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International Journal of Parapsychology, Volume XII, Number 1, 2001
Krippner, Stanley (2001). Psi and postmodernity in the twenty-first century. International Journal of Parapsychology, 12 (1), 1-30. Many philosophers of science argue that humanity has entered the age of “postmodernity.” Some of them ascribe to perspectives that can be referred to as “postmodernism.” There are implications for psi research in these developments, especially when parapsychology’s contributions toward introducing divergent theory and research methods are considered. For example, local narrative and metanarrative are inherently symbolic and can be deconstructed and reconstructed into new forms. In constrast, exponents of “modern science” continue to search for veracity and absolutes. Perhaps this stance is what leads to the prejudicial actions of mainstream scientists as they realize that psi research data can deconstruct their scientistic ideals which in turn reject the marginal narratives and ambiguous data that characterize parapsychology. As a result, psi researchers need to enter into discourse and alliances with other fields. In the long view, psi research data may lead to a simpler, more elegant, and parsimonious worldview in the postmodern age.
Gissurarson, Loftur Reimar, & Haraldsson, Erlendur (2001). History of parapsychology in Iceland. International Journal of Parapsychology, 12 (1), 31-52.
In Iceland parapsychological research began in 1905 with investigations of the physical medium Indridi Indridason. Extensive contemporary reports exist on this research, some of which appeared in international journals and was presented at the first two international congresses on psychical research held in 1921 and 1923. During an extended period of controlled sessions, particularly those conducted by Hannesson, the investigators reported observing movements and levitations of furniture and the medium himself, loud raps, various odor- and light-phenomena, remote playing of musical instruments, direct voices, and strong breezes. Other investigations included one on clairvoyant dreams conducted on behalf of the Society of Psychical Research (London) by Bjarnason in which the phenomena reported around “Dreaming Joe” was investigated. Other mediumship studies were conducted, including those with Danish medium Einar Nielsen. Two poltergeists cases have also been investigated, one in the early part of the last century, and the other in the 1960s. Recent research has largely been conducted by the authors and has focused on a variety of topics including death-bed visions, national and international levels of belief in psychic phenomena, experimental work testing the relationship of perceptual defensiveness to ESP, and the psychological characteristics of children who remember previous lives.
Felser, Joseph M. (2001). Philosophical sensitives and sensitive philosophers: Gazing into the future of parapsychology. International Journal of Parapsychology, 12 (1), 53-81.
This paper argues that parapsychology is suffering from an acute epistemological crisis, uncertain of its identity and future progress. The early hope of parapsychology, that the adoption of a strictly experimental approach would bring the kind of acceptance mainstream science has denied to psychical research, has proved elusive. In the absence of a scientifically acceptable theory of psi, some researchers have argued that parapsychology should look to traditional religions or postmodernist theory for interpretive models and intellectual acceptance. This paper argues that parapsychology ought rather to insist upon its epistemological autonomy and refuse to subordinate itself to pre-modern religion, modern science, or postmodern philosophy. Thus parapsychology might facilitate the creation of a new, more inclusive form of consciousness in which second-order theoretical reflection is openly and explicitly informed and guided by first-order psi experience. This possibility has been foreshadowed by the dramatic appearance in history of evolutionary mutants — the “sensitive philosophers” and “philosophical sensitives” discussed here.
Braude, Stephen E. (2001). Out-of-body experiences and survival of death. International Journal of Parapsychology, 12 (1), 83-129.
Some people believe that out-of-body experiences (OBEs) provide at least indirect support for the survival hypothesis. They claim that OBEs show that the self, personality, or mind can operate apart from the body, which in turn shows that a human being is not merely a physical system. In that case (so the argument goes), we have a good reason to believe in survival of bodily death. This paper examines that line of reasoning in detail and argues that the OBE Argument is confused on a variety of important issues. The paper also considers, and rejects, the alleged relevance of apparitions (especially reciprocal apparitions) and of near-death experiences. The author concludes that non-survivalist explanatory strategies are generally more compelling, especially those which appeal to phenomena, including ESP, whose existence and features have already been established.
Martínez-Taboas, Alfonso (2001). Dissociative experiences and disorders: A review. International Journal of Parapsychology, 12 (1), 131-162.
