2002: Volume 2

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology

Vol. 2(1), pp. 2-18

Belief in, and Alleged Experience of, the Paranormal in Ostensible UFO Abductees


ABSTRACT: It has often been asserted anecdotally that the UFO phenomenon is associated with reports of the paranormal. Thus far a statistical study has not been conducted. In the present research, a measure of belief in and alleged experience of the paranormal – the 18-item forced-choice Australian Sheep-Goat Scale – was administered to 21 self-selected ostensible UFO abductees and their responses com-pared with those of a control group – 301 students. It was found that abductees reported significantly greater belief in, and alleged experience of, the paranormal (ESP, PK and life after death). The anecdotal reports were thus confirmed. However, it should not be concluded until more research is carried out that the abductees are necessarily more psychic.

Vol. 2(1), pp. 19-27

Is Scientific Investigation of Postmortem Survival an Anachronism? The Demise of the Survival Hypothesis


ABSTRACT: The survival hypothesis, or the notion of postmortem survival, has been a key domain of parapsychological research since the inception of the Society for Psychical Research in the late nineteenth century. Parapsychologists nevertheless have made no definitive progress toward the verification of the survival hypothesis, and the continued centrality of this issue to parapsychology is a major impediment to the acceptance of the field as a scientific enterprise. A redefinition of parapsychology and the relegation of the survival hypothesis to minor status are advocated.

Vol. 2(1), pp. 28-36

Scepticism and Credulity


ABSTRACT: Though scientific thinking has been in vogue since the seventeenth century, it represents only a minority view, and is essentially sceptical. The majority of mankind adopts a credulous attitude towards natural phenomena. The extremely sceptical and the extremely credulous have many psychological characteristics in common and both may be unreliable in assessing occasional phenomena.

Vol. 2(1), pp. 37-43

Examining Macro-Psychokinetic Experiments


ABSTRACT: This paper deals with a method of creating macro-PK results in a replicable format. The methodology is referred to as “table-tilting”, though in older literature it may also be called “table-moving”. We present the information in two parts: the first part deals with a brief history of the phenomena, whilst the second part deals with our own experiments. Rather than simply give our opinion on some of the original experiments, we will give the verbatim accounts presented in the various literature of the time.

Vol. 2(1), pp. 44-62

Technical Paper No. 2

A Parapsychological Investigation of the I Ching: Seeking Psi in an Ancient Chinese System of Divination


ABSTRACT: The Chinese book of divination, the I Ching, has been used in two studies that featured an unorthodox use of the system (L. Storm & M. A. Thalbourne, 1998-1999, 2001a). Both studies (N1 = 93; N2 = 107), tested participants on 2 paranormal tasks using 3 coins: (a) generation of a hexagram (a six-line symbol with associated reading or ‘fortune’), and (b) generation of changing lines (gained by throwing 3-of-a-kind using 3 coins). The hexagram hit-rates (i.e., ‘hitting’) in both studies were significantly above chance, but the number of changing lines in both studies was not. In Storm and Thalbourne’s (1998-1999) initial study, a number of significant parapsychological correlations were found, but in Storm and Thalbourne’s (2001a) second study none of these correlations replicated. In a re-analysis of the data (see Storm & Thalbourne, 2001b), the 2 samples were pooled to form a larger sample (N1+N2 = 200). There was a return to significance in all but one correlation. Psychological correlations of transliminality with each of four 16PF factors replicated. The present article describes a third I Ching study using University of Adelaide psychology II students (N3 = 43) who took part in a practical in their psychology course. There were no significant paranormal findings, but 5 psychological correlations replicated for a third time. Pooling the new data with the earlier larger sample (N1+N2 = 200) and subsequent re-analysis of that data (N1+N2+N3 = 243) showed a return to significant results in virtually all tests.

Vol. 2(2), pp. 85-96

“Out-of-Body Experiences” (OBEs) and Brain Localisation. A Perspective


ABSTRACT: Blanke et al. reported in Nature magazine how stimulating the right angular gyrus in a patient with a right temporal seizure focus with a 4mA or 5mA current, produced transitory out-of-body experiences (OBEs) involving seeing either legs or arms disappearing when she attempted to “inspect the illusory body or body part.” Despite their reporting that changes in visual attention and/or current amplitude in the angular gyrus could explain the “phenomenological modification”, this finding produced significant press interest, as a site for the OBE was postulated. This brief paper puts this and similar findings into perspective: (1) The OBE described appears atypical for the type of subjective OBE described by Subjective Paranormal Experients (SPEs). (2) The likely pathological angular gyrus in this patient cannot be compared with that area in normal individuals. (3) Generalisation of this one case to other humans is not warranted. (4) Additionally, a previous second case suggests more than one locality for provoking an OBE by electrocortical stimulation. When analysing comparable phenomena such as déjà vu and memory, no single localisation can be found. (5) Even when findings on subjective paranormal experiences (SPEs) including OBEs are referable to specific anomalous brain functioning, they neither confirm nor deny the veridicality of the SPEs. These may have endogenous origins within the brain like pathological hallucinations do; or a particular brain function pattern may allow experience of an outside, usually covert, reality. (6) At least four distinct nosological subtypes of déjà vu exist. Similar research on OBEs needs to be performed to demonstrate the likely subtypes that exist. Methodologically, associative links do not imply causality. To consolidate the causality hypothesis, one should analyse SPEs and also the converse, like temporal lobe epileptic subjects. The reductionistic fallacy of OBEs being fully explained purely on the basis of stimulating a specific area of the brain is not tenable.

Vol. 2(2), pp. 97-124

Technical Paper No. 3

Analysis of Haunt Experiences at a Historical Illinois Landmark


ABSTRACT: Previous questionnaire and field research shows that the report and phenomenology of haunt experiences correlate with a number of perceptual-personality variables, suggesting that processes related to a shifting and focusing of attention mediate who will have an experience and who will not. There is additional evidence to suggest that Psychological Experiences and the perception of Physical Manifestations in haunts are mediated by different perceptual-personality variables. An investigation of a reported haunt at a historic mansion was conducted to conceptually replicate these findings, as well as to determine the relation of haunt experiences to aesthetic and environmental factors at the site. Twenty ‘experimentally-blind’ participants completed a battery of psychological measures and then visited three target and seven control areas. For each area, participants documented any anomalies they experienced on a checklist. The location of participants’ experiences corroborated independent witness accounts at the site, although participants also reported experiences at control areas. Consistent with earlier findings, the number of discrete experiences and the number of different categories of experience both correlated strongly with Participant Expectation and Traditional Paranormal Beliefs. However, Psychological Experiences and Physical Manifestations were not mediated by different sets of psychological factors. Basic features of the test areas showed no association with the cumulative pattern of participants’ reports. The probability of having a haunt experience might therefore derive from a noise-to-signal ratio. In this sense, perceptual-personality variables merely facilitate the perception of stimuli that produce haunt experiences, rather than inspiring witness reports. The haunt stimuli themselves in this case remain unidentified, but seem to be distributed probabilistically throughout the site.