David Schumacher

David Schumacher

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 01:39

Investigating the Investigator

Investigating the Investigators

Ghost Hunting and Paranormal Groups Examined

 

The 21st century has seen an explosion in the number of ghost hunting and paranormal investigation groups. This massive growth in groups and investigators was and continues to be fueled by various reality shows such as Ghost Hunters, a variety of affordable paranormal investigation equipment, the internet and a plethora of haunted locations (both public and private) that these seekers of paranormal activity can investigate.

There is a long list of parapsychology studies in the peer reviewed literature dealing with ghosts and hauntings. However, this is dwarfed by the number of pictures, videos, audio recordings, investigation reports, equipment lists, podcasts, etc… that are found on ghost hunting and paranormal investigation websites.

So, why not have researchers investigate the investigators?

Well, that is exactly what has been done in the past three years.

Below are three studies that examine ghost hunting and paranormal investigation groups in regards to beliefs, practices, equipment used, goals, services, types of people who are part of ghost hunting and paranormal research groups, general procedures and how groups utilize the word ‘science’ and present themselves.

 

Schumacher, Dave. (2013). Paranormal Beliefs of Those Involved in the Ghost Hunting and Paranormal Investigation Field. Paranormal Research Group – Anomalous Research Department.

Pdf report available at: http://www.paranormalresearchgroup.com/images/PDFs/Beliefs_Study_Short_Report.pdf

Here is the quoted text from the Conclusions and Discussion section.

“There was a high level of experiences and belief in ghost and haunt phenomena among those who are interested in and involved in the ghost hunting and paranormal investigation field. The individual Extraordinary Belief Inventory statements that had the highest frequency of the “7 - Strongly Agree” response were those dealing with a supreme being, life after death, spirits can communicate with the living, immortal soul, ESP, haunted buildings and ghosts. The individual Extraordinary Belief Inventory statements that had the highest frequency of the “1 - Strongly Disagree” response were those dealing with luck.

There were statistically significant differences in the six types of paranormal beliefs with spirits and psychic experiences having the highest levels of belief and creatures and luck having the lowest levels of belief.

These results were expected because of the websites, boards and e-mail lists where survey participants were recruited from as they were mainly focused on ghosts and hauntings. However, they did have information and areas for religion, cryptozoology and skeptics.”

Observations and Comments:

 

  • Belief on one type of paranormal phenomena does not mean there is belief in other types of paranormal phenomena.
  • The high level of belief in ghosts and hauntings is interesting since many ghost hunters and paranormal researchers indicate that they are open minded, are seeking the truth, have not made a decision if ghosts exist or not and are driven by science and the scientific method. These high levels of beliefs could present a potential bias when investigating and interpreting experiences and data.

 

 

Duffy, Rick. (2012). Survey of Paranormal Research and Ghost Hunting Groups. Independent Investigations Group, Colorado.

Pdf report available at: http://iigcolorado.org/sites/default/files/IIGSurvey2012.pdf

Excel raw data file available at: http://iigcolorado.org/sites/default/files/IIGSurvey2012.xls

Here is the quoted text from Section 3 General Observations.

“Responses sometimes varied quite a bit, and the actual questions and breakout of responses fill out most of the rest of this report. Below are some generalizations of those responses.

Most group names include a local city or area identifier, along with the words Paranormal, Research, Ghost, Investigations, or Society. The most common group was founded 5-6 years ago with 4 people, and has since doubled in size. Their primary goal is to help people reporting strange occurrences, along with conducting investigations and research, and educating others and themselves. Some also have the goal of helping ghosts. Roles include a founder, investigators, technical specialists, and case managers. Many also have psychics or sensitives. While most groups have no specific new goals for the future, they hope to continue what they are doing now, and feel they get better at what they do over time.

