Sunday, November 30, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
A Basic Primer for Paranormal Enthusiasts is now available as a downloadable pdf for ease of printing and sharing. In this primer, we give a brief overview of what parapsychologists have learned so far about temperature in relation to haunting experiences, and provide some useful tips on how to properly collect and interpret temperature readings during field investigations. The primer can be used along with our previous one on magnetic fields (Williams, Ventola, & Wilson, 2007), which it is meant to supplement. Enjoy!
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
University de Rouen, France
Thursday, November 06, 2008
University de Rouen, France
Monday, November 03, 2008
I'd like to welcome Fran Theis in her first contribution to Public Parapsychology. Below is her review of Dr. Marilyn Isabelle Schmidt's book, Remote Viewing: A Theoretical Investigation of the State of the Art.
Over the years I've picked up the habit of thumbing through the bibliography of a book to get a sense of where the author may be coming from before giving my attention to the preambles. Dr. Schmidt's bibliography didn't disappoint, and showed her book to be based on scholarly concepts and solid research. I've long thought the academic world needed a book that would present a basic overview of the state of the art, something science-based that could create a foundation for courses of study in the field of Remote Viewing (RV) at the high school as well as university level. Perhaps this is the book.
For the practitioner of RV, Remote Viewing: A Theoretical Investigation of the State of the Art not only provides a succinct history of practices leading up to today's acceptance of RV as a useful tool, but is a good overview of where investigation of the human ability to perceive anomalously stands at the moment. It isn't by any means a ‘how-to’ book, but is more like looking under the hood of an airplane to see how the engine might work than learning how to fly it.
My second pleasant discovery occurred on page three of the Introduction, where Dr. Schmidt placed her Definitions of Technical Terms and Acronyms. What wonderful common sense to start the reader out with an understanding of the author's sense of the meaning of terms right from the get-go. I’m surely not the only one who has read on in a book, too lazy to thumb to the back for clarification, and realized too late the author and I weren't using common meanings for terms.
Unfortunately, I disagree with one of Dr. Schmidt’s term definitions, her definition of remote viewing! Dr. Schmidt defines remote viewing as: “An experimental technique for obtaining information about a site remote to the viewer without ordinary use of the senses...” I object to the word “experimental” because the human capacity for remote viewing has long been shown to exist, starting with Targ and Puthoff's paradigm-changing experiments at the Stanford Research Institute, and as demonstrated in numerous works in her own bibliography, not the least of which is Dean Radin's brilliant meta-analysis, The Conscious Universe. Were I able to rearrange her book, I would have Dr. Schmidt insert her wonderful description of remote viewing in the first paragraph of her concluding remarks, which starts by describing remote viewing as “...an innate ability that all humans have...” (p. 190) into her Definitions section. The dichotomy of her two definitions makes me wonder if she began her research thinking conservatively that remote viewing is unproven, and eventually came to the conclusion that it is a commonly manifested human capability. There is much yet to be discovered about anomalous cognition.In that sense, much experimentation needs to be done in regard to remoteviewing, but the capacity for remote viewing itself has been demonstrated to such a thorough extent that anyone who has done her homework, as Dr. Schmidt certainly has, should understand that the capacity has indeed been proven.
Serious investigators of the subject of remote viewing will find Remote Viewing to be consistently well annotated. Dr. Schmidt has done a highly professional job of letting out the string so the reader can backtrack to find further information on subjects of interest. One of my personal pet peeves is to find mention of research on a subject without the author having followed up with attribution. This book is one of the better examples of how to properly present serious support for a very important subject.
I was saddened to find an omission regarding a historically significant remote viewing done by Pat Price with Russell Targ at SRI. Price’s target response showed two pools of water in a park-like setting that at the time seemed like a target miss. Dr. Schmidt seems unaware that several years after that particular remote viewing was done Russell discovered that Price was indeed accurate, because he had viewed how the site looked many years in the past. To Targ's surprise, the viewing had been a retro-cognition! When the RV was originally done, the investigators had not yet learned to specify the exact year, day and time for targets. Today, a properly trained remote viewer would not make such a mistake. If there are reprints of the book, I hope Dr. Schmidt will consider adding an update and a mention of how important proper targeting through time is to remote viewing.
Dr. Schmidt and I are in complete agreement on some of her recommendations for further research. I, too, believe that much can be learned from the subjective process of remote viewing, and envision a day when the study of spontaneous anomalous experience can be given the emphasis that laboratory experimentation has been given to date.
