2009: Volume 9

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology


Volume 9(1), pp. 5-31

Imagery Cultivation vs. Noise Reduction: Shamanic-Like Journeying as a Psi-Conducive Alternative to the Ganzfeld Protocol

Lance Storm & Adam J. Rock

ABSTRACT: Historically, psi effects have been linked to altered states of consciousness (ASCs; Bem & Honorton, 1994). In this context, arguably the most widely used technique is the Ganzfeld. However, in recent times, scholars (e.g., Alvarado, 1998; Braud, 2005; Scimeca, Boca, & Iannuzzo, 2001) have formulated cogent arguments that cast doubt on whether the Ganzfeld is, in fact, an ASC that is psi-conducive. Consequently, it may prove prudent to investigate other conditions that induce ostensible ASCs that are purportedly psi-conducive, and it would be wise to get feedback from test participants in these states. In this theoretical paper, we propose that psi effects may be enhanced (i.e., strengthened) using a shamanic-like treatment. On that basis, we argue that parapsychologists must go beyond the assumption that psi effects are optimised under conditions that are inherently passive procedures, and foster techniques that require cognitive action from test participants.


Volume 9(1), pp. 33-55

Consciousness and Quantum-Mechanical Wavefunctions

Ronald Bryan

ABSTRACT: I note the similarity of an electron’s wavefunction to a human consciousness in three examples: (i) The diffraction of an electron’s wavefunction by a double slit into two wavepackets and the reported location of a human consciousness in two separate regions of space; (ii) an electron wavefunction with spin-up and spin-down terms simultaneously and a person undecided on two possible courses of action; and (iii) two electrons’ wavefunctions entangled and identical human twins suffering the same pain while separated by thousands of miles. I hypothesize that the electron’s wavefunction and the human’s consciousness are so similar that the electron’s wavefunction is conscious and the human consciousness is a wavefunction. This marries consciousness with quantum mechanics. I suggest an experiment that might be due to a human conscious wavefunction’s interacting with an electron’s conscious wavefunction, namely, where a human volunteer attempts to mentally flip the spin of a lone electron. I give the details of such an atomic experiment. If successful, this phenomenon could be used to turn human thought into a PowerPoint message, projected onto a screen letter by letter.


Volume 9(1), pp. 57-69

Psychics vs. Non-Psychics in “Face-to-Face” and “Remote” Token-Object Reading Conditions

Alejandro Parra & Juan Carlos Argibay

ABSTRACT: Psychic reading is a method used to foretell the future of an individual. However, cold reading is a non-paranormal technique used by many self-claimed psychics and mediums to determine details about another person in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than he or she actually does. We wanted to explore some strategies for using and appraising the so-called “token-object” effect common in psychic reading. We planned to follow the design of our earlier research using a psychometry procedure with a sample of ordinary people (non-psychics) and a sample of self-claimed psychics. One of the aims of the study was to determine if the ‘psychics’ participants could give impressions while touching the objects of two sitters. The experiment was introduced to the participants by telling them that two different conditions, “face-to-face” and “remote” psychometry, were being undertaken using a physical object as psi-stimuli. The sample consisted of 83 participants. We concluded that those participants who claimed to have psychometry psi ability (“Psychic” group) showed greater psi hitting than “Non-Psychics” in both conditions (“remote” and “face-to-face”). Because face-to-face readings allow for sensory cues, no firm conclusion of “genuine” psi can be justified from such an experiment. Therefore we should treat this significant finding with caution.