In this article the author presents an overview of recent research trends in the field of dissociation. In the last two decades considerable progress has been made in the evaluation, detection, and measurement of dissociative capacities. It has become clear that dissociation, as a psychological construct, should not only be studied in clinical cases but also among normal populations. In fact, the study of nonpathological forms of dissociation can elucidate the mechanisms of some purported paranormal phenomena, such as out-of-body experiences or mediumistic trance states. The author also briefly discusses some current controversies in dissociation, such as the iatrogenesis argument and the creation of false memories. Finally, it is argued that parapsychologists should familiarize themselves with the field of dissociation in order to enrich their understanding of the concepts of, and possible mechanisms for, a wide variety of ostensible paranormal phenomena.
Cornell, A. D. (2001). Mental and physical mediumship. International Journal of Parapsychology, 12 (1), 163-179.
The author discusses mental and physical mediumship and his own early experiences in the seance room. Several incidents with mental mediums led the author to believe that verifiable information received most likely proceeds from telepathic contact between the medium and the sitter. The author then focuses on the “G. Circle,” a private home circle with which he sat in the mid-1950s. Earlier investigations made with the same circle by psychical research and skeptic Eric J. Dingwall are also described. In the discussion of his own sittings, the author focuses especially on the table-tilting phenomena he witnessed. He notes that he, like Dingwall before him, was ultimately disinvited form the group for conducting an experiment to determine whether the table was being raised fraudulently — something he did not suspect but nevertheless wished to rule out. Although the experiment seemed to indicate that the table-tilting may well have been paranormal, the author remains neutral on the question of whether the medium and the sitters or the purported spirit controls produced the phenomena experienced.
International Journal of Parapsychology, Volume XI, Number 2, 2000
Thalbourne, Michael A. (2000). Transliminality: A review. International Journal of Parapsychology 11, (2), 1-34.
The concept of transliminality had its origin as the adjective “trans-liminal” and in related terms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the work of William James, F. W. H. Myers, and F. Usher and F. Burt. It later received elaboration at the hands of Harold Rugg and Donald MacKinnon. The author, in the early 1990s, gave the concept the name “transliminality,” that is, the tendency for psychological material to cross thresholds into or out of consciousness from the subliminal, the supraliminal, and the outside world. Many correlates of this variable have been discovered by the author and his colleagues, especially belief in and experience of the paranormal and the anomalous, as well as psi itself. Transliminality also correlates with psychopathology, and it is hypothesized that high transliminality can lead to psychosis, although “happy high transliminals” do seem to exist. The purpose of this review article has been to describe the concept of transliminality, its origins and antecedents, the evolving ideas about its nature and constituents, its measurement by questionnaire, and the uses to which it has been (and can be) put, as well as the handful of criticisms to which it has thus far been subjected.
Kokubo, Hideyuki, & Kasahara, Tosio (2000). Japaneses studies on anomalous phenomena in the 1990s. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11 (2), 35-61.
In Japan, scientific studies dealing with anomalous phenomena are being actively pursued following a rise, nation-wide, in interest in supernatural phenomena including qigong, the phenomena attributable to the Indian swami Sathya Sai Baba, and near-death experiences. Research into these topics has been done primarily by orthodox scientists who were expanding their professional territories to include even the parapsychological domain. Research bearing on parapsychology conducted in the 1990s is summarized under the headings of case studies, cognitive, social-scientific, and theoretical research, experiments with human, subhuman, and cellular targets, and physical/chemical studies. Remarkable contributions have been made by qigong researchers who have only been working in this area for a decade. Especially interesting results have been obtained in experiments on external qi, or what we might call bio-PK. However, the fundamentals necessary for a productive research program are still not sufficiently established in Japan, and unless shortcomings are addressed, future research developments will be hindered.
Stevens, Paul (2000). Noise, physics, and psi: New ideas for research. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11 (2), 63-77.
Although not generally recognized, most target systems in psi experiments have some random element (e.g., electronic noise or biological cell-gating). With this in mind, this paper describes ideas and techniques concerning the phenomenon of stochastic resonance, wherein a noisy system is driven by an external signal that should be too weak to effect it. In a typical psi experiment, information can only be gained by observing the target systems output as a time series of events. This output is assumed to relate to a psi mechanism plus noise sources, so analysis looks for patterns that are hidden by the noise. However, with stochastic resonance, a system becomes a more sensitive detector as noise increases, up to an optimal, non-zero level. This could suggest an alternative way of conceptualizing psi studies: rather than trying to remove it, the noise becomes a variable that actively contributes to the output characteristics.
