2006: Volume 6

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology

Volume 6(1), pp. 5-20

A Discussion of the Evidence that Personal Consciousness Persists After Death with Special Reference to Poltergeist Phenomena

ABSTRACT: Humans have a dual mind, the mind of the left hemisphere and the mind of the right hemisphere. The left hemisphere has an organ for language and when awake can be conscious of things with linguistic labels. The right hemisphere is good at operating with mental images as in dreams. The functions of the right hemisphere include extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. However, the findings that have been advanced in favour of the idea that personality survives death have mostly been discussed in terms of the continuation of the left mind. This paper explores the pro and cons of this approach.

Volume 6(1), pp. 21-34

Human Levitation

ABSTRACT: Human levitation occurs when the physical body rises into the air seemingly in defiance of the force of gravity. Traditionally most levitation reports have originated from seven groups: (i) mysticism, (ii) shamanism, (iii) people supposedly possessed by demonic spiritual entities, (iv) those subjected to poltergeist activity, (v) Spiritualism, (vi) people who believe they have been abducted by aliens, and (vii) martial arts such as qigong. So far almost no scientific research appears to have been conducted into this phenomenon. In order to persuade empirical scientists that human levitation warrants further investigation, this qualitative study contains two components. First, there is a thematic comparison of historical and modern levitation reports from the seven groups to see what physical, cultural and phenomenological circumstances they may have in common. Three kinds of evidence have been examined: general features of the seven groups; interviews with a sample of Christian priests and pastors, Spiritualists and qigong instructors; and interviews with six people who claim to have levitated. Second, to assist future researchers in their investigations, the present article includes a hypothesis-generating exercise that seeks clues from the thematic comparison and interviews as to how human levitation might work.

Volume 6(1), pp. 35-53

Technical Paper No. 11

 Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology: I. The Ganzfeld Domain


 ABSTRACT: The present article is a review of the ganzfeld meta-analytic literature. It is found that significant results were obtained in all but one ganzfeld meta-analysis that of J. Milton and R. Wiseman (1999). However, with combinatorial re-construction of the available databases and the uncovering of 11 studies overlooked by Milton and Wiseman, L. Storm and S. Ertel (2001) reconfirmed that the ganzfeld was still the paradigm that delivered one of the highest effect sizes of all the experimental domains in parapsychology. More recent studies support this finding. Parapsychologist and pioneer of ganzfeld research, Charles Honorton (Honorton, 1985) said that the ganzfeld demonstrates a “significant psi effect” (p. 81), and the evidence in the present article supports that claim.

Volume 6(1), pp. 54-80

 Technical Paper No. 12

Quasi-Experimental Study of Transliminality, Vibrotactile Thresholds, and Performance Speed


 ABSTRACT: Transliminality has been hypothesised to derive from weak or erratic cognitive mechanisms that are responsible for the active suppression (or gating) of irrelevant information from consciousness. It was therefore expected in a test of vibrotactile sensitivity that (i) individuals with high transliminality scores (HT) have lower thresholds than individuals with low transliminality scores (LT), (ii) the HT group take less time than the LT group to obtain a threshold, (iii) and the presence of a stimulus that competes for attention increases the time and thresholds of the HT group to a greater extent than those of the LT group. Fifty participants (17 HTs, 33 LTs) completed three repetitions of threshold testing using the CASE IV System while exposed to each of four competing auditory conditions (two Intensity x two Complexity). Results confirmed predictions, but only the intensity of the competing stimulus, rather than its relative complexity, interfered with the vibrotactile thresholds of the HT group.


Volume 6(2), pp. 114-124

Reincarnation Beliefs of the Gumini People of the Simbu Province of Papua New Guinea


ABSTRACT: This article describes the traditional reincarnation belief system of the Guminis, a small group of people living in the southeast of the Simbu Province of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. This system embraces the belief that the spirit of some humans is, after death, reincarnated within the body of another living person of similar age and probably of the same sex as the deceased. This person, a stranger, then represents the continuation of the life of the person who died in terms of his/her social and kinship relationships. It is demonstrated that this belief system was functional in traditional Gumini society, but may not continue to be so in future due to rapid changes in rural and urban life currently affecting the people of Papua New Guinea.


