Psi in the News



Two new e-books outlining current approaches to investigating the anomalous, Edge Realms contributor Conner Habib on Dr Eben Alexander’s NDE,  author Michael Tymn asks ‘Was William James a Wimp?’ and Dr. Steven Novella responds to Steven Volk’s critique of the James Randi Education Foundation Challenge in this edition of psi in the news.

  • Dr. Tim Brigham and I visited the University of West Georgia last week to meet with Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore, who is currently working on developing the concept of clinical approaches to exceptional experiences. We also had the opportunity to visit the William Roll Archive, which houses the research materials gathered by Dr. Roll in his investigations of poltergeist and psycho-kinetic phenomena. The Rhine Research Center’s newsletter has an article on William Roll, and John Kruth, Executive Director at the Rhine, mentioned that it is still available for free on the website pending the publication of the next newsletter, so read it while you can, or join the Rhine, and support their research, for full access! William Roll Memorial Edition of the Rhine Research Center Newsletter
  • Dr. Julie Beischel, Research Director at the Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential, has release an e-book titled Among Mediums: A Scientist's Quest for Answers, which introduces her work scientifically evaluating the experience of mediums and mediumistic phenomena. This is one of the best, and most approachable, introductions I’ve read on the current scientific understanding of mediumship. (Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential)
  • Jack Hunter, editor of the Paranthropology Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal, also has an e-book out, Why People Believe in Spirits, Gods & Magic, which he describes as “a beginner's introduction to the anthropology of the supernatural/paranormal.” (Paranthropology Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal)
  • Hunter also provides a recommended reading list for those interested in more information on the anthropology of anomalous experience. (Paranthropology Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal)
  • Paranthropology Vol. 4 No. 1 (January 2013), is now available for free download. This issue features contributions from Emma Ford, Leonardo Breno Martins, Simon Sherwood, David Luke, Simon Alexander Hardison, Christopher Laursen, Henry Dosedla, Angela Voss, Callum Cooper and Fiona Bowie. (Paranthropology Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal)
  • Robert Searle offers up some excerpts from Dr. T. J. Palmer’s fascinating thesis revisiting the work of Society of Psychical Research co-founder F.W.H. Myers. The thesis, titled "Revised Epistemology for an Understanding of Spirit Release Therapy Developed in accordance with the Conceptual Framework of F. W. H. Myers,” might have an intense name, but it presents an updated overview of the concept of spirit possession or obsession, and release, within the framework of contemporary therapy. (Esoteric Other Worlds)
  • Christopher Laursen is working on his PhD dissertation on the development of our contemporary theories of poltergeist phenomena, and would be interested in hearing personal stories from folks who’ve experience anomalous phenomena which fits the profile of those pesky “noisy spirits.” (Christopher Laursen)
  • Have you seen an apparition? Or had an apparitional experience? Aaron Lomas is working on a study to understand the circumstances and psychological factors that might be related to such experiences. (Survey Monkey)
  • Discovery News skeptic-in-residence and CSI Fellow, Ben Radford, discusses CSI’s pursuit of science contra chupacabra, and how investigating weeping madonnas, UFO’s and 9/11 theories qualifies them for critiquing scientific psi research. (CISCOP)
  • Matt Bille examines the differences between cryptozoology and parapsychology in reference to fortean author Nick Redfern’s latest book Monster Diary. (Matt’s Sci/Tech Blog)
  • Nick Redfern responds to Bille’s critique with a call to change the definition of cryptozoology. (Cryptomundo)
  • Scientific parapsychologists around the world cringe at being written about in the same space as “bigfoot hunters” in multiple articles published around the same time. ;) 
  • Author and physician Dr. Elisa Medhus explores why life after death has suddenly become a hot topic in the cultural conversation. (Huffington Post)
  • Funeral director Caleb Wilde asks a pertinent question, can we chemically induce Near Death Experiences?  (Confessions of a Funeral Director)
  • Dr. Eben Alexander talks to Don Imus on his show Imus in the Morning about his recent book, Proof of Heaven, and coming back from a Near-Death Experience. (Fox Business)
  • If it can be developed, one of the more potent possibilities in psi research is energy healing and distance healing. Over on the Life in B Flat blog the author gives us”a way to practice self healing, distant healing, and healing” through a theoretical synthesis of spiritual healing and Qi. (Life in B Flat
  • In Thomas Nagel’s latest book Mind & Cosmos (Oxford Univ. Press) he sets out to explore the idea that our consciousness may not be a material phenomena. Malcolm Thorndike Nicholson defends him against the nay-sayers in a review aptly titled, Thomas Nagel’s Not Crazy. (Prospect Magazine
  • Previous Psi in the News columns have featured stories on how technology is catching up with our concepts of the hypothetical capabilities of psi and telepathy. What about precognition? Kim Zetter, writing for Wired: Threat Level, discusses how, in a Philip K. Dick’ian development, some U.S. cities are using software to predict murders. (Wired)
  • Fellow Edge Realms contributor, Conner Habib, explores Eben Alexander’s NDE, and the important question of objectivity in science, and what constitutes proof in areas of anomalous experience. (Reality Sandwich)
  • Steve Volk, author of Fringe-ology,  discusses Sam Harris’ views on free will and materialist meat puppets. (Steve Volk)
  • Egil Asprem, whose work bridges parapsychology and esoteric philosophy via the history of science,  tackles Rupert Sheldrake’s latest book The Science Delusion (or Science Set Free, depending on what side of Atlantic you are on.) (Heterodoxology)
  • A few notes on the history, and proper use, of the planchette (ie. that little triangle thingy on the Ouija board.) (Chasing Down Emma)
