Saturday, October 31, 2009

Anomalous Experiences Primer: Introduction

Apparitional Experiences: A Primer on Parapsychological Research and Perspectives

We wish to dedicate this primer to the memory of Dr. Gertrude R. Schmeidler (1912 – 2009), one of the leading female parapsychologists in the field, who, in 1966, had devised an ingenious method of applying the statistical techniques of laboratory tests to the field study of ghosts, apparitions, and hauntings.


Stories about ghosts and apparitions of the dead have long been the basis for much myth, fantasy, and folklore in human culture. But is there really something to them beyond pure imagination and superstition? According to a Gallup survey conducted in June of 2005, just under one-third of the 1,002 adult Americans surveyed (32%) had answered affirmatively to the question, “Do you believe that ghosts/spirits of dead people can come back in certain places/situations?” (Lyons, 2005). A poll of 808 Americans by CBS News in October of 2005 indicated that just over one-fifth (22%) have seen or felt the presence of a ghost (Alfano, 2005). Slightly higher figures were indicated in a poll of 721 British adults in February of 1998: 40% believed in ghosts, while 37% had seen or felt one (MORI, 1998). In addition, reports of ghosts and apparitions have appeared across many cultures over the course of time (Editors of Time-Life Books, 1988), suggesting that apparitional beliefs and experiences are a persistent and widespread phenomenon.

Experiences that people have had with apparitions are of interest to parapsychologists for three main reasons. First, the process of witnessing an apparition may perhaps involve the use of extrasensory perception, or ESP. If that is so, then this may provide us with a possible reason as to why some people (particularly psychics and mediums) are reportedly able to see or otherwise “sense” apparitions, while others are not. Second, some of the physical phenomena that can be associated with apparitions, such as odd sounds and occasional object movements, may perhaps involve the use of psychokinesis (PK), or “mind over matter.” It could perhaps be the case that the apparition seen was somehow formed through a PK-related process as well. Third, apparitions clearly seem relevant to the issue of possible life after death, and interest in this issue tends to be one thing that parapsychologists have in common with the diverse community of paranormal enthusiasts who have a broader interest of investigating ghosts and apparitions in relation to alleged hauntings. It turns out, however, that there may be more to ghosts and apparitions than just haunts.

This Halloween day, we are launching a third installment of our basic primer series – yet another “crash course,” if you will – for paranormal enthusiasts and the general public for the prime reason that there has been much misunderstanding within the paranormal enthusiast community regarding what has been learned in the past about ghosts and apparitions, particularly by parapsychologists. To help guide enthusiasts with their own background knowledge for field investigations, we will be providing a basic, accessible overview of the current parapsychological research and perspectives over the next week. We hope that this primer will help to bridge the gap between parapsychologists and paranormal enthusiasts when it comes to the study of ghosts and their relevance to the issue of survival after death.

Bryan Williams, University of New Mexico
Annalisa Ventola, CERCAP
Mike Wilson, Psi Society


Alfano, S. (2005, October 30). Poll: Majority believe in ghosts. CBS News on-line report. Available over the Internet at: Accessed October 8, 2009.

Editors of Time-Life Books. (1988). Phantom Encounters (Volume in the series “Mysteries of the Unknown”). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books.

Lyons, L. (2005, July 12). One-third of Americans believe dearly may not have departed. Gallup Survey on-line report. Available over the Internet at: Accessed October 5, 2009.

MORI. (1998). Paranormal survey [Conducted for the Sun newspaper]. Available over the Internet at: Accessed October 8, 2009.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Michael Jawer to Give PF Lecture

Author Michael Jawer giving a
PF Perspectives Lecture at the Open Center in Manhattan
on Thursday, October 29th, 2009!

From 7:00pm to 9:00pm on Thursday, October 29th (doors open at 6:45 p.m.), Michael Jawer will present a lecture centering on his new book, written with colleague, Mark Micozzi and titled “The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion: How Feelings Link the Brain, the Body, and the Sixth Sense.” The lecture will be held at the New York Open Center at 22 East 30th Street in Manhattan. Seating is limited so call 212-628-1550 to reserve (there's a $5.00 donation at the door.)

Contemporary science holds that the brain rules the body and generates all our feelings and perceptions. Authors Michael Jawer and Dr. Marc Micozzi disagree. They contend that it is our feelings that underlie our conscious selves.

The development of one’s feelings lies at the core of our individual personalities. Throughout our lives, emotion plays a lead role in susceptibility to stress, immune function, and wellness or illness. And, most startlingly, emotion turns out to be critical to understanding anomalous perceptions.

Based on differences in how each of us literally feels — our innate sensitivity — the more physical disturbances we are likely to have: from ailments such as allergies, migraines, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, phantom pain, and post-traumatic stress to anomalous perceptions such as apparitions and involuntary out-of-body experience. Citing the latest research on immunity, sensation, stress, cognition, and emotional expression, Jawer and Micozzi’s new book demonstrates that the way we process our feelings provides a key to who is most likely to experience these phenomena and why. Emotion is the portal into a world of extraordinary perception — and a slew of studies offer a scientific foundation for telepathic dreams, poltergeist disturbances, and more.

The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion challenges science’s prevailing belief that the brain must necessarily rule the body. Far from being a mere by-product of neurochemistry, emotion is the vehicle by which we can understand ourselves and our interactions with the world around us, as well as our most intriguing — and perennially baffling — experiences.

Michael Jawer is an independent researcher who has been examining mind-body differences among individuals for the past 10 years. His original survey investigation, published by the Society for Psychical Research in the UK, uncovered linkages between environmental sensitivities, a variety of personality factors, and apparitional experience. His papers have also appeared in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, Seminars in Integrative Medicine, and Science & Consciousness Review. Jawer’s interest in emotion and extraordinary sensitivities was kindled by his investigation of indoor air quality/sick building issues in the 1990s. Jawer was awarded the 2005 D. Scott Rogo Award for Parapsychological Literature. That award partially funded the writing of the book.

Marc S. Micozzi, MD, PhD, is adjunct professor of physiology and biophysics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. He edited the first US alternative medicine textbook, Fundamentals of Complementary & Alternative Medicine, now in its fourth edition. He has consistently been committed to helping to raise the standards for research, investigation, and practice in the growing field of complementary and alternative medicine. Dr. Micozzi has been a frequent speaker on these topics nationally and internationally, and has organized and chaired conferences with the likes of former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and Dr. Dean Ornish.

Their book, The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion (with a Foreword by Larry Dossey, MD) is published by Park Street Press. It is noted in the current issue of Psychology Today and has been chosen for the Book-of-the-Month Club’s “One Spirit” catalog. The book’s website is

Friday, October 09, 2009

History of Parapsychology PDF Guide

One of the best ways to learn about parapsychology is to study its historical development. History can help you to understand the origin of ideas, theories, methodology, controversies, terms, and other things you may be interested in from the context of the times in which the developments took place, and considering both actual parapsychological work and the social aspects that influenced the field. The latter includes beliefs prevalent at the time, competition with other disciplines, patterns of intellectual influence, and the dynamics of professionalization, among other topics. From the point of view of doing parapsychology, the past literature can provide us resources to avoid past methodological mistakes, generate hypotheses for research, and evaluate controversies. Furthermore, a historical perspective can do much to provide us with the human aspect of parapsychology, aspects such as information about the lives of mediums, psychics, researchers, and theoreticians.

In the downloadable pdf below titled Learning the History of Parapsychology, Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado presents some bibliographical suggestions and links to information sources that will assist interested readers in becoming familiar with the history and past literature of parapsychology.

Download: Learning the History of Parapsychology by Carlos S. Alvarado