2012: Volume 12

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology


Volume 12(1), pp. 7-21

Paranormal Belief and Biases in Reasoning Underlying the Formation of Delusions

Harvey J. Irwin, Neil Dagnall, & Kenneth Drinkwater

Abstract: Some recent research suggests that psychological processes underlying the formation of paranormal beliefs have much in common with those underlying delusional beliefs. On this ground a survey was conducted to investigate the relationship between paranormal beliefs and distortions in reasoning known to be associated with the development of psychotic delusions. A convenience sample of 250 people completed an online inventory of questionnaires measuring the intensity of paranormal beliefs, schizotypal biases in reasoning, and the need for closure. Both dimensions of paranormal belief surveyed here were found to be predicted by reasoning biases.


Volume 12(1), pp. 23-37

Perspectives in Modelling Precognition, Presentiment, and Human Agency

Alexis Lutherborrough

Abstract: The possibility of the existence of precognition raises a number of difficult philosophical and conceptual questions. For example, it raises questions regarding freewill versus determinism (Radin, 1988) or perhaps more appropriately, freewill versus eternalism. In particular, if eternalism is true and the future is, in some sense, eternal or fixed, this entails a kind of fatalism in which the freewill of the agent cannot alter future events. If an agent has knowledge or precognition of the actual or true future they could use this knowledge to alter the future event, rendering the precognitive event false and therefore creating a paradoxical situation where the event both did and did not occur. This paradox is often referred to as the intervention paradox (Mitchell, 2004). In this paper, Radin’s (2006, 2009) studies in presentiment (physiologically measured reactions to future events) are examined and the theoretical (not necessarily empirical) possibility that presentiment can lead to an intervention paradox is examined. One of Radin’s (Radin & Borges, 2009) studies suggests that during presentiment, subjects access a single actualized future, therefore implying the theoretical possibility of an intervention paradox. This paper examines different ways to accommodate human agency or freewill and the notion of precognitive access to an actualized future. An alternative conception of how to accommodate precognitive events and agency will be suggested using Rauscher and Targ’s (2001) eight-dimensional complex space-time model. The paper ends with some speculations of how a certain version of the model could be empirically tested.

Volume 1
2(1), pp. 3958

I Ching Outcomes from Experimental Manipulations of Transliminality and Paranormal Belief

James Houran and Rense Lange

Abstract: We explored experimenter effects in a study with theChinese book of divination the I Ching, which contains 64 hexagrams (6-line structures) and associated readings. Three  coins are thrown six times to generate one of these hexagrams. Participants and Experimenters (combined N = 120) were recruited based on scoring patterns on Transliminality and Paranormal Belief to produce four experimental groups (N = 15 pairs each) of varying levels of Paranormal Belief and Transliminality: High/High; High/Low; Low/High and Low/Low. Participants selected 16 of 64 hexagram-descriptor pairs, based on their emotional or cognitive states of mind. A ‘hit’ was observed when 1 of the 16 choices would come up (PMCE = .25). It was predicted that the hit rate of the High/High group would be significantly greater than chance, the High/High group would score significantly higher than the three control conditions (High/Low, Low/High, Low/Low), and that the three control conditions would score similarly. It was further expected that Transliminality, Paranormal Belief and Sex would show main and interaction effects for hit rate on the I Ching task. The hit rate on First Hexagrams was 27 out of 60 (45%; p < .001), which far exceeds the 25% chance level, and the High/High group didhave the highest raw score hit rate, but there were no significant main or interaction effects of Transliminality, Paranormal Belief or Sex. These surprising  findings suggest that the specific differences in experimental protocols between the present study and past research are partly responsible. The two main differences discussed involve (i) the notion of spontaneity and ambiguity related to the task and (ii) treating psi outcomes on the I Ching as a  Rasch-trait variable rather than as independent observations.

2012, Volume 12(1), pp. 5968

Auditory Hallucinations Predict Likelihood of Out-of-Body Experience

Alexander De Foe, George Van Doorn, & Mark Symmons

Abstract: An Out of Body Experience (OBE) occurs when the centre of a person’s awareness appears to temporarily occupy a position which is spatially remote from their body. Prior research suggests that fantasy proneness factors are predictors of OBE likelihood, specifically prior auditory, visual, and kinaesthetic hallucinations. Three hundred and seventy participants completed an online questionnaire investigating variables that, potentially, contributed to their OBEs. Binary Logistic Regression identified one item that predicted whether or not a person had experienced an OBE: whether a participant had, or had not, previously experienced an auditory hallucination.

Volume 1
2(1), pp. 6980

Has the Sheep-Goat Variable Had Its Day? Testing Transliminality as a Psi Predictor

Michael A. Thalbourne & Lance Storm

Abstract: When multiple independent variables and the sheep-goat variable (SGV) are examined, eight methodologically-selected predictor variables (i.e., Absorption, Fantasy-Proneness, Hyperæsthesia, Dream-Interpretation, Mystical Experience, Magical Ideation, Creative Personality, and Manic Experience) not only correlated significantly with the SGV, but all eight correlated significantly with each other. Factor analysis revealed a single underlying factor which was named “transliminality”. In this paper it is argued that transliminality is a variable that is both an index of the SGV (transliminality and the SGV are more-or-less interchangeable) and, moreover, the former may be superior to the latter because it takes into account the eight variables mentioned above that are positively correlated with the SGV, some of which have been found to predict psi performance independently. Statistical comparisons between groups of studies using the transliminality measure and the SGV are encouraging—transliminality is fairly successful at predicting psi outcomes/experience. It is argued that in future studies, the SGV and transliminality should be administered concurrently in order to determine which of the two is superior at predicting psi.

