2015: Volume 15

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology


Volume 15(1), pp. 7-35

 Believe It Or Not: A Confirmatory Study on Predictors of Paranormal Belief, and a Psi Test

Helen Billows & Lance Storm

Abstract: The major aim of this confirmatory study was to determine possible underlying causes of paranormal belief as discerned in the following four hypotheses: (i) ‘social marginality’ hypothesis, (ii) ‘worldview’ hypothesis, (iii) ‘cognitive deficits’ hypothesis, and (iv) ‘psychodynamic functions’ hypothesis. Paranormal belief was measured using Thalbourne’s (1995) Rasch-scaled Australian Sheep-Goat Scale (ASGS), and Thalbourne’s (2010) new measure, the Basic Limiting Principles Questionnaire (BLPQ). We hypothesized that paranormal belief (a) is higher in females compared to males, and (b) correlates positively with conceivability (imagination), locus of control (LOC), and depression. It was further hypothesised that a sheep-goat effect would be found in an online symbol-identification task, in which it was also hypothesised that a ‘reactance’ treatment (a threatening communication; Silvia, 2005) would negatively affect ESP performance. Participants (N = 149) completed the ASGS, BLPQ, Thalbourne’s (1995) Conceivability Scale, Rotter’s (1966) LOC Scale, and Beck’s (Beck et al., 1996) Depression Inventory-II. The two belief scales correlated highly and significantly. On both paranormal belief measures, mean scores were significantly higher for females compared to males. Paranormal belief (both measures) correlated significantly with conceivability (imagination), but not with LOC and depression. In the psi task, neither a reactance main effect, nor a sheep-goat main effect was found, but the results were in the directions hypothesized. This research confirms two past findings, and has made some new contributions to the parapsychological literature.


Volume 15(1), pp. 37-51

Seeing Rare Things with the Mind’s Eye: Visual Imagery Vividness and Paranormal/Anomalous Experiences

 Alejandro Parra

Abstract: Mental imagery is a perception-like experience in the absence of the appropriate sensory input involving sight, sound, smell, taste, and tactile images. Some scientific research has been conducted to investigate the possible relationships between paranormal experiences and visual imagery. In the present study, paranormal/anomalous experience, and the capacity for visual imagery under open- and closed-eyes conditions, were assessed. It is hypothesized that visual imagery and paranormal/anomalous experiences are correlated. Participants were 348 well-educated believers in psi, interested in paranormal topics. They completed the Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire-Revised (VVIQ-R) and a 10-item self-report inventory designed to collect information on spontaneous paranormal/anomalous experiences. The results showed that visual imagery and paranormal/anomalous experiences correlated significantly, especially for Aura, Remote Healing, and Apparitions, but only in the Open-Eyes condition, with the Closed-Eyes condition performing relatively poorly. These results and advantages of the VVIQ-R are discussed.


 Volume 15(1), pp. 53-79

Some Difficulties in Coincidence Analysis

Laurence Browne

Abstract: A coincidence can be broadly defined as ‘a notable co-occurrence of events’ which may have causal or non-causal origins. Some coincidences have discernible causal connections, though these may be quite subtle and complex. Others are clearly attributable to the random play of chance or luck, while certain ostensibly random coincidences can be distinguished by the numinosity and meaning they hold for the individual involved. C. G. Jung (1991) coined the term synchronicity for such coincidences. There is, however, currently no generally accepted overarching theoretical framework that deals comprehensively and inclusively with the several disparate categories under which different sorts of coincidences might be appropriately classified. Just as planets and stars appear as points of light in the night sky and are indistinguishable to the untrained eye, so coincidences may seem on the surface to be all of one kind. Unfortunately, this has led to a tendency towards either/or explanations to account for them, a situation exacerbated by the ideological and metaphysical presumptions that have historically been equated with particular explanations. This state of affairs is not made any easier by the very real difficulties that occur both in terms of accurate gathering of information in regard to  coincidences and with the analysis itself. Some of the pertinent issues involved will be explored in this article, with a particular focus on synchronicity; for it is with respect to this intriguing concept that much of the confusion lies.