Volume 9(1), pp. 71-95

Quantum BioEnergetics, Mental Boundaries, and Affective Response: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study

Fiona E. Permezel & Adam J. Rock

ABSTRACT: Previous research has demonstrated the effects of ostensible subtle energy on physical systems and subjective experience. However, one subtle energy technique that has been neglected by previous studies, despite anecdotal support for its efficacy, is Quantum BioEnergetics (QBE). Furthermore, personality traits that influence subtle energy effects remain unclear, and previous experimental studies have not investigated the constructs of Love and Joy, despite qualitative and anecdotal reports indicating that these variants of positive affect are essential elements of the subtle energy experience. The aim of the present study was to investigate experimentally the effects of QBE, and the personality trait Mental Boundaries, on positive and negative affect. Participants (N = 69) were administered the Boundary Questionnaire Short Form to quantify Boundaries, and then randomly assigned to one of three conditions: QBE, Placebo (“sham”), or Control. Affect was retrospectively assessed using the Positive and Negative Affect subdimensions of the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI). As predicted, a significant multivariate effect for condition was found with regards to the PCI subdimensions: Joy, Sexual Excitement, Love, Anger, Sadness, and Fear. In contrast to our expectations, a significant multivariate effect was not found for Boundaries with regards to the combined PCI-Affect variables. As hypothesized, significant interactions were found between condition and Boundaries with regards to Positive Affect, Love and Joy, with the QBE/Thin Boundaries factorial combination associated with the highest mean scores for these dependent variables. It will be prudent to ascertain whether these results are replicated in a larger sample and a placebo condition that improves on the standard randomized placebo-controlled protocols of previous subtle energy research.


Volume 9(1), pp. 97-109

Things That Go Bump, By Day and by Night: An Expectancy Effect?

Michael A. Thalbourne

ABSTRACT: This is a report of a further self-test using a Schmidt Random Number Generator—the tenth such study in the series. The experimenter-participant is prone to experiencing unusual percussive or vibratory phenomena (usually occurring in his feet or on his back). Hypothesising that a psi element may be involved, the experimenter-participant conducted 856 runs (100 binary trials each run) under six different conditions, before the percussive phenomena abruptly ceased. An early dramatic within-session decline effect led to the incorporation of a test for this effect in all sessions individually and combined. Magnitude scores were analyzed in addition to deviation scores. The main results were overall decline effects from the first-half of a session to the second-half of the session, for both types of score. In the case of magnitude scores, the second-half mean run-score was significantly below chance. The author attributes these effects to a general expectation of significant results.


Volume 9(1), pp. 111-142

Investigations of the I Ching: II. Reliability and Validity Studies

Lance Storm

ABSTRACT: In six studies on the I Ching—an ancient Chinese system of divination—successful predictions of first- and second-hexagrams (i.e., hexagram hitting) based on pre-selections of corresponding descriptor-pairs have ranged from chance, to significantly above chance. No significant effect below chance has ever been found. Hexagram hitting has been predicted by measures such as paranormal belief, time perspective, and meaningfulness. Storm (2008a) found a near-significant aggregate hexagram hit rate of 27%. Though these results are encouraging, there has been no assessment of the reliability and validity of the main test instrument used in the I Ching studies, the Hexagram Descriptor Form (HDF). To test the validity of the HDF, three control methods were tested against the experimental method. Taking first- and second-hexagram hit rates together, three out of 22 tests on the experimental method (14%) were significant or near-significant. Three significant or near-significant outcomes out of 66 control tests (4.5%) were attributed to chance. Inter-rater reliability was tested using two I Ching experts who judged the 64 descriptor-pairs of the HDF for suitability against their corresponding hexagram readings. The correlation between judges’ ratings was not significant (the mean rating ranged between 60% and 82%). Using the pooled data of six studies, the HDF was tested for possible selection and outcome biases. A selection bias was found, but no outcome biases were found. The I Ching and the HDF were considered suitable for parapsychological research.


Volume 9(2), pp. 149-163

Dream Manifestations: A Paranormal Experience?