Irwin, Harvey J. (2000). The luck of the paranormal believer. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11 (2), 79-95.
This study investigated associations between paranormal beliefs and the perceived role of luck in a person’s life. A sample of 174 Australian adults participated in a mail survey of paranormal beliefs, belief in good luck, and haplessness. Canonical correlation analysis identified two pairs of canonical variates. The first pair indicated a relationship between a global belief in luck and belief in nonreligious or New Age concepts, particularly precognition. The second pair of variates indicated that endorsement of belief in extraordinary life forms and superstitions might often be found in people, particularly men, with a conviction that they are victims of bad luck. In broad terms the association between paranormal beliefs and belief in luck can be accommodated by the major theories of paranormal belief. At the same time these theories do not anticipate the observation that the set of paranormal beliefs associated with a global belief in luck differs somewhat from that associated with haplessness. The study’s findings suggest that theories of the functions of paranormal belief need to discriminate among paranormal beliefs to a greater extent than they presently do.
Sherwood, Simon J. (2000). A comparison of the features of psychomanteum and hypnagogic/hypnopompic experiences. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11 (2), 97-121.
Many participants who enter a psychomanteum chamber report reunions with deceased loved ones, ranging from a sense of presence to vivid and realistic visual encounters. Some reunions happen later when the participant is in the hypnagogic or hypnopompic state. There are strong similarities between psychomanteum and hypnagogic/hypnopompic imagery in terms of the circumstances in which the experiences occur and the content and progression of the associated imagery. One difference between psychomanteum and hypnagogic/hypnopompic imagery is that, in the former case, the participant presumably has his or her eyes open. Psychomanteum experiences do not tend to feature non-verbal auditory imagery but seem to be more interactive, more emotional, and to have more of an impact; verbal or mental communication also tends to be more coherent. Apart from paranormal explanations, one possible normal explanation for psychomanteum apparitional experiences is that they involve hypnagogic-like imagery whose content may be influenced by the participants’ needs, motivations, and expectations.
Levin, Michael (2000). What is the fundamental nature of consciousness? On the contribution of parapsychology to consciousness research. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11 (2), 123-141.
The nature of consciousness is fundamental to the philosophy of mind and cognitive science. However, the “difficult problem” — the issue of how first-person experience, and the raw feel of awareness can accompany the physical processes of neurobiology — remains intractable. A crucial aspect of this problem in the philosophy of mind is the question of ontology. Does mind or consciousness exist as a real feature of the world? Between materialism and dualism, which (if either) of these basic theories is true is an issue that is crucial to the way we understand normal and pathological human cognition, and the nature of the psyche. The data of parapsychology has direct relevance to these and other issues in cognitive science. Besides promising approaches to the “other minds” problem, and possible applications to the evolutionary origins of consciousness, the greatest contribution of parapsychology consists in what it has to say about materialism vs. dualism. Some of the implications of parapsychological research are very telling against the sufficiency of materialism as a framework within which to explain consciousness. The paper concludes with major problems which parapsychology must address to flesh out its contribution to ontology.
Nichols, Andrew (2000). A water poltergeist in Florida. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11 (2), 143-159.
Poltergeist-type occurrences were reported in a private residence in Florida from November 1996 to January 1997. In addition to movement of objects and other typical RSPK manifestations, unexplained appearance of water was described. The family believed the house to be “haunted.” Several techniques were employed to investigate the phenomena. The premises were tested with a magnetometer and non-contact thermometer. The location was photographed and psychological examinations were administered to three primary witnesses. Correlations between geomagnetic/electromagnetic activity and the alleged paranormal events were studied. Psychological tests indicated that one of the witnesses conformed to the profile of a “poltergeist personality,” an adolescent with a low tolerance for frustration, repressing feelings of aggression and hostility. Neuropsychological questionnaires suggested temporal lobe lability in two of the witnesses, including the apparent poltergeist agent. Magnetic field strengths at several locations where unexplained phenomena had been reported differed significantly from magnetic field strengths in locations where no unusual phenomena had been reported.