Volume 15(1), pp. 81-87

Debunking an Alleged Feedback Artifact in Thalbourne’s RNG Studies

Michael A. Thalbourne & Lance Storm

Abstract: Over a series of studies, M. A. Thalbourne tried to influence the digital output of a random number generator to demonstrate that psychokinesis (PK) can be influenced by ‘Kundalini’ (an alleged body-energy). The series did not indicate a consistent Kundalini-PK effect. It was later thought that a feedback artifact might explain some of the psi outcomes. In this paper, we show that there is no evidence supporting a feedback artifact. Inspection of past results does suggest a Kundalini-PK effect, but a more objective experimental procedure is advised.


Volume 15(2), pp. 121-139

Thinking Style and the Formation of Paranormal Belief and Disbelief

Harvey J. Irwin

Abstract: Past investigations of the relationship between paranormal beliefs and habitual thinking styles typically have two potentially serious shortcomings: they survey paranormal beliefs formed at some time in the past rather than at the time of their generation, and they treat paranormal belief and paranormal disbelief as polar anchors on a single dimension. An online survey of 129 Australian adults avoided these shortcomings by addressing participants’ interpretation of a summary of research on dermo-optical perception and relating thinking styles to these beliefs and disbeliefs as evoked in real time. The combined data confirmed the conventionally observed relationships between belief and thinking style, but separate analyses for paranormal belief and paranormal disbelief suggested the relationships arose fundamentally from processes involved in the formation of disbelief.


 Volume 15(2), pp. 141-165

Believe It Or Not: II. An Exploratory Study on Possible Predictors of Paranormal Belief

Helen Billows & Lance Storm

Abstract: The main aim of this exploratory study was to determine new or notfully investigated correlates of paranormal belief as discerned in the  following four hypotheses: (i) ‘social marginality’ hypothesis, (ii) ‘worldview’ hypothesis, (iii) ‘cognitive deficits’ hypothesis, and (iv) ‘psychodynamic functions’ hypothesis. Paranormal belief (PB) was measured using Thalbourne’s (1995a) Rasch-scaled Australian Sheep-Goat Scale (RASGS) and the Basic Limiting Principles Questionnaire (BLPQ; Thalbourne, 2010). In our previous study (Billows & Storm, 2015), mean PB scores (both scales) were significantly higher for females compared to males. Both PB scales correlated significantly with conceivability (imagination), but not with depression or locus of control. In this second study, we hypothesized that PB correlates positively with religiosity (measured on Haraldsson’s, 1981, Religiosity Scale; RS), and negatively with income, education, problem-solving (i.e., reasoning), and trait reactance (measured on Hong & Faedda’s, 1996, Psychological Reactance Scale; HPRS). The same participants (N = 149) sampled in the Billows and Storm study provided demographic details, and completed the ASGS, BLPQ, the RS, the 16PF Factor B (Reasoning) scale, and the HPRS. PB correlated positively and significantly with religiosity, but not with income, education, reasoning, and reactance. PB varied significantly between religions, but not between levels of income and education. This research has made some new contributions to the literature on paranormal belief, but findings should be considered tentative pending replication.


 Volume 15(2), pp. 167-196

On the Alleged Scientific Evidence for Survival after Bodily Death

Vernon M. Neppe

Abstract: Evidence for the survival of some component of human consciousness, individual or collective, after bodily death is discussed at three levels: (1) the physical (i.e., neurophysiological) level of the psychic sensitive; (2) the level of the manifestations of the psychic ‘sensitives’, including direct voice communication, out of body experience, recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis, automatic handwriting, ectoplasmic materializations, psychic healing, including psychic surgery, absence healing, paintings of the ‘other side’ done in trance, and psychometry; and (3) the level of content of communications, including the Rosemary Records, Cross Correspondences, and the musical compositions of Rosemary Brown. The following conclusions may be drawn from the data presented: (i) that death as an extinction is an illusory concept; (ii) that individual human entities survive physical death; (iii) that these individual human entities retain at least some knowledge of their physical experiences; (iv) that these individual human entities can continue to learn after physical death; (v) that laws are apparent which contradict, or which occur outside, the range of our physical laws of space, time, and even mass; (vi) that the ‘dead’ have communicated with the living; and (vii) if one further applies the premise that if the basic pattern of human fate is the same, and that if one person survives bodily death, everyone does, then some component of human consciousness survives bodily death. Two appendices outlining recent updated research, data and theoretical contributions are listed.