Most groups do not consider themselves a business, have not registered a trade name, are not insured, and are not registered as a non-profit organization. The average group spends $1000 a year, and does not charge for their services, or collect membership fees. They have no overall group religious identity, though 41% of the groups indicated their members have been blessed or prayed over during an investigation, and about half have encountered activity they felt was evil. Few have ever encountered anyone they would consider possessed, but those who have often then seek aid from Catholic clergy.

Most members are 20 to 40 years old, though there are older members, but few under 20, and few retirees. Occupations are roughly similar to the US population, with heavier concentrations in photography, writing, and the media industry, and life, physical, and social sciences, and lighter participation in office support, food preparation, and installer/maintainers. Potential new members contact groups out of the blue, often due to information about the group on the web. While groups value any education or training their members may bring, there are not generally any specific educational requirements to becoming a member. Most training occurs in-house by other team members.

Groups rarely investigate in cemeteries. The most common locations are private residences. When a client contacts the group with concerns about possible paranormal activity, the group begins to collect more information and to determine the next step. Often an investigation is recommended. Occasionally a group will also recommend the client keep a journal to document any unusual disturbances.

The typical group has performed at least 70 total investigations, and now performs about 2 per month. Investigating with another group is uncommon. Investigations usually occur in the evening into the morning hours, since that is when the client requests, or the activity is reported, and since that is the time that conflicts least with the investigators outside work schedules. Nighttime (with the lights off) also is said to be beneficial because of less environmental noise (sounds, light, and so on), and because some of the equipment used works best in the dark. The most common equipment used is audio/video, EMF detectors, thermometers, and IR or night vision technology. Very few groups use things like dowsing rods, religious items, or Ouija boards.

Actually finding something a group would consider paranormal does not happen every time, but it does occur at least half the time. About half the groups have encountered clients they felt should seek psychological help.”

Observations and Comments:

 