International Journal of Parapsychology, Volume XI, Number 1, 2000
Tart, Charles T. (2000). Investigating altered states of consciousness on their own terms: A proposal for the creation of state-specific sciences. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11 (1), 7-41.
Because various phenomena of consciousness have powerful effects on science, personal life, values, and culture, they must be studied in their own right, especially the effects of altered states of consciousness (ASCs). After separating the methods of essential science from the more particularized methods of paradigmatic fields, often confused with science per se, I propose that the methods of essential science (observation, theorizing, prediction, communication/consensual validation) can be applied from within various ASCs. This can be done using the state-specific perceptions and logics of these states to form a variety of state-specific, complementary sciences which will expand our understanding of both consciousness and world. Problems with, and prospects for, the development of such state-specific sciences (SSSs) are discussed.
Taylor, Robin (2000). Conducting parapsychological research in different ethnic cultures: Prospects, problems and solutions in Fiji. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11 (1), 43-67.
This paper demonstrated some of the prospects, problems, and potential solutions which parapsychologists encounter when attempting to work outside of their normal ethnic culture. Parapsychological research in Fiji was used as an example. Parapsychological “prospects” of working particularly outside the ethnic cultures of Europe or North America were explored. The second part of the paper highlighted some of the problems of attempting to conduct parapsychological research in different ethnic cultures. A model of behavior called the “ecocultural model” was presented, which can help researchers to better frame our understanding of parapsychological phenomena outside of the Western ethnic culture. Finally, possible solutions were offered which can maximize the potential benefit of conducting such research by overcoming some of the problems mentioned.
Brown, Suzanne V. (2000). The exceptional human experience process: A preliminary model with exploratory map. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11 (1), 69-111.
The Exceptional Human Experience (EHE) process is a unique, dynamic, progressive, reiterative, evolving pattern of human consciousness development initiated by an anomalous experience and evidenced by expanding levels of reported inner and outer transpersonal awareness. This paper is based on a review of hundreds of experiencer first-person written narratives solicited by Rhea White and the EHE Network over the past decade. It presents an orthogonal expansion of our original 5-stage EHE process outline. The expanded model highlights a 5-stage x 12-classifier matrix design, including 60 unique cells into which characteristics synthesized across, and detailed within, experiencer narratives can be captured and mapped. The matrix model offers both a tool for researchers, in the form of a classification grid, as well as a map of key features noted and synthesized across, and within, each of the stages of the EHE process. The discussion fleshes out some of the key issues for each of the stages. In addition, the discussion speaks to the overarching processional interactions between stages with a focus toward furthering exploration, research, and application.
Machado, Fátima Regina, & Zangari, Wellington (2000). The poltergeist in Brazil: A review of the literature in context. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11, (1), 113-142.
The authors review the Brazilian literature on poltergeist phenomena, considering the historical and social context in which it was produced. It is necessary to understand the context in which specific Brazilian works were written in order to understand their contents. Brazilian poltergeist literature reflects the development of parapsychology in Brazil, which is marked by the defense of religious points of view in a war of words between Catholics and Spiritists. The study of poltergeists has special importance in this war of words because the Spiritists believe that these phenomena are the best evidence of the action of spirits in our world. On the other hand, Catholics interpret the phenomenon as the result of a psychopathological disturbance in the agent, a living human being, and propose a treatment for him or her. New researchers sustain a natural and psychodynamic explanation for the occurrences, but, even so, many of them still are influenced by the psychopathological approach.
Cornell, A. D. (2000). The seen and unseen ghost. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11 (1), 143-150.
The investigation of an haunting case reported in the late 1960s by a widowed woman living alone is briefly described. The author recounts the initial visit of the Cambridge University Society for Psychical Research (CUSPR) investigating team, and their differing experiences. That is, one investigator saw a ghost which coincided in appearance but not in actions to the description given by the experiencer, even though that investigator had not as yet heard the description. The other investigator, on the other hand, who did know how the ghost was supposed to look and behave, saw nothing. The author deals briefly with the question of what is perceived in such investigations, in particular, what to make of differing and similar perceptions, and how details of these support the hallucinatory or telepathic theories of haunting apparitions.