Monday, August 27, 2007

This Week at the Rhine Research Center

Environmental Effects On Consciousness Research and Repeatability,
a presentation by James Beal.

James Beal is a retired aerospace engineer, long-time researcher of the effect of natural and artificial electromagnetic fields on living systems, and founder of EMF Interface Consulting. Jim will review how EMF influences consciousness in general, then focus on how these factors may relate to psi phenomena in four general areas: (1) Inherited factors, or psi from childhood with sensitivities to geoelectromagnetic and artificial EMF’s, (2) Spontaneous psi that often occurs during anger and stressful states, (3) Controlled psi that occurs with training in mental/physical/spiritual disciplines and focused intentionality, and (4) Psi that occurs in stressful or extreme conditions, such as anger, ecstasy, depression, survival reaction, illness, allergic and drug reactions, and vision quests. Jim will discuss the influences he finds most likely for optimal repeatable psi research. Excerpts from a "Haunted House, Haunted Mind" DVD will illustrate geoelectromagnetic effects on the mind that evoke haunting phenomena.

When: Wednesday, August 29th, 2007 at 7:30 pm
Where: The Alex Tanous Library at the Rhine Center. CLICK HERE for directions to the Rhine Center.
Registration Fee: FREE

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Upcoming SPR Conference

The SPR's annual international conference will be held at the University of Cardiff on August 31st through September 2nd this year. As usual, a wide range of topics will be covered, with popular speakers including Richard Broughton, David Fontana and Erlandur Haraldsson, and an after dinner talk by the SPR's new President, Deborah Delanoy.

Editorial: OBE's induced in the lab?

Several days ago, the University College London reported on a study recently published in Science, in which neuroscientist Dr Henrik Ehrsson claims to have induced out-of-body experiences in volunteers in his lab. If you read the article, you might see that this is a clever study that provides great insight into our bodily perceptions and sense of self. But have these scientists really induced the same sort of out-of-body experiences that have been studied by parapsychologists for decades? Poking around the Internet for the blogsphere's reaction, it looks like I'm not alone when I say 'no'. Commentaries at The Daily Grail and Mind Hacks illuminate the issue, as well as providing excellent additional links.

I don't know if we could iron out a 'classic' symptomology of OBE's, but the most central elements of these experiences include a loss of bodily sensation and the image of being disembodied. The experimenters at the UCL neuroscience lab provided volunteers with this image of disembodiment; they did not induce it. And the manipulation of stroking volunteers' chest and back areas suggest that participants still experienced bodily sensations during the sessions. While the participants did experience the sensation of being out of their bodies, calling this an induction of the out-body-experience, the same experience that according to the press release "has been much discussed in theology, philosophy and psychology," is an overgeneralization.

It remains to be seen if the research at UCL can help provide an explanatory model for spontaneous OBE's. In the meantime, if there is any sort of application for this particular study, we would be more likely see it in the next release of the Nintendo Wii before theologists, philosophers, and psychologists start rewriting their textbooks. This is, of course, just my opinion on the topic, but PPB readers are welcome to chime in with their own...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Suffer from Arthritis?

If you suffer from arthritis and would be interested in participating in a distance healing study, researchers at the University of Edinburgh would like to hear from you. Skeptical participants are needed, as well as those who believe in distance healing. Participants will be asked to complete questionnaires three times over a three-month period. All participants will have the chance to receive distance healing, free of charge.

What is Distance Healing? Distance healing is a hypothesized form of healing intentionality occurring beyond the reach of the psychical senses, which appears to be unmediated by any demonstrable form of physical signal. It encompasses a broad range of healing practices. Broadly speaking, healers in this study will use forms of meditation in which the practitioner holds a compassionate intention to relieve the suffering of another.

Will I receive Distance Healing? Participants will be randomly assigned to a group. Half will receive distance healing; the other half will provide a comparison. Furthermore, half of the participants will know what group they have been assigned to, and the other half will not know what group they are in. You will be given the option, upon the completion of the research, to receive distance healing if you did not already receive it.

Who will see my completed questionnaires? Your questionnaires will be coded numerically, and measures are made so that the information provided is held in the strictest confidence and your identity is anonymous.

Will I be compensated for my time? Yes. You will receive £5 each time you complete a questionnaire packet, a total of £15.