  • First, make sure you download and read the pdf report and the Excel file with the raw data. The data is informative, surprising and will cause one to pause and perhaps evaluate and re-evaluate what their group is doing and why. The next few observations and my comments are on those things that particularly peaked my interest.
  • Goals of the group: 95% help people; 94% conduct research; 85% educate others; 72% answer personal questions about the paranormal; and 21% develop or be on a TV show. The top four goals are impressive and will lead to increasing the credibility of investigators. However, proper methods must be used to conduct research and good information must be provided to people.
  • Describe what the group does: 63% investigate/research; 58% help people; 31% educate others; 20% try to find other explanations; 9% document; 8% help spirits or cleanse or clear; 5% public events and fund raise; and 3% collect stories or legends.
  • Plans for the future: 42% continue doing what they are currently doing; 21% help people and investigate more; 18% educate others; 18% legitimize the field and/or find proof; 13% increase TV, radio, web and/or film presence; 12% educate themselves; 2% fix group problems; 2% increase income; 1% join TAPS; and 1% publish book.
  • Investigation goals: 85% help those experiencing paranormal phenomena; 75% conduct research; 73% collect evidence; 54% help ghosts or spirits; and 28% have fun. There is nothing wrong with wanting to have fun. Just make sure that the locations investigated will meet that purpose. If conducting investigations of private residences one needs to make sure that the best interest of the clients are the main consideration.
  • Training or education required for those joining a group: 39% in-house training; 17% no training; 14% hands-on; 8% read; 7% degrees; 3% research or scientific methods; 2% parapsychology; and 1% psychology.
  • Training provided to members: 35% in-house; 24% hands-on; 21% generic – must be trained; 19% research on-line; 9% little or none; 7% outside experts; 6% instrument manuals; and 2% manufacturer training. For this point and the one before it - 17% requiring no training is a concern. Even though there are no experts in the field, there has to be some level of training and/or expertise in some area. Considering how much parapsychology and psychology are involved in this field it is surprising there is not more training in these areas. It would also be very beneficial to thoroughly read and understand any equipment manuals.
  • Services offered by groups: 37% teach classes; 36% cleansings; 27% guide spirit onward; 24%  blessings; 18% tours; 15% spiritual protection; and 4% exorcism.
  • When do investigations take place: 44% best for client or when activity occurs; 30% best for investigator’s schedule; 18% more activity occur at night; 16% activity occurs in the day as well; and 1% more fun in the dark. The vast majority of investigations should take place during the time activity is reported to occur.
  • 61% listed private residences as very common investigation locations. If the goal of the group and the investigation is to help people and conduct research then this is ok. If there are any other goals then perhaps investigating locations other than private residences would be better.
  • Lighting conditions: 49% dark; 21% greater than half the time in the dark; 13% lights sometime on and sometimes off;  and 5% lights on more than off. Again, investigations should be done at the time and under the conditions that activity has been reported to occur.
  • 0% reported experiences when the lights were on most of the time. Interesting since there are numerous reports of paranormal experiences occurring during times when it was light outside and/or the lights were on inside.
  • Environmental conditions groups consider when investigating: 74% age of structure and/or location; 70% weather; 57% water in area; 41% phase of the moon; 38% solar activity; 6% astrology; 7% toxins, gases, chemicals; 5% mineral and geology; 3% EMF; 3% history; 1% client beliefs; 1% geomagnetism; and 1% ion levels.
  • Tools used every time: 94% audio; 79% video; 77% EMF detector; 66% thermometer; 54% Infra-red/night vision; 35% spirit flashlight; 26% EVP box; 13% spirit application; 10% EM pumps; 8% dowsing rods; 7% seismometer; 1% Geiger counter; 1% magnetometer; and 1% RF detector. Considering the amount of peer reviewed published studies showing the various correlations between EMF, geomagnetism, radiation and ion levels and paranormal experiences, it would seem these areas would be focused on by more groups and researchers and more of the equipment that measures these things would be used. Unproven and questionable
  • Encountered a possessed person: 11% yes; 80% no.
  • What did the group do when they encountered a possessed person: 45% help from the catholic clergy; 36% performed a cleansing or deliverance; 18% prayer or blessing; ad 9% got help from others. Possession symptoms could certainly be indicative of various psychological and medical conditions. Therefore, involvement of psychologists, therapists and/or medical doctors is highly recommended.
  • Paranormal activity found: 39% rarely; 31% about half the time; 21% more than half the time; 4% every time; and 2% never. These groups must have great luck in finding locations with paranormal activity. After 20 years involved in paranormal research and investigation I would say only about 5% to 10% of the locations investigated had activity that could not be explained naturally.

 

 

Hill, Sharon. (2010). Being Scientifical: Popularity, Purpose and Promotion of Amateur Research and Investigation Groups in the U.S. A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University at Buffalo, State University of New York in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Education (EdM).

Pdf Report available at: http://idoubtit.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/hill_arigs_being_scientifical_thesis.pdf

Here is the quoted abstract from the study.

“21st century television and the Internet are awash in content regarding amateur paranormal investigators and research groups. These groups proliferated after reality investigation programs appeared on television. Exactly how many groups are active in the U.S. at any time is not known. The Internet provides an ideal means for people with niche interests to find each other and organize activities. This study collected information from 1000 websites of amateur research and investigation groups (ARIGs) to determine their location, area of inquiry, methodology and, particularly, to determine if they state that they use science as part of their mission, methods or goals. 57.3% of the ARIGs examined specifically noted or suggested use of science as part of the groups’ approach to investigation and research. Even when not explicit, ARIGs often used science-like language, symbols and methods to describe their groups’ views or activities. Yet, non-scientific and subjective methods were described as employed in conjunction with objective methods. Furthermore, what were considered scientific processes by ARIGs did not match with established methods and the ethos of the scientific research community or scientific processes of investigation. ARIGs failed to display fundamental understanding regarding objectivity, methodological naturalism, peer review, critical thought and theoretical plausibility. The processes of science appear to be mimicked to present a serious and credible reputation to the non-scientific public. These processes are also actively promoted in the media and directly to the local public as “scientific”. These results highlight the gap between the scientific community and the lay public regarding the understanding of what it means to do science and what criteria are necessary to establish reliable knowledge about the world.”