  • Are we on the verge of no longer comparing our brains to the inventions produced by our brains? Teeming Brain founder & editor, Matt Cardin, on the death of the “brain as computer” metaphor. (The Teeming Brain)
  • We’re already struggling with copyright issues pertaining to digital information, what happens when we start copywriting models of anomalous experience? (The Owl’s Watch)
  • Mariano Grinbank provides an extensive review of Dr. Jeffrey Kripal’s Mutants & Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal (Examiner)
  • Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential presents a research brief on determining the impact of Psi experimenter effects. (Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential)
  • TEDx events have been providing an interesting space for new ideas to get out into the wider conversation. Here are two TEDx talks featuring Dr. Casandra Vieten, Executive Director of Research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. (IONS
  • Although contemporary research in anomalous experiences is quite advanced, it’s always good to look at past beliefs regarding the phenomena to aid in understanding. Here is a paper on wraiths, revenants and ritual in medieval culture that discusses some past beliefs about the dead. (Medievalists)
  • Our understanding is also broadened by examining how other cultures interact with anomalous experiences, as shown by this fascinating account of spirit possession in Uganda. (Neurocritic)
  • Media coverage of Dr. Eben Alexander’s book Proof of Heaven, has moved the NDE experience into the realm of religious rhetoric, but what of distressing Near Death Experiences and their relationship to ancient narratives of descent and initiation? Barbara Croner & Sheila Joshi explore the darker side of the NDE. (Dancing Past the Dark)
  • More on the dark side of NDEs, Dr. Penny Sartori, a former nurse and current NDE researcher, discusses frightening or unpleasant Near Death Experiences. (Dr. Penny Satori)
  • Jacqui Dillon, national Chair of the Hearing Voices Network in England, discusses the ‘Hearing Voices Movement,’ and some of the changes that are occuring in the Western culture’s understanding of what constitutes normal vs. abnormal psychological states. (Mad in America)
  • Christopher Laursen interviews historians Ingrid Kloosterman and Wim Kramer on their research into the origins and development of psychical research in the Netherlands. (Extrodinarium)
  • We often hear references to the psychologist William James’ support of psychical research, however author Michael Tymn asks the biting question, was William James a wimp when it came to the question of conscious survival after death? (White Crow Books
  • Do scientists fear the paranormal? Ben Radford says no, they do not, and discusses some of the attempts to replicate Daryl Bem’s precognition studies. Why they chose a UFO picture for the article is unclear. (Livescience)
  • Clinical neurologist, and skeptic, Dr. Steven Novella, responds to Steven Volk’s critique of the James Randi Education Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge. (Neurologica
  • In a moment of reckless abandon I decide to weigh in on the JREF Challenge as well, and in the process end up writing an awkward love letter to the skeptic community. (Disinfo.com
  • Psychological Anthropologist Dr. Tanya Luhrmann discusses how cultural conditioning can change the way we view anomalous mental states. (Wired)
  • Author Richard Holland introduces us to Frederick George Lee, vicar of Lambeth in London, and forgotten English ghost hunter.  (Spooky Isles)
  • Dr. Richard J. Davidson, Psychology and Psychiatry Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison says that meditation should be considered a valid form of medical treatment based on the recent studies showing that the practice leads to beneficial physiological changes. (St. Joe Channel)
  • Dr. Charles Emmons,  Gettysburg College, discusses his academic career and some of the challenges he has faced working in areas related to anomalous experiences. (Everyday Spirituality)
  • University College London is hosting a conference on Psychical Research and Parapsychology in the History of Medicine and the Sciences January 25-27, 2013. (UCL)
  • Dr. Jim Carpenter will be giving a presentation on his First Sight Theory of psi to the C. G. Jung Society in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (First Sight Book)
  • Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D., Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia, announces the upcoming conference of the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies. (Parapsychological Association)
  • Dr. Penny Sartori discusses frightening or unpleasant Near Death Experiences. (Dr. Penny Satori)
  • Writing for the James Randi Education Foundation,  Dr. Karen Stollznow critiques the television show The Dead Files. (JREF)
  • Robert Searle discusses his developing theory of Psycho-Electronic Connection Testing, and methods for seeing the unseen. (Esoteric Other Worlds)
  • Although loathed by skeptics, reports of anomalous experiences are an important part of the research into these phenomena. These reports often come from those working in hospitals and other environments where high stress and mortality mix. Here is one from a Reddit RSS of nurses reporting odd events that have occured on their shifts. (Life in B Flat)
  • Dr. Graham Kidd reviews the Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness Anthology, and misspells my name! (SPR)
  • Author Michael Prescott reviews  The Afterlife Interviews, Volume 1, by Jeffrey A. Marks. (Michael Prescott)
  • Robert McLuhan reviews Michael Tymn’s latest book on the medium Lenora Piper, and evidence for survival of consciousness after death. (Paranormalia)
  • Dr. Joseph S. Maresca reviews The Paranormal Equation: A New Scientific Perspective On Remote Viewing, Clairvoyance and Other Inexplicable Phenomena by Dr. James D. Stein (Blog Critics)
  • For more on the book, listen to Dr. James Stein on the Russell Scott Show. (Before it’s News)
  • One of the major hurdles in psi research is a working model, Robert Searle presents his vision of Multi-Dimensional Science. (P2P Foundation)
Note: Special thanks to Tom Ruffles, Soc. for Psychical Research, Jack Hunter, Paranthropology Journal, Iona Miller, and Matt Staggs, Editor at Disinfo.com, for a number of links included in this edition of Reality Sandwich’s Psi-in-the-News.