2016: Volume 16

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology


Volume 16(1), pp. 7-39

A Case of Ostensible Poltergeist Phenomena Resulting in Lingering Haunt Phenomena


Abstract: An ostensible poltergeist case was investigated after a series of unexplained disturbances, including object movements, was witnessed at a small bar. The initial disturbances ceased after a 13-month period, which coincided with the departure of a staff member who displayed traits similar to RSPK agents. The case was investigated by surveying the remaining staff to document the disturbances they had personally experienced. This survey focused upon quantitative data, while follow-up questions looked at qualitative aspects. Five criteria were created to help determine if the disturbances were due to poltergeist or haunt phenomena. The results of the survey and interviews supported the hypothesis that poltergeist phenomena were occurring at the bar. After another 13-month period a second survey was conducted in order to compare disturbances against the results of the initial survey. The results of the second survey showed that poltergeist disturbances had ceased, having been replaced by disturbances seen in haunt cases. After researching possible causes of RSPK, it was concluded that the suspected RSPK agent may have been experiencing Spiritual Emergency which manifested as poltergeist activity. This in turn could have attracted a discarnate entity/entities that remained on the premises after the suspected RSPK agent had ceased employment at the bar.


Volume 16(1), pp. 41-61

Believe It Or Not: III. Further Analyses on Predictors of Paranormal Belief


AbstractThe aim of this study was to conduct two multiple regression analyses to determine possible underlying predictors of paranormal belief (PB), which was measured using Thalbourne’s (1995) Rasch-scaled Australian Sheep-Goat Scale (RASGS), and the Basic Limiting Principles Questionnaire (BLPQ; Thalbourne, 2010) which was Rasch-scaled (i.e., RBLPQ) specifically for this study. In our first study (Billows & Storm, 2015a), mean scores on PB (both measures) were significantly higher for females compared to males; both measures correlated significantly and positively with conceivability (imagination), but not with depression or locus of control. In our second study (Billows & Storm, 2015b), PB (both measures) correlated positively and significantly with religiosity, and negatively with reasoning (not significantly) as hypothesized, but the non-significant correlation with reactance was positive, which was not in the hypothesized direction. PB varied significantly between religions, but not between income and education levels. In the present study, two multiple regression analyses (with RASGS and RBLPQ as criterion variables) revealed that religiosity was the strongest predictor of PB—the other predictors being conceivability, gender, religion, and income. Age was also a predictor, but only in the model with RASGS as the criterion variable. This research has made some new contributions to the literature on paranormal belief.


Volume 16(1), pp. 63-84

Individual, Perceptual and Psychological Differences between Psi-Tested Self-Claimed Psychics and Non-Psychics


AbstractThe specific aim of the present study was to find psychological differences between psychic and non-psychics. Specifically, we hypothesized that the self-claimed psychics score higher than non-psychics on the following four dimensions: (1) Individual Differences (i.e., neuroticism, extroversion, psychoticism, cognitive and emotional empathy, and defense style); (2) Psychopathology (i.e., healthy and negative schizotypy, dissociation, hallucinations and abnormal perceptions, magical ideation and perceptual aberration); (3) Boundaries (i.e., transliminality and boundary ‘thinness’); and (4) Perception (i.e., perceptual cognition and imagery, and sensation-seeking). The database used in this paper was originally collected as part of a project that investigated the so-called token-object effect (Parra & Argibay, 2013a, 2013b). Two categorization procedures were performed in order to split the sample into (1) Psychic/high-psi-scorers (n = 48) and (2) Non-psychic/low-psi-scorers (n = 44). Psychic/high-psi-scorers scored higher than non-psychic/low-psi-scorers on Extroversion, and they scored lower on Neuroticism and Psychoticism, which confirm previous findings. Other results showed that psychic/high-psi-scorers tended to have ‘thinner’ boundaries, and they reported more unusual/psychic experiences, than non-psychic/low-psi-scorers. The two groups, however, did not differ on schizotypy or dissociation. Generally speaking, the typical psychic in our study (similar to the one described by Eysenck) is ‘sanguine’, tends to be lively, sociable, carefree, talkative, pleasure-seeking, optimistic, and leadership-oriented.


