minutes.
The link to the survey is here: Psychic Experiences
There is lots more information about the study on the survey pages.
Okay, I’ll admit it ;) I’ve always had a soft spot for Ghostbusters - although I’ve never come across the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, or Gozer the Gozerian, in real life. On Friday, I was walking through Central London and saw these scale models of “Ecto 1”, the 1959 Cadillac ambulance that starred in the film.
At £160 though for the big one though - nostalgic warmth comes at a price!
A YouGov survey has estimated that 1-in-40 UK adults received an eBook Reader last Christmas. And 92% of those are thought to have been Kindles.
Time for a promo on The Hidden Whisper ;)
Until the end of January, the ebook will be : $2.99, £1.92, E2.60. Hurrah!
Neutrinos still FASTER THAN LIGHT in second test.
Am really enjoying seeing where this goes :)
Update: And there you have it.
It has been 40 years since one of the most (in)famous experiments in psychology took place - Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. What took place has become required reading on just about every human behaviour module on every Psychology course.
The premise was simple: take a group of people, divide them into Prisoners and Wardens and see what happens. Scheduled to last for 2 weeks, the experiment was cut short after just 6 days…
The BBC has put a good ‘looking back’ write-up to the experiment here
It’s that time of year when I update the article index. I hope it’s useful for navigating the site. I’ve also added some Twitter and Fbook buttons to the blog, I’ll use them to help work out what sort of content people would like to see.Articles I
Dr David Luke is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Greenwich (London) in the Department of Psychology and Counselling. He currently teaches the Psychology of Exceptional Human Experience, Individual Differences and Abnormal Psychology, and Research Methods. He is the current President of the Parapsychological Association
An oldie but a goodie to start with. What first got you interested in parapsychology?
It was a combination of a few factors. As a truanting schoolboy I would loiter in second-hand book shops and give myself a more self-directed education, reading anything left field in science I could get my hands on. A whole stack of copies of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research appeared on the shelf one day for 10 pence each and I bought the lot. Somewhat perplexed by the dense language I was nevertheless utterly fascinated with the subject matter.
I later joined the Society before heading off to university. My interest in altered states of consciousness went back even further and grew right from the moment I could spin round until I went dizzy. I experimented widely with all sorts of altered states and gradually realised I had a deep calling for them beyond mere hedonism. I decided to study psychology to make sense of my extraordinary experiences in these states and headed off to university for a degree, but finished that feeling somewhat disappointed with the sheer limitation of the answers that emerged from mainstream science. I travelled across Mexico for 18 months, discovered shamanism, explored plant entheogens, and finally figured that a doctorate in parapsychology was the closest branch of academia to where I would find my answers. I returned to study and this was certainly a very good start.
You are currently the President of the Parapsychological Association; what is the PA, and what does it represent?
The PA website sums this up excellently, so I’ll borrow heavily from there. The Parapsychological Association is the international professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of ‘psi’ (or ‘psychic’) experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, remote viewing, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition. Such experiences seem to challenge contemporary conceptions of human nature and of the physical world. They appear to involve the transfer of information and the influence of physical systems independently of time and space, via mechanisms we cannot currently explain. The primary objective of the Parapsychological Association is to achieve a scientific understanding of these experiences.
In view of this, PA members develop and refine methodologies for studying psi and its physical, biological or psychological underpinnings. They assess hypotheses and theories through experiments, conceptual models and field investigations, and seek to integrate their findings with other scientific domains. PA members also explore the meaning and impact of psychic experiences in human society, and assess the possibility of practical applications and technologies.
While covering a wide range of perspectives, the PA, as a whole, is committed to: Promoting scholarship and scientific inquiry into currently unexplained aspects of human experience; disseminating responsible information to the wider public and to the scientific community; and integrating this information with knowledge from other disciplines.
The PA was first established in 1957, and has been an affiliated organization of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) since 1969. As of the year 2002, there are approximately 300 PA members from all over the world.
You list ‘experimental and field parapsychology from a multidisciplinary perspective’ as one of your research interests. Can you expand upon this ‘multidisciplinary’ style a little?