Steven A. Trankle

ABSTRACT: The current research investigated the life-after-death (LAD) experience of a 30-year-old Australian female. The experient encountered somatosensory and auditory contact from her deceased father who woke her from the dream she was having of him. Analysis considered personality and social influences, and potential psychological explanations from Freudian, Gestalt, and Adlerian and Jungian perspectives. The experience was further evaluated theoretically with geophysical, biological and neurochemical determinants, all of which claim differing degrees of scientific support. Although a genuine LAD experience could not be refuted, the most scientifically plausible explanation identified Rapid Eye Movement (REM) extending into hypnopompic stages of sleep due to a delayed REM-off condition. But, other factors were identified as influencing the quality, timing and duration of REM and, thus, a definitive causal explanation remained elusive.


Volume 9(2), pp. 165-192

Shamanic-Like Journeying and Psi: I. Imagery Cultivation, Paranormal Belief, and the Picture-Identification Task

Lance Storm & Adam J. Rock

ABSTRACT: In a previous article (Storm & Rock, 2009) we proposed an imagery cultivation model to be at least as psi-conducive as the Ganzfeld, based on anthropological and parapsychological claims concerning alleged psi effects during shamanic practices. Imagery cultivation is associated with shamanic states during which state the percipient actively propagates or cultivates psi-related images. Since psi-modifying variables should also be investigated in psi research, paranormal belief/experience (as measured on Thalbourne’s, 1995, Australian Sheep-Goat Scale), and Transliminality (the tendency for psychological material to cross into or out of consciousness; see Thalbourne & Houran, 2000) were tested in the present study as possible predictors of psi. Non-shaman participants (N = 108) were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: (1) a control condition (n = 53) consisting of sitting quietly with eyes open; or (2) a treatment condition (n = 55) that involved shamanic-like journeying instructions followed by 15 minutes of monotonous drumming (8 b.p.s.). Participants were required to describe verbally, and then rank a randomly-selected concealed line-drawing, which they held throughout the condition. Number of direct hits (34.5% where PMCE = 25%) in the shamanic-like condition was significant, z = 1.66 (p = .048, one-tailed), but the hit rate for control-condition participants was at chance (22.6%, z = -0.40, p = .345, one-tailed). Post hoc, we found significant extreme effects—that is, preferences for ranks #1 and #4 independent of condition for the whole sample (N = 108, 65 hits, 60%, p = .042, two-tailed). Neither transliminality nor ASGS scores predicted hit rates.


 Volume 9(2), pp. 193-213

Mental Boundaries, Staring Detection and Phenomenology: A Synthesised Ganzfeld and Remote Staring Study

Lynette J. Ferris & Adam J. Rock

ABSTRACT: The sense of being stared at may be interpreted as a psi phenomenon. However, previous research has neglected to investigate this experience using a psi-conducive environment such as the Ganzfeld. Furthermore, the personality traits that influence the sense of being stared at remain unclear and previous studies have not investigated the phenomenological correlates of this phenomenon. The aim of the present study was, therefore, to synthesise Ganzfeld and remote staring methodology in order to experimentally investigate the effect of the Ganzfeld on the sense of being stared at. Personality and phenomenological correlates of the sense of being stared at were also examined. Forty “receivers” were administered the Short Boundary Questionnaire to quantify a personality trait referred to as mental boundaries. Receivers were randomly assigned to either a Ganzfeld or non-Ganzfeld condition, and administered 20 randomized staring/non-staring trials. Receivers’ phenomenology was retrospectively assessed using the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI). Only the hits (i.e., correct guesses) for the Ganzfeld/non-staring trials were significantly greater than MCE (i.e., mean chance expectation). There was not a significant main effect for the Ganzfeld/non-Ganzfeld factor with regards to hit rate, but there was a significant main effect for staring/non-staring. Furthermore, there was no significant interaction between these factors. The correlation between mental boundaries and staring hit rate approached significance. For the Ganzfeld group, both PCI-volitional control and PCI-rationality were significantly positively correlated with non-staring hit rate. For the non-Ganzfeld group, PCI-altered experience was significantly positively correlated with staring hit rate. Future research might use a complementary mixed-method to further investigate the phenomenology of a receiver’s sense of being stared at during Ganzfeld and non-Ganzfeld stimulus conditions.