Parapsychology, like every other science, is in the business of doing research. At least as important as research, if not moreso, is publishing. Parapsychology is a very tight and tiny field surrounded by nay-sayers in tweed jackets and lab coats who call it bad names like “soft science,” and “cargo cult.” (A cargo cult applies to any scientific endeavor that engages in a grab-bag of different types of research. Parapsychology, which studies everything from hauntings to brainwaves, qualifies for the insult. So do anthropology, sociology and marketing.)
So, it’s especially important for parapsychology to look like a science. Parapsychology does what every science does: it publishes findings in professional journals. The dry and serious studies that go in there are sometimes good for a few laughs: “A Preliminary Report on a New Case Responsive Xenoglossy: The Case of Gretchen”; “A Study of Motivational Arousal and Self-Concept in Psi-Mediated Instrumental Response”; and “Do Spirits Matter? Naturalism and Disembodied Survival.”
These folks are serious. It’s the right thing to do, of course. If they don’t take themselves seriously, who will?
What follows is a parody of the type of article typically found in one of the parapsychological journals, or in any scientific journal. It might help to know a few of the terms used, so a glossary is provided.
Psi — Anything parapsychology studies is lumped together as “psi phenomena.” This includes ESP, PK, remote viewing, OBE’s and anything else that catches the wandering fancy of a parapsychological research outfit.
Xenoglossy — Speaking in a language you have no business speaking, or even knowing. Babbling coherently in another tongue. Responsive xenoglossy is doing this under hypnosis.
ESP — Knowing things without benefit of sensory assistance. Not to be confused with EMP (extra-mental perception), which is having opinions about things without intellectual assistance. ESP is tested by card guessing, which assures boredom as well as declining results.
Significance — A statistical measure of reality. Nothing is ever quite true in statistics , only probable. If something in an experiment is found likely, we call it significant, and give it a numerical value. This is very handy for sciences, because facts can be manufactured from lots of confusing numbers, and given levels of importance. Significance should not be confused with meaning. And almost anything meaningful can’t be expressed statistically. (I just asked our staff statistics expert if the above explanation was correct. He said, “probably.”)
Healing — This occurs when a person with an illness recovers with the assistance of good intentions rather than medical artifice. In parapsychology, it occurs regardless of the patient’s eventual condition.
OBE — An acronym for out-of-body-experiences. OBEs are vacations that people take without carting their flesh along.
Remote Viewing — Voyeurism of a very sneaky sort. Some people, maybe most people, have the ability to look at things that are quite elsewhere. In a remote viewing experiment, a subject will often give a narrative description of what he or she sees, and will draw a picture or two to help out. Any faint resemblance between the viewer’s drawing or account and the real thing is considered a hit. There are no misses, only bad luck. In cases of apparent misses, the viewer has simply taken a wrong turn somewhere and wound up viewing the wrong thing.
Psychokinesis (PK) — Influencing the behavior of reality without using your body. You use this to make your car fail without apparent cause, or to win constantly at games of chance.
Survival — An out-of-body experience that you don’t come back from. For reasons not quite clear, parapsychology is interested in talking to people after they die, despite the relative convenience of conversation beforehand. Some survival studies are conducted prior to physical death; but even here, as for example with OBE investigations, parapsychology insists that people stay clear of their most convenient communication devices.
p — An expression of statistical value, the scientific equivalent of price. A p value says what something is worth, probably. It is the world’s most specific way of saying “maybe.” A p value of .50 is 50-50, half likely. Significance is generally said to begin at the .05 level, or 5% likely. Meaning is always 100% unlikely. Meaning and significance are reciprocals. Statistical tests are either one-tailed or two-tailed, depending on how much work the researcher feels like doing.
PSI BURN: A STUDY OF PHYSIOLOGICAL DETERIORATION IN PARAPSYCHOLOGICAL EXPERIMENTATION
A. Paul Stonefinch O.D.
Spaced Man Center, Institute for Soft Science
Coil Springs, N. C.
ABSTRACT: Anecdotal accounts suggest that the use of psychic powers is often accompanied by unpleasant and sometimes fatal side effects for the practitioners. In this series of exploratory experiments, subjects were found to suffer varying degrees of physical pathology as a result of psi experimentation. This has some important implications for parapsychological research.