If you are interested, please contact Alison Easter for further information and to see if you are eligible, by post, email or telephone.

The University of Edinburgh
7 George Square
Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ

Tel.: 0131 208 1084
Mobile: 0777 195 5892

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

First Issue of AntiMatters is Out

AntiMatters has published its first issue at

A quarterly open-access journal published by the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, AntiMatters addresses issues in science and the humanities from non-materialistic perspectives.

The current issue features contributions from Stephen Braude, Neal Grossman, and Gary Schwartz among several others.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Attention UK and EU Students

From the Psychology of the Paranormal E-mail network:

The University of Hertfordshire is investing in its research base, and is pleased to offer the following opportunity to work in interdisciplinary research, under the supervision of Prof Richard Wiseman (psychology) and Dr Owen Davies (history). We are offering a three year full-time studentship leading to the award of PhD, on the following topic:

In 1950 an English Gallup survey revealed that only 10 per cent of people believed in ghosts, yet opinion polls today suggest that between 36 and 42 per cent of the British population believe in them. While it has been a regular topic for pollsters, such simplistic questions as 'Do you believe in ghosts?' tell us little about why belief has increased over the last fifty years. This Studentship will explore this from historical and psychological perspectives, paying particular attention to the secularisation debate that has dominated sociological and historical research on twentieth-century religion. That ghost belief has become more socially acceptable as formal religious participation has declined throws up important questions about the growth of a pluralistic spirituality. The student will devise questionnaires and conduct interviews with a cross-section of Hertfordshire¹s multi-ethnic society to explore how individual and generational patterns of belief have changed over time in different religious and ethnic communities.

The studentship will pay your fees and provide a stipend of £12,600. Due to funding body restrictions eligibility is limited to UK and EU citizens.

The successful candidates should normally hold at least a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) from a recognised institution.

For further information on the project please contact Prof Wiseman ( or Dr Davies ( For an application form please email

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Watt at the Guardian

Professor Caroline Watt, at the Koestler Parapsychology Unit, has written a short piece titled Making Our Presence Known at the Guardian website. In the article, she makes the argument that teaching parapsychology in higher education is a great opportunity for stimulating critical thinking. Unfortunately, if you read the comments thread, you will probably notice an absence of critical thinking from the majority of readers who responded to the article.

Monday, August 06, 2007

George P. Hansen on the Web

George P. Hansen, a magician, parapsychologist, and author of The Trickster and the Paranormal, has started his own blog at

Additionally, Hansen will be making an appearance on Marcel Cairo's podcast, AfterLifeFM this Tuesday at 7:00pm EST.

Update: the podcast interview with Hansen was cancelled due to a family tragedy. Please keep Marcel Cairo's family in your thoughts.

(almost but not quite) Back from Halifax

The 50th annual conference of the Parapsychological Association ended Sunday afternoon. I had a wonderful time, got caught up with some old friends, and met some new ones. Both of my presentations went over very well and I'm hoping that we might find some guest bloggers/reviewers here at Public Parapsychology as a result of my workshop on public scholarship Saturday night. The conference made the local news, and the article (which I thought was very well-written) attracted a small number of locals. Between that, and my first experience with, I also got to know some of the fine people of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Unfortunately, my car broke down outside of Syracuse, New York today. The compressor died on my air conditioner, which wasn't a big deal...until it caused my serpentine belt to break several hours later. That's a mean surprise to get while you're barreling down the highway at 75 mph. Fortunately though, this happened just as I was about to pass an emergency parking area. Two people stopped to offer their help. My tow truck driver went out of his way to find a garage that was still open after 6pm. The garage was closing, but volunteered to stay open long enough for my arrival. However, they found that they wouldn't be able to complete the work until tomorrow morning after all, so I'm stranded in Syracuse for the night. The garage happened to be next door to a motel and a diner, so I'm comfortably stranded at least. So many people have shown me kindness in the last couple of hours. My finances might be dwindling, but my faith in humanity is restored.

I took lots of pictures at the conference, and there were a lot of great presentations to review here at Public Parapsychology. Once I make it back to Columbus, Ohio, I'm going to try to enjoy a few days off...maybe go to the state fair, and dangle a string in front of my cats. But additional posts about the conference are forthcoming. Stay tuned.