2017: Volume 17

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology


Volume 17(1), pp. 7-21

An Assessment of the Worldview Theory of Belief in the Paranormal


Abstract: An online survey was undertaken to examine the relationship between the intensity of beliefs in paranormal phenomena and one’s worldview. A sample of 141 Australian university students participated in the survey. Statistical analysis showed that paranormal belief is significantly related to various worldviews when these are considered collectively, but no single worldview made an independently significant contribution to the relationship. The collective relationship also was not a strong one, casting doubt on the sufficiency of the worldview hypothesis of paranormal belief.



Volume 17(1), pp. 23-46

Understanding the Unknown: A Thematic Analysis of Subjective Paranormal Experiences


Abstract: This study investigated personal accounts of subjective paranormal experiences (SPEs). Ten UK-based participants took part in semi-structured interviews, where they discussed how alleged paranormal experiences made them feel, whether the narrated event(s) was unusual/strange, and what they believed caused the occurrence(s). Interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis; a qualitative method that identifies patterns within data. Five central themes emerged (sensory experiences, you are not alone, distortion of reality, personal growth, and socio-cultural factors). Consideration of themes revealed an intricate, inextricable link between perception, interpretation and belief. Generally, SPEs were associated with the desire to comprehend the unknown and a reluctance to accept the uncertain. Findings provided important insights into the phenomenology of paranormal experience, suggested avenues for future research and were consistent with previous findings.


Volume 17(1), pp. 47-60

White Crows Rising: Using Spontaneous Cases to Establish Psi


Abstract: Many, if not most, parapsychologists believe that the existence of psi phenomena cannot be proven through spontaneous case research. However they view the existing body of experimental evidence as sufficient to establish the existence of psi. Often they point to statistical meta-analyses to support this claim. However, Stokes (2015) has argued that the statistically significant, albeit small, effects found in typical meta-analyses may be the result of data selection and fraud, given the high levels of fraud and data selection that have been uncovered in the wider scientific community in both the medical sciences and psychology. In particular, tests of statistical significance in meta-analyses are based on the assumption that none of the experimenters represented in the database are fraudulent and that no data selection has occurred. In light of the high levels of experimenter malfeasance that have recently been uncovered in the wider scientific community, these assumptions are likely false. However, there are instances of striking psi effects in spontaneous psi cases research that defy normal explanations. Cases such as these may offer greater proof of the existence of psi than do psi experiments.


Volume 17(1), pp. 61-88

Commentary on Stokes’s (2017) Quest for “White Crows” in Spontaneous Cases of Psi


Abstract: We critically evaluate Stokes’s arguments that spontaneous cases are valuable for proving the ontological reality of paranormal phenomena. Currently, ‘psi’ and ‘paranormal’ have no explanatory value, but rather are rhetorical devices that merely rename “unexplained or anomalous” experiences or observations. Stokes’s (2017) view of seeing two polarised agendas is misinformed, or at least anachronistic; added to that is his mistaken assumption that spontaneous case studies (which he sees as unambiguous) would be superior to conventional studies involving repetitious procedures (e.g., sampling, experimentation). However, we assert that both approaches are important, and any gaps can be bridged. In particular, a broad review of salient studies suggests that spontaneous cases of anomalous experience are reasonably common, structured and predictable in onset. Thus, they have the potential to inform and reinforce experiments and quantitative models, which collectively aim to build a true explanation for anomalous experiences and outcomes with the ultimate goal of achieving a cumulative theory of human consciousness. Lastly, several methodological or analytical approaches to spontaneous cases and qualitative data are proposed and discussed that can advance these goals.


Volume 17(1), pp. 89-91

Reply to Houran, Lynn and Lange (2017)


Abstract: I see, with some amusement that Houran, Lynn and Lange’s (2017; HLL) comments on my (Stokes, 2017) article “White Crows Rising: Using Spontaneous Cases to Establish Psi” are twice as long as my essay. The vast majority of their comments, including those relating to psychological correlates of belief in psi and reports of ostensible psi experiences are completely irrelevant to my thesis.