Since its beginnings, parapsychology has been troubled by the “decline effect” — the gradual collapse in performance of psychic tasks by talented subjects. Many researchers have been driven to chemical intoxicants by unusually gifted subjects who produced results that drifted, with monotonous predictability, to eventual insignificance. Parapsychologists have been quick to blame the decline effect on some obscure “decline principle” (i.e. God) that must be out to fudge good research. Few have been willing to examine the subjects who so obligingly provide decline results. These subjects never seemed to display anything more serious than nervous exhaustion or personality collapse. This series of experiments is the first to examine the possibility of physical pathology as a result of psi experimentation.
The likelihood of this connection was considered by researchers at the Spaced Man Center (SMC) after a routine healing appeared to produce severe brain damage. This series of experiments was designed to test the various ways physical damage might result from performance of psychic tasks.
Tart recommends what he calls a state-specific approach to psi experimentation. Consistent with this recommendation, a specific state, North Carolina, was chosen for the experiment. While there are other more specific states, North Carolina was the only state convenient to Coil Springs, home of the Spaced Man Center.
Magnaporno and Phelpth point out that underwater psychical research is impossible except under the most carefully fatal conditions. This has been confirmed repeatedly by Acni, Gjnch, Brainiac and others. It was decided, therefore, to conduct experiments on dry land to eliminate, within the practical limits of reality, the possibility of accidental mortality. This supplies a further convenience, since North Carolina has more land than water. It was important for the subjects to remain in their bodies during experimentation. To prevent any out-of-body-experiences (OBE’s) that might occur, several standard fear-agents (FA’s) were employed. Since it would have been difficult to control for different FA’s used in successive trials, a talking bear and two boa constrictors were kept in flimsy cages near the subjects through all the experiments.
Four standard psi tasks were selected: ESP, healing, remote viewing and psychokinesis (PK). A fifth psi task, survival, was also explored after one of the subjects expired during an experiment.
ESP Card Guessing
In the ESP experiment, standard 10000-card runs were used with four subjects, all students at nearby South Virginia Wesleyan Academy and Institute for Bible Study.
A standard personality test (MMPI, “What’s your favorite kind of dog?”) and an intelligence test (Stanford-Binet, “Name the ingredients in a Big Mac. You have four seconds.”) were administered both before and after the entire run, for each subject. Since each run would have taken several years in ordinary time, the techniques of time-waste spazmography were employed, with results matrixed and decoded using a combination rotofork advance/false time analyser developed by James Davis of the Foundation for Research on The Nature of Nature (FRNN). Using this procedure it was possible to end the experiments before they began, thus assuring false results and violating the scientific maxim which insists that any falsifiable hypothesis must be provable under the right circumstances. So the experiments were conducted during lunch break on a Monday.
Two kinds of healing were employed: remote and “laying-on-of-glands (LOG).” Two talented healers, “Sister Mavis” Johnson and Unsingh Ramadumbuni performed healings on eight subjects. Both healers practiced the two healing techniques on two subjects apiece. For the remote healings, the healer was driven blindfolded in an old Dodge around the town of Dogbreath, North Carolina, while the healee reclined in a hammock behind Jimmy’s Grill at the corner of 3rd and 4th Streets in Siliva Falls, 200 miles away in the Virginia mountains. The hammock, made entirely of recording tape, was designed and built by James Davis of the FRNN. The hammock was stolen from the Davis residence for use in these experiments.
In this experiment, the subjects were locked in a rigidly meaningless room, a local laundromat, for half an hour. The remote view was provided by a new Random Thought Generator (RTG) designed by Reginald Sopht of the SMC staff. According to Sopht, who developed the device under a grant from the Parasitology Foundation, the basic RTG “is like God, only smaller.” The Sopht RTG can generate up to 78 completely different thoughts per second (tps), exceeding the legal limit by 10. In this experiment, the RTG was secluded in a lavoratory across town, where it pumped out thoughts at a rate of three per minute. Subjects were asked to draw or describe anything they thought might not severely offend the RTG.
Subjects in the PK experiment were asked to influence the behavior of ordinary dice in a run of 300 tosses. The experimenter was drugged and carefully blinded to prevent manipulation of results. Four subjects were used. We forget what else we did, but we got some results so it doesn’t matter.