Observations and Comments:

 

  • This study was written with a skeptical approach.
  • It is important to realize that using ‘scientific equipment’ does not mean that real science is being done. Using the scientific method involves developing a hypothesis, designing an experiment, collecting the data, interpreting the data and modifying the hypothesis as needed.
  • Data collected during investigations needs to be published so others can review and evaluate it.
  • Certain methods and/or equipment are used because they give positive results. Those pieces of equipment that give negative results are not used. Investigation data generated from equipment that gives positive or negative results should collected and published. Negative results can be just as important as positive results. This will also reduce the amount of bias.
  • Some equipment and methods are used just because others use them. The type of equipment or methods used should be utilized in order to answer a specific question and/or to evaluate a specific condition that may or may not be contributing to the phenomena being investigated.

 

If you are interested in real parapsychological research and information then this is the conference for you!

Conference Information and Registration

56th Annual Convention
of the Parapsychological Association

Viterbo, Italy

August 8-11, 2013

The Parapsychological Association (PA), will be holding its 56th annual convention on August 8-11, 2013 at the Ora Domus La Quercia in Viterbo, Italy. Leading scientists and other academics from around the world will gather to present the latest research into psi and related phenomena, such as extra-sensory perception, psychokinesis, psychic healing, altered states of consciousness, mediumship and possible survival of bodily death. 

The site of the PA convention, the Ora Domus La Quercia hotel, is the former convent of the Sanctuary of Saint Maria della Quercia on the Via Francigena, a major route leading to Rome from Canterbury which in the past was used by thousands of pilgrims on their way to Rome.  Constructed between 1470 and 1525, the hotel still maintains its Renaissance elegance and is steeped in local history.

The PA Board has invited Dr. Simon Thorpe to deliver the J.B. Rhine address on Saturday evening of the convention. Dr. Thorpe is the research director of the Brain and Cognitive Research Center (CerCo) at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Toulouse, France. He will be speaking on the possible implications of psi for cognitive neuroscience and thinking about the nature of mind and consciousness. 

The PA convention will offer an opportunity for attendees interested in that wide range of human functioning popularly known as the ‘psychic’ or ‘paranormal’ to hear the latest and most advanced scientific thinking about parapsychological topics.  This page will be updated with more details as they become available.

 

A residual haunting, or the more recent term of place memory, is a paranormal hypothesis in which the environment (being a location or object) can record highly emotional (both good and bad) events. The activity is imprinted on the environment much like an image or sound is recorded on a video or audiotape. Those events with higher emotional content seem to be recorded and perceived better. Then, under the right environmental conditions (magnetic fields, electrical charge, weather, or who knows what) and with the right person, the recorded event is re-played and perceived. You can simply think of it as a looped video playing over and over again.

The identifying characteristics are:

  • The phenomenon is independent of the people in the location. There is no interaction at all between the ghost and the living.
  • It can go on for decades if not centuries.
  • It almost never includes object movement.
  • People can experience visual, auditory, olfactory (smell), and/or kinesthetic (feeling or a sense) phenomena.
  • Apparitions witnessed in a residual haunting are different than the true “dead guy” apparitions (see the next section). The apparitions in a residual haunting are more appropriately referred to as pseudo-apparitions or apparition-like phenomena.
  • One person, a few people, or all people in a group may experience the phenomena.

There is little acceptance of the residual haunting phenomena outside of the paranormal and ghost hunting community. The lack of solid repeatable data in mainstream science seems to be the problematic issue.

The main challenges to the hypothesis are:

1) Can human emotions affect the environment?

2) What is it in the environment that actually serves as the recording medium?

3) Is there a residual event that is truly residual and repeatable?

The following studies provide data to address the above challenges.

 

Blasband, R.A. (2000). The Ordering of Random Events by Emotional Expression. Journal of Scientific Exploration. Vol. 14(2). 195-216. Article

This study shows that a patient’s emotions in a biopsychiatric therapy setting can affect the output of a Random Event Generator (REG). Therefore, it seems as if human emotions can affect the environment.