Volume 17(2), pp. 127-145

Phenomenology of Non-Dream Premonition Experience and its Relationship with Cognitive Style, Absorption, and Luckiness


Abstract: Much research has addressed the psychological correlates of premonition experience, but little direct attention has been given to the relationships between premonition experience and cognitive style, psychological absorption, and luck in a person’s life. While the main aim of the present study was to compare two sets of findings about premonition experiences—one set of findings from new data specifically collected for the present study, and the other from a previous survey (Parra, 2013)—the secondary aim was to test these above-mentioned relationships. A sample of 234 undergraduate students completed the Premonition Experiences Questionnaire, the Cognitive Style Index, the Tellegen Absorption Scale, and the Questionnaire of Beliefs about Luck. The patterns of findings of the two studies were predominantly similar, with some explainable differences. Cognitive style, Absorption, and Belief in Luck, were predictors of premonition experience.


Volume 17(2), pp. 147-169

Dual-Aspect Monism, Mind-Matter Complementarity, Self-Continuity and Evolutionary Panentheism


Abstract: Physicalism as a worldview and framework for a mechanistic and materialist science seems not to have integrated the tectonic shift created by the rise of quantum physics with its notion of the personal equation of the observer. Psyche had been deliberately removed from a post-Enlightenment science. This paper explores a post-materialist science within a dual-aspect monist conception of nature in which both the mental and the physical exist in a relationship of complementarity so that they mutually exclude one another and yet are together necessary to explain Reality while being irreducible to one another. Both mind and matter emerge from an underlying holistic domain known as the unus mundus in the Jung-Pauli formulation or as the analogous implicate order in the framing of physicist David Bohm and his colleagues. Kuhnian anomalies such as the role of reflective consciousness in evolution, and phenomena including so-called “near death experiences” (NDEs), are considered from the perspective of dual-aspect monism in conjunction with an emerging evolutionary panentheism.


Volume 17(2), pp. 171-186

A Murder of White Crows: Additional Cases of Unequivocal Spontaneous Psi


Abstract: This paper is a follow-up to my article ‘White Crows Rising: Using Spontaneous Cases to Prove Psi’ (Stokes, 2017). In that paper, I argue that the existence of psi phenomena may be better established through certain types of spontaneous cases than through overall significance testing in statistical meta-analyses of psi experiments. Tests of overall significance in traditional meta-analyses are based on the assumption that the database is free from fraud and data selection. In these times of revealed high levels of questionable scientific practices, this assumption is untenable, both in parapsychology and in the wider scientific community, including biomedical research and experimental psychology. In the ‘White Crows’ article, I proposed the category of “Unequivocal Spontaneous Psi” (USP) to describe cases that, if the reported events actually occurred, cannot be plausibly explained by normal processes, such as coincidence, sensory cues, false memory, unconscious inferences, and the like. In this paper, I present 20 cases of possible USP. Thirteen of them are drawn from Louisa Rhine’s last book-length treatment of spontaneous psi (Rhine, 1981), and one from her earlier book Hidden Channels of the Mind (Rhine, 1961). Six additional cases that have been drawn from the recent literature.


Volume 17(2), pp. 187-206

“Sheet Happens!” Advancing Ghost Studies in the Analytics Age


Abstract: This essay explores factors that arguably hinder progress in the domain of parapsychology that deals with ghostly episodes—apparitions, haunts and poltergeist-like outbreaks. An infatuation with gadgets and hardware, a sensationalized public image and a lack of consistent, cumulative theory-building all individually and collectively seem to constrain the active adoption and application of other approaches that are more concerned with ‘substance over style’. Indeed, this modern era of analytics opens new avenues in methodology and modeling. Examples of this potential are reviewed and discussed. Ultimately, it is proposed that multidisciplinary, collaborative research programs equally focused on psychometric and environmental variables are required to achieve a cohesive, scientific explanation for these phenomena.