Well I have a background in psychology, but my fascination with plant shamanism has led me into exploring anthropology, ethnobotany, phytochemistry, neurobiology and, more generally, consciousness and transpersonal studies. In practice, my research extends only as far as field parapsychology experiments informed by ethnography and with the aim of shedding some light on the neurobiology of psi. This largely amounts to some preliminary psi experiments with people under the influence of psychedelic jungle decoctions and mountain brews. I think it’s important, for me at least, to take psi research back to its natural sources.
Shamanism is probably the oldest magico-religious practice known to man and has seemingly been used for millenia for accessing psi-conducive states. Many of those states involve plant psychedelics, and it is the study of the use of these within a parapsychological context that can likely tell us the most about the neurobiology of psi. Simultaneously, there is a personal dimension to my research and as much as I study these things for advancing the field I follow this trajectory to expand my own personal wisdom and knowledge too. And of course both of these endeavours feed into each other, you just have to be prepared to be transformed in the process of doing this kind of research.
So not only is this research multidisciplinary, it is also multimethodological, as it is both empirical and experiential, and in the latter mode it is also polyphasic too, to borrow a term from Charles Laughlin, in that it incorporates many states of being. I’m also a fan of the other Charles too, Tart, and his state specific sciences. We haven’t even begun to understand the world scientifically yet from a non-pragmacentric view – that is from within other states of consciousness – although the indigenous shamans of traditional cultures have been doing so for thousands of years, so we would be wise to study them, and from every possible direction. You can’t just put them under a microscope though, the early anthropologists tried that and eventually realised how blinkered they had been until they embraced participant-observation. So my approach is more mutidimensional than just multidisciplinary.
You have ‘hit the road’ previously and travelled widely to investigate healing in different cultures and from different perspectives – what have been some of your headline findings?
My field research has so far been key in indicating how difficult and demanding this kind of research is. I would have been wise to have noted from my colleague and teacher Dr Serena Roney-Dougal just how slow and arduous this kind of research is, after the six long years it took her to complete two studies in India, while living in various ashrams and monasteries. Nevertheless, this research direction is also the most rewarding, personally at least.
So while I have been less than successful in some of my field psi research, some of it has paid off, and more than that, I have had the benefit of having had innumerable anomalous experiences upon which to draw upon and ponder in my quest for some kind of ontological truth. It’s good to remember this too when you find yourself cueing up to have your eyeball scraped with a kitchen knife and have a pair of forceps shoved all the way up your nose, or when psychedelically purging yesterday’s breakfast in an unbearably hot sweatlodge whilst being whipped with nettles under the weight of a transpersonal dark night of the soul. I guess my headline findings are yet to come, if they are to be found, meanwhile they read more like a travel section feature on how to end up in strange places doing even stranger things.
I would say, though, that we still have some enormous questions yet to ask as scientists, let alone begin to answer, and that these primarily relate to the area occupied at the edge of the study of parapsychology and altered states of consciousness. Indeed, here be dragons, because currently we Westerners are the medieval cartographers in a land populated by pygmies with GPS. I think in this territory it pays to acknowledge one’s ignorance instead of bragging about how obviously clever we are just because we’ve read a few books. Science is an excellent tool kit, but I think we have to be prepared to jump over the fence at the edge of our field of expertise and be prepared to get our feet wet,… or even not to land at all - Excelsior!
Thank you very much David
There’s a good looking conference coming this autumn!
The Best in Parapsychology: From our Minds to Yours
Virginia Beach. Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E., 215 67th Street, Virginia Beach, VA, 23451, USA
October 14-16, 2011
$395 (or $375 if you are a student with student i.d.).
There is early bird registration ($325) until August 15th
What’s it all about?
(From the Atlantic website)
“This October, at the Parapsychology and Consciousness conference, we are bringing together some of the best minds in both fields, many of whom are at the forefront of research. These dedicated men and women are seeking the answers we need. Some study the relationship of psychic experiences to psychological well-being. Others focus on the intersection of psychic phenomena and modern physics. All are working to get an unbiased understanding of what we know out to the people who need it the most. Our speakers think deeply about the scientific underpinnings of psychic functioning and about what these phenomena say about interconnectedness, entanglement and the meaning of life.”
Who is speaking?
They have a cracking roster of speakers including, but not limited to:
Link to Atlantic University
The Star Gate Project was a US government research program (funded by the Defense Intelligence Agency, and subsequently transferred to the CIA) that sought to investigate the effectiveness of Remote Viewing.