 

Radin, D., Taft, R. and Yount, G. (2004). Effects of Healing Intention on Cultured Cells and Truly Random Events. The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine. Vol. 10(1). 103-112. Article

This study shows that intentional healing and space conditioning affected the output of a Random Number Generator (RNG) and the effect was still seen when there was not active intentional healing and space conditioning being conducted in the environment. Evidence of a residual effect!

 

Persinger, M.A. and Dotta, B.T. (2011). Temporal Patterns of Photon Emissions Can Be Stored and Retrieved Several Days Later From the “Same Space”: Experimental and Quantitative Evidence. NeuroQuantology. Vol. 9(4). 605-613. Article

This study shows that photon emissions from a hydrogen peroxide-hypochlorite reaction can be entangled in time and space and can be ‘stored’ and retrieved long after the event took place when in the presence of complex magnetic fields (and no they can’t be detected with a KII Meter). This shows that ‘events’ could be stored just within space itself under complex magnetic fields and there doesn’t need to be a substrate such as quartz, house structures, furniture, etc. Pages 610 to 612 are especially worthwhile reading!

 

 

Here is a new journal related to parapsychology and exceptional human experiences. It covers ghosts, hauntings, survival, ESP, mediums and various other Psi topics. It is available online for free!

http://www.exceptionalpsychology.com/

PRG Staff member - Dave Schumacher

Memorial Day is a time to remember those brave men and women in the military who gave their lives in the line of duty to protect America and promote freedom throughout the world.

Having the day off to honor our military heroes and having taken a recent trip to Gettysburg makes me pause and consider the emotional and traumatic times of war that affect those both on and off the battlefield in natural and sometimes paranormal ways. It also makes me remember that certain types of ghost sightings and paranormal phenomena have been occurring for a very long time and are frequently reported during times of war.

There is no shortage of paranormal reports from the American Civil War. Two types of experiences, collective and crisis apparitions, provide fascinating phenomena for paranormal researchers to study and data that is hard to reconcile with natural explanations.

A Battlefield Collective Apparitional Experience

On July 2nd, 1863 Union and Confederate forces were engaged in the fierce and bloody Battle of Gettysburg at Little Round Top. Both sides were taking heavy casualties when all of a sudden a single Union soldier on horse rode through the battlefield. Soldiers took aim, fired and their shots looked to hit the brave soldier over and over again. However, the soldier never went down and continued to ride on, which left both Union and Confederate soldiers in a state if disbelief. The untouchable soldier eventually disappeared.

Later in the day the Union forces decided to make a final charge. They grabbed whatever ammunition they could, attached their bayonets to their rifles and charged with full force down the hill at Little Round Top.

No sooner had the charge began when the bulletproof phantom soldier from earlier returned to the battlefield. Once again a barrage of bullets could not bring down the seemingly invincible soldier. The fight raged on and eventually the mysterious soldier disappeared.

Union soldiers reported their experiences to Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain and eventually the stories made their way to the War Department. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton took notice of the paranormal reports emerging from the battlefield and decided to send Colonel Pittenger to investigate. Colonel Pittenger interviewed many people including General Oliver O. Howard of Maine. Colonel Pittenger never produced an official report but did document the many people collectively witnessed the ghostly apparition.

The Census of Hallucinations conducted by the Society for Psychical Research showed that approximately 8% of experiences are shared or ‘collective.’ More than one person perceives these experiences at the same time and these experiences can be visual, auditory, olfactory and/or a sensed presence. Different people can experience something at the same time but can experience it using different senses. The important point is that they are collectively perceived and that is especially interesting because it makes reconciling these experiences with natural processes more difficult. One would think people would have different experiences when interpreting natural phenomena since we all have different backgrounds, beliefs and experiences to frame our interpretation. 