Volume 1
2(2), pp. 107126

Paranormal Beliefs and Cognitive Processes Underlying the Formation of Delusions


Abstract: Recent research suggests that paranormal beliefs and delusional beliefs may have similar cognitive foundations. In order to explore this link further a survey was conducted to investigate the relationship between paranormal beliefs and cognitive dysfunctions known to be associated with the development of clinically defined delusions. A convenience sample of 207 people completed an online inventory of questionnaires measuring paranormal beliefs, inferential confusion, confirmation bias, and metacognitive beliefs. Both dimensions of paranormal belief surveyed here were found to be predicted by these cognitive factors. The construction of paranormal beliefs as delusions is critically discussed.


Volume 12(2), pp. 127158

Paranormal and Alternative Health Beliefs as Quasi-Beliefs: Implications for Item Content in Paranormal Belief Questionnaires


Abstract: This study examined whether complementary and alternative medical (CAM) beliefs, and other anomalous beliefs, exhibit the characteristics of quasi-beliefs, whereby participants profess strong belief in the popular expression of a topic, known as the primary item (e.g., the Bermuda triangle ‘mystery’) but disagree with related items and/or the putative “cause” of the topic, known as secondary items (e.g., people mysteriously disappearing, never to be seen again). A set of items in the form of a survey referring to 11 anomalous and CAM topics was administered to 412 participants, and results confirmed that participants who are strong believers in the primary items display an erratic pattern of approval towards secondary items. Most frequently, participants strongly approve of the primary item but disagree to the likelihood of all secondary items, which is evidence that many anomalous and CAM topics possess quasi-belief status. Potential reasons for participants’ responses, and the implications of quasi-belief items in standard questionnaire items, are discussed.

Volume 1
2(2), pp. 159167

Reflections on Paranormal Beliefs as Informed vs. Pseudo Beliefs: Comment on Jinks (2012)


Abstract: Jinks (2012) proposes that complementary and alternative medical beliefs, and other anomalous beliefs, exhibit the characteristics of quasi-beliefs versus informed beliefs, and therefore past research on paranormal belief may not accurately represent the socio-psychological tendencies and traits of strong believers. However, we outline conceptual, psychometric and methodological issues that arguably limit Jinks’ main conclusions, which may have inherent merit but that require substantial refinements and replications before a revised typology of paranormal believers should be accepted as established and meaningful.


Volume 12(2), pp. 169175

Reply to Houran and Lange (2012)


Abstract: Houran and Lange (2012) claim that I (Jinks, 2012) criticise past paranormal belief research for not accurately representing the socio-psychological tendencies and traits of strong believers. They outline conceptual, psychometric and methodological issues that limit my main conclusions. In this reply, I clarify Houran and Lange’s mistaken assumption that I conflated ‘informed’ belief with ‘justified’ belief, and ‘quasi’ (or uninformed) belief with ‘unjustified’ belief. I do not classify respondents as justified and unjustified believers. Also, my analysis of relevant paranormal items is not confined to ghosts, but includes relevant items pertaining to anomalous information acquisition. It is important to understand that my original pilot study (Jinks, 2012) was a comparison of responses to primary items (typical of paranormal belief questionnaires) with responses to secondary items that were (potentially) anomalous rationalisations of the topics contained in those items. Finally, I concur with Houran and Lange’s (2012) suggestions for future research.


Volume 12(2), pp. 177185

Research Note: Induced Out-of-Body Experiences are Associated with a Sensation of Leaving the Body


Abstract: Individuals who have had an out-of-body experience (OBE) report that the centre of their awareness appears to, temporarily, shift to a location that is spatially distinct from the location of their physical body. Research suggests that some OBErs report a sensation of leaving their physical body prior to their OBEs, while others instead report spontaneously finding themselves outside of their body. The present study evaluated data collected from 194 participants who claimed to have had an OBE. Instances of spontaneous and autonomously induced OBEs were considered. Binary Logistic Regression identified one item that predicted whether a participant was more likely to have had an induced, rather than a spontaneous, OBE: whether a participant had experienced a sensation of leaving their physical body prior to the OBE.

Volume 1
2(2), pp. 187193

Research Note: Does Personal Consciousness Persist After Death? Some Observations on Kirlian Photography, OBEs, and NDEs


Abstract: The material that is most often attributed to the agency of the deceased—e.g., poltergeist phenomena (see Roll, 2006a)—along with the material examined in the present research note (namely, Kirlian photography, out-of-body experiences [OBEs], and near-death experiences [NDEs])—seem to exhibit several of the characteristics of what we have called ‘this-world-ESP’. It is argued that in ESP, the person may respond to psi interactions of the living only that do not indicate post mortem survival. It is also suggested that ESP, like sense perception, may serve the wellbeing of the individual and its species.