NOW SERVING Psychedelic Culture

Ethnography of the afterlife, skeptics issue UK psychics a scientific challenge, presentiment, premonitions and a heaping helping of NDE, in this edition of Psi-in-the-News:

  • Healing Touch therapy, the role of memory in precognitive dream experience and a replication of Dean Radin’s presentiment studies are the subjects of study for 2012 PARE winning grant proposals. (Parapsychological Association)
  • The latest issue of Edge Science, the journal of the Society for Scientific Exploration, featuring contributions from William F. Bengston, Larry Dossey, Kenneth Smith, Michael Grosso and Rafael Locke, is now available. (SSE)
  • The October issue of Paranthropology is available as well, featuring contributions from Hillary S. Webb, Mark A. Schroll, Matt Cardin, Andy Letcher and Eugene Burger. (Paranthropology)
  • Fiona Bowie, director of the Afterlife Research Center, presents some interesting ideas for ethnographic explorations of the afterlife. (ARC)
  • Dr Tony Jinks from the Australian Institute of Parapsychological Research discusses that often asked question, “Parapsychology what is it?” on the Afternoons podcast with James Valentine. (ABC News Sydney)
  • 20/20 is featuring a segment on ‘premonitions,’ which will air on Friday, October 26th. (ABC News)
  • The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, and the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, of the Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation, published a paper in 2008 on an FMRI study looking for the ‘telepathy center’ of the brain. (Science 2.0)
  • Guardian UK blogger, Grrlscientist gets personal with a diatribe against Nobel laureate Brian Josephson, presenting him with the Nobel Prize for Quakpottery for his work in parapsychology and advanced physics. (Guardian UK)
  • Ben Radford reiterates his belief that results in parapsychological research remain inconclusive. (LiveScience)
  • Skeptics Chris C. French, Michael Marshall , and Simon Singh challenge UK psychics to put their abilities under the lense of scientific scrutiny with an experiment just in time for Halloween. (Guardian UK)
  • Chris C. French further outlines the reason for the experiment, in an expose on how lucrative fraud can be when you pretend to be psychic. (Guardian UK)
  • Researcher Marjaana Lindeman, at the University of Helsinki, Finland, discovers that skeptics suffer from a measurable perceptual bias. (Secular News Daily)
  • Can we rely on honest reporting from the media and academic critics of parapsychology? Michael Tymn discusses paid debunkers, and some of the problems with getting accurate information about psi studies into the public sphere. (White Crow Books)
  • In a two part article for Psychology Today Scott A. McGreal makes the unsubstantiated claim that parapsychologists think psi is supernatural, and reduces 130 years of psychical research to an awkward critique of Daryl Bem’s 2010 paper on presentiment. (Psychology Today)
  • To highlight just how short sighted McGreal’s critique is, The Frontiers in Perception Science journal has published a meta-analysis of presentiment studies co-authored by Julia Mossbridge, Northwestern University, Patrizio Tressoldi, University of Padova, and Jessica Utts, University of California, which shows that Bem’s hypothesis is in line with results from a number of other studies in different areas. (Frontiers in Perception Science)
  • For those who aren’t ready to wade into the full depth of the paper, Greg Taylor provides a nice overview with additional links. (The Daily Grail)
  • Pramod Pathak reviews the latest anthology from Sudhir Kakar and Jeffrey J Kripal , Seriously Strange. (Daily Pioneer)
  • Bill Ellis reviews Jeffrey Kripal’s previous publication Authors of the Impossible.
  • Michael Cocks reviews Rupert Sheldrake’s new book, Science Set Free. (White Crow Books)
  • Jon Murray reviews Matmos’ Ganzfeld EP, the musical experiment which reportedly used experimental precognition as a creative source, and provides a video preview of Very Large Green Triangles, one of the songs from the EP. (LA Snark)
  • Scott Morrow adds his two cents with another review of the Ganzfeld EP, and an audio preview of Very Large Green Triangels. (Alarm Magazine)
  • Sydney Brownstone goes straight to the source in an interview with Drew Daniels from Matmos about the inspiration and experimentation that lead to their latest release. (Mother Jones)

Neuroscientist Eben Alexander’s new book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, has drawn a lot of commentary in the mediasphere. Here is a round-up of some of the back and forth pro, con and undecided.

On the skeptical side:

  • Sam Harris thinks that Alexander’s NDE sounds more like a case of confabulated memory and DMT. (
  • Christian Jarrett gets stuck on the word heaven, and discusses how NDEs don’t prove we have what he calls a soul. (Psychology Today)
  • Colin Blakemore muses on how “the brain does funny things when it's running out of oxygen.” (DNA)
  • Peter Stanford decides to stick with the heaven bit as well, and discusses how NDEs represent a longing for an afterlife. (Guardian UK)
  • P.K. Myers gets straight to the point and chalks Alexander’s experience up to pure delusion. (

On the more open side: 

  • Bernardo Kastrup discusses the differences between NDE experiences and psychedelic experiences in light of Sam Harris’ comparison to DMT.
  • Greg Taylor, who currently writing a book on NDEs, is  talks about some of the complications that come from using terms like “heaven” when discussing these areas of experience. (The Daily Grail)
  • Robert McLuhan continues the examination of why using terms like “heaven” complicates the conversation around NDEs. (Paranormalia)
  • Lucien de Pourtales discusses the archetypal nature of NDEs. (Pijama Surf)
  • John Koessler brings a Christian perspective to the issue. (Christianity Today)
  • Billy Cox provides an interesting commentary on the way stories like Alexander’s are used by the media. (Herald Tribute)
  • Matthew Brown opens up the issue of hell, and puts Alexander’s book side by side with the documentary Hellbound. (Deseret News)
  • In a similar vein there is even an invocation of C.S. Lewis famous Screwtape Letters in light of Alexander’s experience. (Conscious Entities)
  • Finally, Eben Alexander himself discusses his experience, and confronts some of the critiques he has received from skeptics. (Skeptico)
Special thanks to Tom Ruffes, of the Society for Psychical Research, for the heads up on the FMRI ‘telepathy center’ study.

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