So, the question is then, why do different people who have no prior knowledge of a location with different backgrounds and different beliefs all have the same experiences? This is why collective paranormal experiences are so interesting, need further investigation and may provide insight into the true nature of paranormal experiences. Apparently the War Department thought it was interesting enough to investigate in 1863!

A Civil War Crisis Apparition

George Roberts was a Union Soldier in Port Hudson, Louisiana. Port Hudson was attacked on June 14th, 1863 and George was killed in the battle around 10am.

Approximately 1,500 miles away, George’s parents were in the State of New York. Around 9:45am George’s mother was getting ready for church when she suddenly and clearly heard her son’s voice calling out, “Mother! Mother!” Around the same time George’s dad was at church ringing the church bell and he had a strong feeling that someone was standing behind him. He turned around but no one was there.

Mr. and Mrs. Roberts did not find out until later that their son had been killed around the same time they both had their experiences.

This is not only another collective experience, but also an excellent example of a crisis apparition. These experiences happen when one person is in a crisis or life-threatening situation and are perceived by another person who is emotionally connected to them, such as a family member or friend. Most people are familiar with the visual crisis apparition. However, the experience can also be auditory (as Mrs. Roberts experienced), a sensed presence (as Mr. Roberts experienced) or part of a dream. When an apparition is seen, the people experiencing it do not realize it is an apparition until it is gone. The final characteristic of these types of experiences is that the person who has the experience does not know that the person they are seeing or sensing in other ways is in danger, dying or just deceased.

These two types of paranormal phenomena, collective experiences and crisis apparitions, provide for interesting study by paranormal investigators and should be evaluated carefully since they contain certain characteristics such as: collectively perceived, emotional connections, spontaneous, happen to people who don’t expect them and the people who experience a crisis apparition have no idea that the person they are seeing are in a crisis situation or have just died. These make them more difficult to just explain away with normal causation. It is also different than the phenomena that most paranormal investigators and ghost hunters investigate.

Bibliography

Chamberlain, J.L. (1915). The Passing of Armies: An Account of the Final Campaign of the Army of the Potomac. Reprinted by Stan Clark (1994). Military Books, Gettysburg, PA.

Coleman, C.K. (1999). Ghosts and Haunts of the Civil War: Authentic Accounts of the Strange and Unexplained. Thomas Nelson Publishing Company. Nashville, TN.

Gurney, E., Myers, F.W. and Podmore, F. (1886). Phantasms of the Living. Volume 2. London: Rooms of the Society for Psychical Research: Trubner & Company.

Hardison, S.A. (2013). Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal. Vol. 4(1), 62-67.

Tyrell, G.N.M. (1953). Apparitions. Pantheon Books Inc. New York, NY.

From Investigationg the Haunted: Ghost Hunting Taken to the Next Level. (2007). Lauer & Schumacher. Xlibris.

"If you say you are science based, then use science. Science is NOT just using fancy electronic equipment and walking around taking thousands of photos. The hardcore skeptics have a field day with this. Being scientific involves much more and can be rather boring and dull at times. When trying to gain new knowledge of something, the scientific method or scientific process is basic to the investigation. You use observations and reasoning to develop possible explanations for the observed phenomena. This is called a hypothesis. Once the hypothesis is formed, you test predictions that come from the hypothesis by doing a variety of experiments. The experiments should be repeatable. Now, once the hypothesis has been confirmed repeatedly by experimentation and research, then it becomes a theory and new predictions are based upon it.

All aspects of the scientific method are subject to review by other researchers. Here is a general guideline to follow:

  1. Define the question
  2. Get information
  3. Develop a hypothesis
  4. Research/experiment/observe
  5. Analyze the data
  6. Interpret the data and draw some conclusions (which may lead to a new hypothesis)
  7. Tell people about your results and let them analyze the data and try to replicate your results

Research and observation can involve looking into the history of a location or reviewing published literature for information (both natural and paranormal) and cases like those you are working on... Hopefully, one day, this will lead to the development of a paranormal theory that can be validated over and over again both by ghost researchers and mainstream science. Knowing your stuff and applying the appropriate scientific terminology and really using the scientific method will go a long way in making you appear legitimate."