Remote Viewing is the purported ability to gather information on places (that one has not seen before) ‘from a distance’. In other words, the descriptional information is obtained through psychic functioning. Why would the military be interested in this? Well, it would be good to know what is hidden inside that Chinese aircraft hangar.
The Stargate movie and television franchise, where a Stargate device creates wormholes in space and time enabling Kurt Russell, James Spader,
McGyver Richard Dean Anderson and others to explore the universe, is not related.
The Star Gate Project was initiated in the 1970s and used more than 20 remote viewers to view distant locations. There were reported to be some intriguing successes, including the viewing and detailed description of an as-yet-unknown Russian submarine which spy satellites subsequently confirmed some months later (it was the Typhoon Class submarine for cold war history fans out there).
In the 1990s, a review of the programme was commissioned from the American Institutes (sic) for Research. It was published in 1994, and I’ll draw out some of the main conclusions:
When looking at forced choice laboratory research, the authors concluded that: “A statistically significant laboratory effort has been demonstrated in the sense that hits occur more often than chance.”
However, the root cause of these effects was unclear (paranormal functioning versus experimental/methodological effects, etc), and they went on to write: “Evidence has not been provided that clearly demonstrates that the causes of hits are due to the operation of paranormal phenomena; the laboratory experiments have not identified the origins or nature of the remote viewing phenomenon, if, indeed, it exists at all.”
In turn, operational effectiveness was discussed (after all the Star Gate project was meant to enrich military intelligence gathering): “The conditions under which the remote viewing phenomenon is observed in laboratory settings do not apply in intelligence gathering situations… although some accuracy was observed with regard to broad background characteristics, the remote viewing reports failed to produce the concrete, specific information valued in intelligence gathering. …The information provided was inconsistent, inaccurate with regard to specifics, and required substantial subjective interpretation.”
“The foregoing observations provide a compelling argument against continuation of the program within the intelligence community. Even though a statistically significant effect has been observed in the laboratory, it remains unclear whether the existence of a paranormal phenomenon, remote viewing, has been demonstrated. The laboratory studies do not provide evidence regarding the origins or nature of the phenomenon, assuming it exists, nor do they address an important methodological issue of inter-judge reliability.
Further, even if it could be demonstrated unequivocally that a paranormal phenomenon occurs under the conditions present in the laboratory paradigm, these conditions have limited applicability and utility for intelligence gathering operations. For example, the nature of the remote viewing targets are vastly dissimilar, as are the specific tasks required of the remote viewers. Most importantly, the information provided by remote viewing is vague and ambiguous, making it difficult, if not impossible, for the technique to yield information of sufficient quality and accuracy of information for actionable intelligence. Thus, we conclude that continued use of remote viewing in intelligence gathering operations is not warranted.”
The report actually came out after the CIA had terminated the programme, explaining that there was a lack of evidence the programme provided value to intelligence gathering.
So what do we make of all this? Well, the findings in favour of laboratory RV effects (albeit laced with caveats) lends credence to the idea that some form of paranormal functioning might be going on under particular remote viewing protocols. In turn, the lack of overall support for operational RV functioning suggests that remote viewing is not valid, or, that if it does work - it might only work within certain confines or under certain conditions. The history of Star Gate helps demonstrate how there are no definitive experiments in parapsychology - instead, it is about accumulating a body of data, taking proper stock, and then moving ideas, protocols and understanding forwards. It’s all about cumulative, circumstantial evidence.
You can read the full AIR report here: http://www.lfr.org/lfr/csl/library/AirReport.pdf
A great blog post from MobyLives about the Amazon reviews for:
How To Avoid Huge Ships
Thank you to the emailer who sent in this joke:
(Q) What do you call a possessed chicken?
(A) A poultry-geist
I then found out, there’s even a movie called Poultrygeist.
From 2008. Anybody seen it?
I notice the top of the three disc boxset has some eggs-cellent punnery.
The Rhine Education Center has announced that it is running an online parapsychology course - starting at the end of the month.
It’s billed as: “…an academic course designed to provide professional education in the field of parapsychology”, lasts 10 weeks (Wednesday evenings), and is $240 per person ($195 if you are enrolled in a degree programme).
Full details here: Rhine