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Record Type:   ID: 1249

Research in Parapsychology 1993: Abstracts and Papers from the Thirty-Sixth Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association, 1993

Zingrone, Nancy L., Schlitz, Marilyn J., Alvarado, Carlos S., & Milton, Julie (Eds)

The Toronto 1993 annual convention of the Parapsychological Association resulted in more papers than usual on the usual variety of topics. Ten sessions devoted to papers comprise Part I. There is space only to give the session topics and in parentheses the number of papers in each. The session topics were Distant Mental Influence on Living Systems (5), MetaAnalyses (3), Physical Variables I (2), Physical Variables II (2), Free Response Research Directions (3), Psi and Psychology (3), Psychokinesis Research (3), Social and Cultural Perspectives II (2), and Perceptual Variables (3).

Part II consists of a symposium on Exceptional Experiences of Psi Investigators: Their Meanings and Implications, and two roundtables. The first was on the Skeptical Proponent Debate in Parapsychology: Perspectives from the Social Sciences with a sole presenter, Marcello Truzzi. The second was on Dissociation and Hypnosis, in which there were 5 presentations, each relating dissociation and/or hypnosis to psi. The third part consists of 6 invited addresses. The presidential address, Psi Hits and Psi Myths, was presented by Dean I. Radin. The last part contains the program and two innovative bibliographies compiled by Julie Milton. They are Bibliography of Parapsychological Association Members’ Parapsychological Publications in Non-Parapsychological Journals, Books, and Conference Proceedings, 1980-1992 and General Bibliography of Parapsychological Association Members’ Publications in 1993.

Several contributions are particularly relevant to exceptional experiences (EEs) and exceptional human experiences (EHEs) of the spontaneous type. Stanley Krippner and Michael Persinger reported that the accuracy of telepathic dreams involving a star dream-ESP participant (William Erwin) was increased when geomagnetic activity was low. This relationship between geomagnetic activity and psi has been reported in several studies, including one by Radin, McAlpine, and Cunningham in this volume.

Spottiswoode reported on a study of anomalous cognition (what Parapsychologists usually call psi) and several variables that compare the GMF (Geomagnetic Field Index.) In another study reported here, Radin cast the net wider in proposing that "a complex assemblage of cosmic, global, local, and personal variables conspire to ‘modulate’ mind-matter (MM2) effects" (p. 51). This resonates with the exceptional experiences that I have collected. People are reporting experiences involving not only themselves and people they know but are having global and cosmic experiences.

Erlendur Haraldsson reported a study showing that religiosity and belief in an afterlife might be better predictors of ESP test performance than the sheep-goat effect. As regards EHE, people who are religious and those who believe in an afterlife tend to be those who have had NDEs, mystical experiences, OBEs, or other seemingly personally direct experiences of life after death and of the numinous.

Shigeki Hagio with a potentially significant approach explored psi in the human associative process. I feel it is promising because it connects the psi test with personal meaning. Often, when an exceptional experience changes the experiencer’s identity or worldview, it is because of a process of meaningful associations, which may take some time to fall into place. The associations that are the "farthest out" tend to be the most meaningful out of the full range of personal, local, global, and cosmic possibilities.

The innovative social scientist Robin Wooffitt sets forth an approach to analyzing the language in which the spontaneous psi experiences described are related to language use and if treated as such "may yet yield to forms of investigation that emerge from the study of social organization, of everyday interaction" (p. 88). I take it that being able to do this is not to explain away the psi phenomena but to integrally connect them to mainstream social psychological and sociological paradigms. Shari Cohn presented an overview of her first-hand survey on Scottish "second sight," which consists of several forms of psi. Carlos Alvarado and Nancy Zingrone reported on "individual differences in aura vision" by relating seeing auras to visual imagery and imaginative-fantasy experiences.

The lone symposium was on the exceptional experiences of psi researchers with emphasis on the meaning and implications of the experiences (i.e., the aspects that would make them EHEs). William Braud spoke on "Honoring our Natural Experiences," and showed how several of his experiences were related to or affected his psi research. Montague Ullman described his experiences in high school and college as a member of a sitter group. These experiences influenced his psi research and his life in general. Russell Targ, who is legally blind, related what he "sees" when he closes his eyes to psi. I spoke about psi experiences from the viewpoint of what I had learned from studying EHEs.

The five presentations on aspects of dissociation and hypnosis are all relevant to EEs/EHEs, as their titles indicate: Dissociation and Psi: What Are the Links? by Etzel Cardoña; Early Interactions Between Dissociation and Psychic Phenomena: The Society for Psychical Research, 1982-1900 by Carlos S. Alvarado; Dissociation and Psi: Two Proposals, by Stephen E. Braude; Dissociation and Anomalous Phenomena: The Case of Chris Sizemore" by Stanley Krippner. And Clarifying the Role of State Reports in Psi Research by Rex G. Stanford.

Among the invited addresses related to EHEs, A.R.G. Owen, in "Parapsychological Methods and Miracles," provides a partial EHE autobiography, points to the relevance of belief and doubt to the investigation of psi, and deals specifically with miraculous phenomena involving "any physical happening of a very bizarre nature" (p. 178). He emphasizes spontaneous PK occurring in sitter groups and phenomena associated with Sai Baba. I spoke on the relevance of exceptional human experience to the study of psi, arguing on behalf of a feminist, qualitative, social scientific, and cosmic approaches to spontaneous psi as a prolegomena to further laboratory research using Tom Berry’s Dream of the Earth as my text.

Dean Radin’s presidential address is not only highly inspiring and motivating to those who work in parapsychology, but his conclusions are in line with what EHEs reveal. Here is his hypothesis regarding the meaning of psi: "Perhaps when we are the same, there is psi" (p. 231). However, with EHEs—and indeed, anomalous experiences, we tap our sameness through our unique differences. And what we find is not so much Radin’s "we are the same," but rather what Meister Eckhart indicated when he said: "All God wants is for us to be same."

Publisher Information:Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 1998. Pp. xiii + 308. 1 fig; Name ind: 273-281; Subj. ind: 282-306; 4 tables
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