All subjects in each experiment were given complete medical examinations before and after the experiments. Records were made of EEG, EOG, EMG, BVD, LTD, GOD, GTO, GSR, BO, Thought Pressure, Terminal Velocity, Load Stress and DOA. P values were determined by urinanalysis.
As expected, all subjects exhibited significant ESP hitting for the first several cards (p = .0003). Two subjects continued hitting for maybe 40 or 50 cards ( p = .00000000005). The other two commenced insignificance within the first 12 cards. In terms of somatic developments, the following declines were noteworthy: Three of the subjects began to mumble after the 500th card. The fourth held out until the 1254th card, then became quite emotional, demanding to play with the bear. One of the first subjects became salivary after the 2006th card, and stopped breathing several times in the hours which followed. Another guessed valiantly, if reluctantly, through 4780 cards, then ate the cards, every one. The third subject waited until the 1979th card, then beat the experimenter senseless.
Medical analyses conducted before and after each healing session revealed important changes in patient pathology, as the following chart demonstrates:
|Healee||Before Healing||After Healing||Significance|
|A||warts||boils||p = .02|
|B||trench-head||brain lesions||p = .008|
|C||rabies||leprosy||p = .04|
|D||headache||dead||p = .0000000003|
|E||tremors||earthquakes||p = .009|
|F||scars||disfigurations||p = .007|
|G||paralysis||catatonia||p = .05|
|H||flu||cancer||p = .004|
For Healees A, C, and H, radiographs indicated slight left brain hemisphere shrinkage, accompanied by loss of analytical ability and improved sense of humor. Each of these subjects seemed quite pleased with their healing. H even offered to cover the cost of settlement for a lawsuit begun by healees B, E, F and G, who were somewhat less pleased with the results.
In the case of healee D, an additional survival study was initiated following the subject’s sudden passing. The events of the death indicated paranormal agency, as no standard pathological causes could be found. At the time, MJ was performing her usual laying-on-of-gland healing procedure, attempting to cure D of a headache, when the left half of D’s head suddenly imploded. While the county medical examiner’s report lists “a blow to the head” as the cause of death, those present — including MJ, both experimenters and the bear — all reported no physical violence.
As far as anything made sense, viewer responses were time-matched to the Random Thought Generator’s output. Here are some sample subject responses to RTG targets:
While the results of the remote viewing experiments were totally insignificant, once again it should be noted that all 5 subjects suffered adverse physical and behavioral affects following the experiment. According to close friends and relations, the subjects continued to “see things which aren’t there” long after the experiment was over. Indeed, two of the subjects still “see things which aren’t anywhere.”
With each of the four PK subjects, positive results were obtained for the first 20-30 dice tosses. Two of the subjects thought “snake eyes” or “box cars” and PK’d a bunch of double-ones or double-sixes in a row (p = .00005). The other two insisted on nothing but sevens and got them for the first 100 tosses (p = .0000000000000000003). After the first 105 tosses, three of the subjects thought they were God. The fourth thought he was Buddha. Then the results began the inevitable decline. By the 250th toss, three of the subjects doubted their ability to walk upright or to use an opposable thumb. The most dramatic PK results were obtained with the fourth subject, who said, “I will now make the dice explode.” He did. All that remained was a fine white powder and 42 little black dots.
Evidence of physical pathology was also found with the PK subjects. All four became gaunt and palsied during the experiment. Two developed athlete’s mouth. The third started knitting booties for his pet rat. The fourth developed an ingrown head.
That the decline effect should be accompanied by physical deterioration should be of no surprise to the experienced parapsychologist. Indeed, anecdotal reports tend to indicate a high rate of behavioral pathology among talented subjects who volunteer for testing. This, of course, is the well-known “flake effect,” and may reveal a correspondence between certain personality types, psi abilities, and tendencies to go to hell under psi stress.
The results of this series point toward two possible conclusions: (1) Something isn’t going quite right here; and (2) The practice of psychic abilities is downright dangerous.
Whatever the legal or rational implications, further experimentation is absolutely necessary.
A. Paul Stonefinch
Spaced Man Center
Institute for Soft Science
Coil Springs, N.C.
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