2021: Volume 21

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology


Volume 21(1), pp. 7-30

Dark or Paranormal Tourism: A Major Attraction Throughout History


Abstract: Modern travel-tourism can be traced back to historical pilgrimages to “sacred or enchanted” places that were imbued with an aura of holiness, mystery, or the supernatural. Such excursions did not focus solely on sites in nature, special buildings, or religio-cultural festivals but included quests to see holy persons, relics, and people with real or imaginary ‘magical powers’. We discuss the nature of the general attraction to sacred spaces, which can be classified either as natural occurring places or created holy spaces. While this fascination is an expression of a continuation of ancient traditions, the business of dark-paranormal tourism has thrived within today’s secular societies arguably due to humankind’s loss of spirituality. This dark side of the unknown—including the great mystery of death—attracts many people on a superficial level via activities like the commercialization of Halloween, ‘Black’ guides, ghost tours, and paranormal entertainment media. Modern illusionists performing in more ‘real-world’ environments likewise operate in the twilight between trickery, double-bluffs, and more rarely, the truth. Against this background the ongoing tourist attraction of the ‘paranormal, trickery, and horror’ can be interpreted as the pursuit for a lost magic and spiritual worldview—a search in the proverbial dark for some form of cosmic light.


Volume 21(1), pp. 31-64

Reincarnation Research: II. Independent Investigators and a Multi-Trait/Multi-Method Approach


Abstract: This two-part article provides an update on recent work (including investigators and their work profiles) in the field of reincarnation research. While reincarnation is a very old concept predating history, 21st century methods for studying it are now present, though little appreciated. Researchers of reincarnation mainly come from the field of parapsychology, but numerous journalists, authors and educated lay-people regularly contribute to the field as well. This article explores the various approaches investigators take in collecting evidence for reincarnation phenomena. These include Child-Memory Cases, Hypnotic Regression Cases, and Medium and Intuition Derived Cases. Here, in Part Two, I contrast Stevenson’s forensic Case Study method with that of Dr. Walter Semkiw’s Across Lifetimes Profile Matching, which indicates that people reincarnate into groups and that they tend to repeat facial features across lifetimes. Semkiw has compiled his own database of now close to 360 cases. I also describe how the Hypnosis/Regression Method differs from the two methods above. At present only a handful of investigators in the world conduct reincarnation research. I conclude that despite this limitation, the field will advance more quickly and definitively in the upcoming years as the now-disparate groups start to set aside their prejudices and collaborate. A Multi-Trait/Multi-Method approach may prove useful in such a collaboration.


Volume 21(1), pp. 65-90

DMT: It’s Dynamite! A Case Study Critically Exploring the Contemporary Scholarly Reporting of Dimethyltryptamine–Induced Spiritual Experiences


Abstract: Despite a number of legal setbacks during the 1970s, psychedelics and in particular dimethyltryptamine (DMT), is gaining in popularity in modern times. Recognising this resurgence, this case study will address the questions of: a) what are the DMT induced spiritual experiences as reported in the contemporary scholarly literature? and b) at which discrete points in time are these experiences reported to occur? Informing this study, a Google Scholar search was undertaken and 24 articles (i.e., cases explaining spiritual experiences with DMT) were identified. Four key kinds of experiences were recognised as: (a) dissolution of the ego and/or physical matter); (b) an expansion of consciousness; (c) contact; and (d) transformation. This study concludes with the prospect that psychedelic trips, be they good or bad, can offer the experiencers tremendous spiritual insights when their journeys are taken with respectful intent.


Volume 21(2), pp. 128-162

A ‘Multi-Event Sensor App’ (MESA 3.0) for Environmental Studies of Exceptional Human Experiences


Abstract: A systems (or biopsychosocial) model hypothesizes that exceptional human experiences—and notably those related to localized areas of high-strangeness—represent the right people in the right settings (e.g., Laythe et al., 2021). However, quality big data are arguably needed from externally-valid conditions to understand the evolutionary-environmental variables that might contribute to the onset or contents of these phenomena. Guided by pertinent literature reviews, we accordingly developed an Android based mobile application (i.e., ‘app’) that simultaneously measures: (a) electromagnetic fields, (b) barometric pressure, (c) temperature, (d) lighting levels, and (e) gravity. Four different user modes produce time-synchronized (i.e., time-synced), distributional outputs that can be correlated with an embedded (and psychometrically valid) inventory of ‘subjective and objective’ anomalous experiences, as well as audio and photo documentation to test for possible anomalies or environmental Gestalt effects. The app’s reliability and usability are ideal for data collection across natural and built environments by both professional researchers and the abundance of motivated laypeople who can support in-field studies as citizen scientists.


Volume 21(2), pp. 164-182

Ecological Approaches to Scopaesthesia


Abstract: Scopaesthesia—the scientific term for ‘the sense of being stared at’—has been reported to have been experienced by between 70% to 90% of people in Europe and the USA when surveyed. Sheldrake (2003) presented such findings, discussions of early research, and preliminary field-based designs, which then translated into extensive laboratory-based work in the late 1980s. The results of Sheldrake’s work have presented highly significant results suggestive of potential psi processes at work that challenge materialist paradigms. Even though such studies employ experimental controls to explore potential psi processes, one could argue that they lack ecological validity since ‘staring detection’ seems to thrive in the chaos and spontaneity of real-world settings. This paper explores the need for ecological approaches to scopaesthesia and aims to show what could be gained from such efforts. Three field studies are discussed which, to the author’s knowledge, are the only known field-based approaches, with two being unpublished dissertation and thesis works.