Any student serious about knowing the nuts and bolts of remote viewing and who wants a general overview of the state of the art will be served by investing in Dr. Schmidt's scholarly work. She's done the leg work for those who would like to have a sense of the basics of the field, and her bibliography will point the way to more in-depth study of the aspects of remote viewing that individually inspire. Dr. Schmidt tells us the book was originally presented as her doctoral dissertation. I have no doubt she received the highest praise from her committee, and hope she will go on to sell many hundreds of copies to students and teachers who will utilize this substantial contribution to remote viewing literature. The survey of concepts presented here has the potential of providing starting points for student essays and scholarly updates on issues and experimentation for years to come. I, for one, am grateful to Dr. Schmidt for making the effort to do the work to produce such a fine addition to a field about which I am passionate.
* Fran Theis, MS, APR, is CEO of Theis Communications, Inc., an international public relations consultancy. Her Master of Science is in Broadcasting Communication from Boston University, and her Bachelor of Arts is in English Literature. She is accredited in public relations by the Public Relations Society of America. Fran has been trained in Controlled Remote Viewing through Stage VI by Paul H. Smith, author of the original military CRV Manual, and Gabrielle Pettingell. Fran is a member of the International Remote Viewing Association, Society for Scientific Exploration, and the Parapsychological Association.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Outside of philosophy of science circles, few people have ever heard of Imre Lakatos. Lakatos, who died in 1974 at the age of 51, was a peer of Thomas Kuhn, now famous for bringing the word “paradigm” into popular use. Lakatos’s ideas about scientific progress are subtler than Kuhn’s notion of sudden paradigm shifts, but in other ways they harmonize.
Kuhn’s revolutionary ideas exposed the role of the “Old Guard” in slowing scientific progress. The Old Guard is the gatekeeper of social and scientific orthodoxy. Its ranks are filled with scientists, academics, scholars, professors, and theorists. Defenders of the status quo, they have committed their careers to a certain way of approaching the world. They are so invested in the old way of doing things that they are obliged to allow only small, acceptable changes to the old paradigm and fight against the new.
Thomas Kuhn told us why they do it. Imre Lakatos told us how they do it.
Members of the Old Guard don’t just argue against new ideas that conflict or contradict the paradigm they zealously defend. And they don’t just ignore or reject new perspectives, new tools, or new findings that don’t square with the world view they are committed to protecting. They actively resist change by denying to any researcher who fails to win their approval the means to make progress in the field. The Old Guard owns the resources that make research possible.
What are these resources? First there are the official publications, the refereed journals, the textbook publishers. If your experiment fits inside the borders of the old paradigm, your findings stand a good chance of being published in journals or books where others can see them and build upon them. What you discover becomes part of the world’s knowledge base.
If, however, you research a phenomenon that is deemed inappropriate – that is, for example in the case of ESP or remote viewing, considered ‘pseudoscience’ – it does not matter how carefully you work, nor how profound your discoveries. The Old Guard will spurn you. You will not get published, no one will notice your work, and no one will build on your findings.
But that is not the only way the Old Guard keeps the new paradigm at bay. The most powerful means to enforce orthodoxy in science is by controlling the money. Nearly all research requires some level of funding. Whether it is for specialized instruments, data processing, analysis, test tubes, meters, office materials, compensation, or travel – without funding it is difficult to do much worthwhile research. Super-colliders, quantum computing, genetic modification, stem cell research, or even grizzly bear reproduction receives billions, millions, or even scores of thousands of dollars in grants and research funds.
There was a time when ESP and other kinds of parapsychology research received not millions, but at least thousands of dollars a year. But as the skeptic movement gained strength, the funds for ESP research dried up. And the skeptical community, along with mainstream science that the skeptics have managed to co-opt, wants to keep it that way.
It is time, however, for a change. Thomas Kuhn knew that the Old Guard doesn’t last forever. And Imre Lakatos told us that old “scientific programmes” eventually give way under pressure from the new.
The International Remote Viewing Association (IRVA) wants to lead the way. To accomplish this IRVA is doing three things:
Building an online resource of information to help those interested in scientifically investigating remote viewing create good quality research projects and experiments
Activating the Gabrielle Pettingell Memorial Research Fund. You can make your tax-deductible contribution by mail or online at http://www.irva.org . We welcome any amount from $10 to $10,000 or more. You can be sure that your contributions will used only for worthy research projects.
Sponsoring its first-ever remote viewing research project
In November a group of six experienced remote viewers will gather and, assisted by four additional research personnel, will to do four sets of double-blind remote viewing targets while being monitored by an operating random event generator (see details). This experiment is being coordinated by consciousness researcher Melvin Morse, MD, IRVA’s secretary John P. Stahler, and IRVA’s president, Paul H. Smith. Expenses will run about $2,000. You can earmark your contributions for this experiment by noting ‘RV/REG experiment’ on your check or online transaction.
You may have heard of guerrilla marketing. Now we open a new era of Guerilla Funding. You have a chance to join a movement that aims to overwhelm the Old Guard. Become a part of future history by joining with us today.Paul H. Smith