2005: Volume 5

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology

Volume 5(1), pp. 4-22

Why Parapsychology is Amongst the Most Important of the Sciences


ABSTRACT: It is with the full realisation of my own inadequacies, that I examine the implications for scientific endeavour of a subject that I believe to be of the utmost importance, both philosophically and in possible practical application.  So much and yet so little is known: so much because a vast body of evidence has accumulated over more than a century; and so little because of this knowledge base’s limited ability to withstand critical scientific analysis. The discipline is, of course, a subject originally with philosophical and theological bases, a metaphysical concept and a religious exercise, that Max Dessoir in 1889 termed the science of “parapsychology”.

Volume 5(1), pp. 23-39

Automatic Writing Revisited


ABSTRACT: The topic of automatic writing immediately elicits the question: Discarnate authorship or “subconscious imagination”? The present essay argues that the Oahspe bible, for which Dr. John Ballou Newbrough (JBN) stood as “amanuensis”, could not have been written by a mortal mind, but only by human hands acting as instrument of a higher power. Newbrough’s own descriptions of the experience (the speed of the typing, the veritable army of communicators, etc.) may help the student sort out the real from the imagined prodigy. And although classed as mental mediumship, the event was arguably telekinetic. The doctor, however, had to undergo ten years of study and discipline to bar the influence of his own thinking, followed by another ten years’ training and purification to sharpen his “etheric” sight and perceptiveness. The writing was done each day at dawn, that early hour selected as the most propitious time for clairvoyance.

Volume 5(1), pp. 40-58

A New Theory on Place Memory


ABSTRACT: Place memory appears to involve the storage of information by the environment, which can be retrieved through paranormal means. This concept has been around since the inception of parapsychology. In recent years, it has been generally accepted that it is the living, not the dead, that appear somehow to be involved in the creation of place memory. Unfortunately, although some theories have been proposed for how place memory works, none of them are definitive. Heath (2004) recently proposed that it might aid our understanding of the phenomenon to consider the possibility that there may be two ways by which place memory is created – one active, through psychokinesis, and the other ‘passive,’ occurring more often with proximity, recency, and frequency of repetition. The theory is discussed that resonance might be the mechanism of action for the creation of ‘passive’ place memory. Furthermore, recent advances in physics would suggest that this information, regardless of its method of creation, might not require any special “psi-field,” but could be stored via the configuration of the atomic electron cloud and the geometric structure of molecules, including water.

Volume 5(1), pp. 97-118

Technical Paper No. 8

Perceptual and Memory Capabilities of Witnesses to Anomalous Visual Phenomena


ABSTRACT: The perceptual and memory capabilities of witnesses to anomalous visual phenomena (AVP) were examined in four experiments. Experiments 1 and 2 tested witnesses’ abilities to access explicit and implicit memory, Experiment 3 explored witnesses’ abilities to discriminate between genuine and abstract objects, and Experiment 4 examined witnesses’ propensity to misidentify fragmented objects. No differences were found between witnesses and non-witnesses on any task. Nevertheless, a number of medium-and large-sized effects emerged. Together, these suggested that had power been greater, witnesses would have been shown to (1) require less time than non-witnesses to recall specific memories, (2) be more likely to identify abstract objects as legitimate, (3) require fewer presentations to identify fragmented and ambiguous objects and (4) be more likely to misidentify these same objects. Some evidence was also produced to suggest witnesses may actually outperform non-witnesses on the implicit memory task. Overall, the findings provide weak support for the involvement of perceptual and memory variables in the perception of AVP.

Volume 5(2), pp. 123-139

The Marriage of Parapsychology and Normal Psychology

Michael A. Thalbourne

ABSTRACT: I would like to begin by sharing with you an anecdote—in fact a coincidence. Unfortunately I have no dates for the two halves of this coincidence, but let that not  cause us to dismiss it out of hand.  Thus, it was some years ago that I happened to wonder to myself at one time the strange thought of whether a decapitated head continued to have consciousness for a while. It so happened that, at the time, I was reading the beginning of Nandor Fodor’s (1966) An Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science, scouring it for terms that I might include in my second edition A Glossary of Terms Used in Parapsychology. I recall that I did not advance very far into this book, but came at length to the entry under “Community of Sensation”, an old expression used in hypnosis to refer to a sort of sensory telepathy between hypnotist and subject, or, as we shall see, between the subject and another person. And almost before I realised it, there was the following text as a bizarre example of community of sensation.

Volume 5(2), pp. 140-148

Technical Paper No. 9

Chemical Induction of Precognitive Dreams

F. de Pablos

ABSTRACT: Rivastigmine, a potent partially reversible Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor used in the treatment of Alzheimer Disease, enhances both memory and REM sleep. It has been postulated that besides those normal properties it could also favour retrograde dream formation, i.e., precognitive dreaming. An experiment was carried out with 10 normal participants, in a double blind design – five participants ingested 0.3 mg of Rivastigmine and five participants were on Placebo – over a period of ten consecutive nights. Participants recorded the dreams that they had during those nights. They were also instructed to write a life event protocol containing significant daily events. A longitudinal matching design between dreams and future daily events allowed the researcher to find positive matches between dreams and life-events that could be regarded as indicating precognition. Data comparison between the Rivastigmine and Placebo groups yielded two significant effects: (1) Rivastigmine increased dream productivity as measured by the number of dreaming episodes; (2) Rivastigmine increased precognitive dreaming as measured by the number of dream/future-event matches.

Volume 5(2), pp. 149-164

Technical Paper No. 10

Psi Test Feats Achieved Alone at Home: Do they Disappear under Lab Control?

Suitbert Ertel

ABSTRACT: Extraordinary hit-rates from multiple-choice tests, obtained by participants alone in their homes, are ambiguous. On the one hand, their feats might in fact reflect psi power manifesting itself better under informal home than under formal lab conditions. Yet hit surpluses obtained without lab control might also be due to negligent or fraudulent conduct. One way out of this dilemma is to let participants run psi tests at home and to invite high scorers thereafter to do additional runs under lab control. This strategy has been endorsed using N = 238 (Sample 1) and N = 47 (Sample 2) of student participants. Sample 1 took the ball-selection test (version I). Fifty numbered table tennis balls (10 of each, numbered 1 to 5) are drawn from an opaque bag. Participants guess and draw out numbered balls blind, recording the data as they go (PMCE = 0.20). Participants put drawn balls back into the bag and they shake the bag prior to each trial. One test unit consisted of six or eight runs comprising 60 trials each (total: 360 or 480 trials). Sixteen high scoring participants of Sample 1 were also tested under lab control, again using ball test procedure (version I). Sample 2 took the ball-selection test (version II). This test resembles ball test I in almost every respect except that green or red dots are sprinkled over the balls, and participants guess numbers (five targets) and colours (two targets; MCE = 10%). Thirteen high-scorers of Sample 2 were also tested under lab control using the bead-selection test where each participant draws one of five colours (no numbers, MCE = 0.20). It was hypothesised that (i) hit-rates of high scorers in home tests decline (due to less psi-conducive conditions under lab control and regression towards the mean), and (ii) hit-rates of high scorers under lab control are still significantly above chance (due to genuine psi as was effective at home). Both hypotheses were confirmed with Sample 1 and replicated with Sample 2. Three participants obtained significantly higher hit-rates under lab control compared with their home performance. The issue of fraud and bias loses relevance in view of such findings. It is recommended that the first-home-then-lab-test strategy be introduced into parapsychological research on a broader scale.