Volume 16(1), pp. 85-90

Research Note: A Rasch Scaling Analysis of Thalbourne’s (2010) Basic Limiting Principles Questionnaire


Abstract: The main purpose of this note is to determine whether Thalbourne’s (2010) Basic Limiting Principles Questionnaire items follow a probabilistic Rasch model acceptably well so that they define a linear scale where (person) scores are approximately at the interval level of measurement.


Volume 16(2), pp. 117-131

Dispositional Scepticism, Attitudes to Science, and Belief in the Paranormal


Abstract: An online survey was undertaken to examine the relationship between the intensity of beliefs in paranormal phenomena and two facets of a scientific worldview, namely, an appreciation of the values of science and a disposition to presumptive scepticism. A sample of 202 British residents participated in the survey. The findings indicate that paranormal believers have both a relatively low regard for the values of science and weak dispositional scepticism. These findings are discussed in terms of the worldview hypothesis of paranormal belief.


Volume 16(2), pp. 133-162

Conformity and Reactance in the I Ching using a Q-Sort/RNG-PK Method: A Pilot Study


Abstract: Storm and Rock (2014a) ran a synchronicity experiment in which a meaningful coincidence of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ events was initiated by first asking participants to represent their inner mental states quantitatively on a Q-Sort Grid. Participants then created the outer event using a Random Number Generator (RNG) to generate an I Ching hexagram with an associated reading, hypothesized to match a high-ranking descriptor-pair. Significant effects include: a psi-hitting RNG-PK effect by psi believers (a.k.a. ‘sheep’), and a psi-missing Q-Sort effect by ‘indecisives’ who are mid-range-scorers on the Rasch-scaled Australian Sheep-Goat Scale (RASGS; a paranormal belief measure devised by Thalbourne, 1995). Storm and Rock (2014b) then reported the results of a reactance (Silvia, 2005) treatment, hypothesized to compromise the performance of nonbelievers in psi (i.e., ‘goats’) who try to disprove the psi hypothesis by performing poorly on psi tasks. Reactance effects approached significance. Indecisives produced the lowest scores on three psi measures (even lower than goats), yet mean scores on two related psi measures (RNG score and Yang lines) were higher (rather than lower) for reactant indecisives compared to control indecisives and reactant goats. In this pilot study, the effects of paranormal belief, conformity (Mehrabian, 2005), and trait reactance on psi performance were investigated, with special focus on indecisives. Using hierarchical multiple regression analysis, trait reactance significantly moderated the relationship between paranormal belief (RASGS) and psi. Conformity was a significant predictor of psi above and beyond the contribution made by the paranormal belief ´ trait-reactance interaction term. However, this was only the case if RASGS scores were transformed (squared). The effects were not unique to indecisives. Results of this study suggest that there are instances in which the relationship between paranormal belief and psi are not necessarily linear.


Volume 16(2), pp. 133-162

Lacan, Psi and the Trickster: A Psychoanalysis of Parapsychology


Abstract: The privileging of physicalist ontologies and rigid experimentalism within parapsychology helps to expose a ‘hole’ in the praxis of the discipline proper; what psychoanalysis generally refers to as a “lack”. Certain not to fill this hole, using the psychoanalytic approach pioneered by Jacques Lacan (i.e., Lacanian psychoanalysis), the following reading aims to develop theoretically a scene by which parapsychology can come, more self-reflectively, to better take in its scientific practice—the unconscious of its subject, how the discipline has chosen to carve itself out within, what Lacan calls the chaotic, polysemic pool of lalangue, that place where meaning slides around. Indeed, such a return to the unconscious actually opens up the field to more counter-hegemonic phenomena that are typically viewed as fringe. To illustrate this point, I deploy the Lacanian après-coup, otherwise known as retroaction (a causality not from the present time), in conjunction with extrasensory perception research to stage just such an encounter, between the subject of parapsychology and its lack. This not only thwarts the so-called ‘source of psi’ problem by showing how parapsychology is running from itself, but also reveals a homology between psi and the objet petit a—the little object of desire that must always be tamed. As such, the disciplinary contouring of parapsychological science evokes the wily qualities of the trickster. It follows that, in the future, a further psychoanalysis of parapsychology could work to develop the theoretical insights of this article with some of Lacan’s other concepts, such as the jouissance of the body (i.e., the anxious pleasure that animates the subject), and the relationship between drive and desire.