2022: Volume 22

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology


Volume 22(1), pp. 7-29

The Case for Postmortem Survival from the Winners of the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies Essay Contest: A Level of Evidence Analysis


Abstract: We assessed the 29 winning essays of the Bigelow Institute of Consciousness Studies (BICS) contest using an evidence hierarchy approach adopted by many scientific fields. Two independent judges rated the target essays for their quality of scientific evidence, reproducibility, and replicability using an evidence hierarchy adapted from several published models that accommodate both qualitative and quantitative evidence. According to our criteria, six essays (20.7%) were categorized as the highest level of scientific evidence, four essays (13.8%) were categorized at a medium level of scientific evidence, whereas the remaining 19 essays (65.5%) were considered a low level of scientific evidence. The overall agreement of the essay rankings between the present authors’ classifications of evidence quality and the rating system used by the BICS judges was only 44.8%, with a non-significant Spearman’s rho correlation of .03. This result indicates extremely little concordance (overlap) of the two evaluation systems, which corroborates prior research on the critical shortcomings of evidence hierarchies. The essays representing the highest level of scientific evidence per our criteria involved near-death experiences and mental mediumship. For other anomalies that ostensibly support the survival hypothesis (e.g., physical mediumship or electronic voice phenomena), more studies with refined experimental designs are needed to improve their quality of evidence as defined in current scientific terms. Important considerations and future research directions are likewise discussed.


Volume 22(1), pp. 31-54

The Efficacy of HypnOBEs in Producing Veridical Psi Experiences: A Replication Study


Abstract: This study evaluates the efficacy of the hypnOBE paradigm (Tressoldi et al., 2014), which is claimed to (i) hypnotically initiate out-of-body states, and (ii) induce veridical (psi) perceptions of extra-personal space. Twenty-five people were recruited for a two-phase study, all of whom demonstrated a high degree of partial hits in the experimental condition, although only one person was ostensibly able to identify the correct target. Comparisons are made between our study and prior research. We consider the qualitative factors that emerged from our two-phased project and discuss the implications for future research.


Volume 22(1), pp. 55-82

Coincidence in Chinese Fiction and Chinese-Influenced Fiction


Abstract: In this essay, a number of traditional Chinese stories, from the 8th to the 18th century, are considered both for their use of coincidences and for the strong sense of fate or destiny that is very much evident in their plots. The elaborate use of coincidences to support an unfolding destiny is particularly well demonstrated in the ‘The Oil Peddler and the Queen of Flowers’. Also included here is the detective novel, Dee Goong An, in which divination is used as a means for the Tang Dynasty detective, Judge Dee, to track down important criminals. The book was translated into English by the Dutch sinologist Robert van Gulik, who later became famous for writing his own Judge Dee detective stories. Some of the differences between the 18th century original and van Gulik’s own murder mysteries are introduced here—hence the reference in the title of this essay to ‘Chinese-influenced fiction’. One other example of Chinese-influenced fiction is included: Hermann Hesse’s last great novel, The Glass Bead Game, in which the I Ching makes a small but significant contribution to the unfolding narrative.


Volume 22(2), pp. 117-130

The Relationship Between Sleep Onset Rapid Eye Movement and Out-Of-Body Experiences


Abstract: A large amount of anecdotal evidence and literature emphasises a strong link between sleep paralysis (SP) and the phenomenon of out-of-body experience (OBE). Additionally, previous research has established a causal connection between sleep onset rapid eye movement (SOREM) phases of sleep and sleep paralysis. Despite this, no research has yet explicitly identified the potential connection between SOREM sleep and OBEs. In this paper, the author reviews some of the historical accounts of sleep paralysis in OBEs, as well as relating a brief history of SOREM research and theory, including Japanese protocols for SOREM and SP induction. In light of this overview, a hypothetical connection between SOREM and OBEs is suggested. A new and tentative clinical definition of OBEs based upon this hypothesis is introduced, as is a novel experimental approach for inducing OBEs. Some potential avenues for further research are broadly considered, as are several questions unanswered by the current paper.


Volume 22(2), pp. 131-152

The Concept of the “Thought-Form” in Esoteric and Spiritual Therapeutic Traditions, and its Complementarity with the Process of Visualization and Symbolic Efficacy: A Working Hypothesis


Abstract: In the spiritual and esoteric traditions of healing exists the concept of the ‘thought form’ used by energy healers in the context of complementary or alternative therapies. Thought forms represent psychic manifestations of our thoughts and emotions, with a positive or negative connotation, which could be found in subtle energetic form in the spiritual background. The existence and use of this concept in care approaches and its mode of action remain undetermined from a scientific point of view. In the context of anthropological perspectives, we can better discern them and try to find explanatory and interpretative tracks (i.e., ‘reading grids’) for their mode of action. This is the purpose of the present study, which presents this concept within a spiritual cultural framework, and reflects on its effectiveness and its use by comparing it to the processes of visualization and symbolic effectiveness developed in the psychodynamic approaches. An analysis of the literature is proposed on this subject with the objective of hypothesizing that certain action processes used by energy therapists would be visualization, language and symbolization in a manner similar to more conventional psychotherapeutic approaches. The energy healer and the psychotherapist would in some cases use similar approaches to psychological healing.


Volume 22(2), pp. 153-177

Assessing Public Perspectives of Parapsychology through YouTube Commentaries


Abstract: YouTube as a social media platform plays an important role in sharing public views about a range of scientific topics such as parapsychology: an area of science committed to exploring the workings behind anomalous experiences or abilities. This qualitative study analyses how conversations about public perspectives of research into parapsychology, take place on YouTube. Reflective Thematic Analysis (RTA) is used to examine comments on the threads for two comparative films posted by two leading academics with opposing views. Three central themes have emerged: (i) Confirmation Bias; (ii) Laws of Nature, and (iii) Trashing the Holy Altars. Following on from this study, it would be beneficial to carry out a larger study with an additional social media platform for further in-depth analysis of public perceptions of parapsychology and how they are presented online.


Volume 22(2), pp. 179-189

Haunt Phenomena More Probable During New and Full Moon


Abstract: Geomagnetic fields may be a possible mechanism for the alleged interaction between Moon phase and the human brain (or body). This interaction may also be responsible, in part, for the likelihood of haunt-type experiences. A prior study (Dubaj & Mowbray, 2019) found a significant relationship between Moon phase and frequency of reports of haunt-type phenomena, though experiencer’ psychogenic influences were not controlled in that study. In the current study, attitude towards and awareness of Moon phase were both considered at the time of investigation. Spanning a three-year period (2008 to 2010), 49 paranormal and non-paranormal instances of haunt-type phenomena were reported and analyzed with respect to Moon phase. There was a statistically significant association between paranormal instances and Moon phase (p = 0.02, Fisher’s Exact test), with an increase during full and new Moon phases. No significance was found for non-paranormal instances. Results support the idea that haunt-type phenomena may be associated with Moon phase beyond simple psychological factors. The exact mode of interaction between Moon phase and experiencer remains to be elucidated, but our findings indicate that a physical process may be responsible, beyond a basic psychological expectation effect or other psychogenic influences.