 Volume 6(2), pp. 125-134

From Dreams to (Virtual) Reality: Exploring Behavioural Embodiment in Out-Of-Body Experients


ABSTRACT: Recent research has indicated that the body experience of people who report a prior out-of-body experience (OBErs) is qualitatively different on a number of body-image variables to that of non-experients (non-OBErs). The present study examined OBErs and non-OBErs Behavioural Embodiment during immersion in a Virtual Reality system. It was hypothesised that OBErs would, compared with non-OBErs, exhibit a disembodied behavioural interaction with the Virtual Environment (VE), characterised by the proportion of time spent navigating the environment from an elevated position and the number of collisions with virtual objects. It was also hypothesised that OBErs would score higher on measures of absorption, dissociation and somatoform dissociation. There were no significant differences between OBErs (n = 16) and non-OBErs (n = 28) on Behavioural Embodiment (i.e., the proportion of time spent navigating the environment from an elevated position and the number of collisions with virtual objects), although there was a positive correlation with number of OBEs and proportion of trial time spent navigating the environment from an elevated position. OBErs were found to score significantly higher than the non-OBErs on measures of absorption, dissociation and somatoform dissociation.


 Volume 6(2), pp. 135-155

Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology: II. Psi Domains other than Ganzfeld


ABSTRACT: The present article completes the two-part review on meta-analyses in parapsychology (for Part I, see L. Storm, 2006). The reviewed literature other than ganzfeld/autoganzfeld studies, includes meta-analyses on: (i) biological systems (DMILS), (ii) forced-choice ESP, (iii) free-response ESP, (iv) dice-throwing, (v) micro-PK (RNG), and (vi) dream-psi. Meta-analyses by T. R. Lawrence (1993), E. Haraldsson (1993), and R. G. Stanford and A. G. Stein (1994) are also reviewed. Results indicate that these meta-analyses provide considerable evidence that there is an anomalous effect in the field of parapsychology in need of an explanation. It is concluded that these and other meta-analyses in parapsychology have revealed significant non-zero effects across studies, although these tend to be rather small, but process-oriented research will further our understanding of these anomalies.


Volume 6(2), pp. 156-166

Belief in, and Alleged Experience of, the Paranormal in the Portuguese Population


ABSTRACT: Belief in, and alleged experience of, the paranormal in the Portuguese population were gauged via a random telephone survey of 750 persons, using a Portuguese version of the 18-item forced-choice Australian Sheep-Goat Scale (Thalbourne, 1995).  Belief and experience tended to be on the low side, as shown both by the low average scores obtained for each of the 18 individual items and by the tendency of Scale-scores to occur at the low end of the range. There were significant and moderate correlations with selected other variables such as belief in reincarnation and claimed recall of a previous life, and significant but rather weak correlations with belief in astrology and religious variables.


 Volume 6(2), pp. 167-185

ESP under the Ganzfeld, in Contrast with the Induction of Relaxation as a Psi-Conducive State


ABSTRACT: Ganzfeld stimulation is associated with an increase in attention to internal imagery. Investigators have suggested the association with a view to developing an “experimental hypnagogic” technique in order to facilitate the study of hypnagogic imagery. The present experiment uses a telepathy-focused, non-ganzfeld condition, the findings of which were compared to the ganzfeld technique, in counter-balanced order. One hundred and thirty-eight participants attended two GESP trials at the Institute for Paranormal Psychology, in Buenos Aires. The majority of the participants (93.5%) reported previous personal experiences suggestive of psi. The first author was the experimenter and the second author was the sender for the entire sample. Two questionnaires were administered before, and one after, the ganzfeld session, to evaluate mental activity, bodily changes, pleasant experiences, and change in state of awareness. A CD-R containing 3,500 high-resolution colour pictures was used to provide image-targets. We would conclude that this experiment offered some support to the claim that ganzfeld stimulation is psi-conducive, to the extent that there was a significant difference between the two test conditions, in a direction favouring the ganzfeld condition. Expected percentage of hits was 25%. The ganzfeld gave 41.3% hits, p < .001, the non-ganzfeld 27.5%, and the difference between the two conditions was also significant, p = .016. No relationship was found between prior psi experiences and ESP scores. Nevertheless, we did not conclude that the “good” ESP results using ganzfeld were related to a modified state of consciousness because these results might depend upon other variables independent of the non-ordinary state.


Volume 6(2), pp. 186-191

Research Note: A Statistical Test of the ‘Library Angel’


ABSTRACT: The term “Library Angel” was apparently coined by Arthur Koestler (Hardy, Harvie & Koestler, 1973, pp. 161-166). It is a coincidence “where a combination of serendipity and intuition appears to be operating to find [exceedingly relevant] books or source references” (Inglis, 1990, p. 8). Jane Henry (1993) gives a slightly different interpretation: “for example, after searching high and low for a reference one gives up, only to find that it ‘magically’ appears, perhaps falling off a shelf in front of one” (p. 98). I shall give the reader a personal example from my 1997 collection of book coincidences on the Internet entitled Bridge.