If you use EMF meters and think electromagnetic fields are correlated with ghostly paranormal phenomena, then you absolutely need to read this critical review by Dr. Jason Braithwaite. You can download the article for free.

Magnetic fields, hallucinations and anomalous experiences: A sceptical critique of the current evidence

The Skeptic | Volume 22. Issue 4 / Volume 23. Issue 1

Download article for free here.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 09:47

Are you interested in survival?

Many ghost hunters and paranormal investigators are interested in ghosts and hauntings for various reasons. One of them is to gain evidence to prove the existence of life after death. However, there are other areas that one can study in order to determine if there is life after death. So, let’s briefly look at some of these other subjects in the realm of survival related phenomenon.

Mediums and Channeling

The first area that deserves mention includes mediums. Now, one could argue that this should be included under the ESP section since that would explain more about how they receive their information. Still, mediums claim to be able to communicate with the spirits of people who have died so they make a good way to study the survival phenomena.

Mediums can be differentiated into three different types. The first include the physical mediums, which are able to receive verbal messages from the dead and produce physical disturbances during their sessions. The physical disturbances can be levitation, object movement, and knocking or rapping. The second category of mediums are the mental mediums. These mediums speak with the dead mainly by going into a trance and becoming ‘possessed by the dead person’s spirit and a control entity. The third and final class of mediums are the psychic mediums. These are similar to but slightly different than the mental mediums in that they do not go into a trance and remain fully conscious during their communications with the spirits. Well known psychic mediums include John Edwards, James Van Praagh, and Sylvia Browne.

Another more vague and encompassing term that includes mediums is channeling. Mediums are said to channel the spirit of the deceased. However, channeling also entails contacting and communicating with non-human entities such as aliens and other dimensional beings.

Another survival related phenomenon that involves mediums is automatic writing. This is when the medium’s hand writes a message without the conscious control of the medium. It is thought that the medium’s hand and/or mind are being guided by the spirit of the deceased.

Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE)

OBEs are very similar to clairvoyance and remote viewing except that the person having the experience feels as if they leave their body. This enables them to view their physical body as well as the rest of the world around them. In the metaphysical world this has been called astral projection and the reports are very similar except those describing astral projection report being tethered to their body by a silvery cord.

Reincarnation

Reincarnation involves the soul or disembodied consciousness of someone who has died being reborn in another person or even an animal. Reincarnation is a strongly held belief in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. The strongest evidence for this is when very young children remember a past life of which they should know nothing, and have not been exposed to the information. This phenomenon is studied by collecting information from the people who claim to have been reincarnated and then trying to verify the facts of the case.

Near-Death Experience (NDE)

People who are clinically dead for a short period of time experience this phenomena. They report a similar sequence of events in the majority of the cases reported. This includes the following: hearing a buzzing noise; having a sense of peacefulness; leaving one’s body; traveling through a tunnel towards a bright light; meeting dead relatives, friends, and/or religious figures; seeing one’s life pass quickly before their eyes; and a feeling that this is a truly wonderful experience which they don’t want to end. The interesting thing is the main aspects of the experience seem to be similar across different cultures. There are slight differences that mainly concern the type of religious figures present in the experience.

It is possible to attribute the NDE to brain states triggered by cardiac arrest and anesthesia. Also, the patients may not have been truly dead since there was still electrical activity in the brain. Other arguments against the paranormal nature of a NDE are that NDE type experiences have been triggered in living people by the following: severe psychosis; drug usage such as LSD and DMT; electrical stimulation of the temporal lobes and thus the hippocampus; and decreased cerebral perfusion which results in cerebral hypoxia. This is a common condition for jet pilots that experience incredible forces when going extremely fast and vertical.

However, it can be argued that if the experience is truly due to neurochemistry of the brain, then why are the experiences all not exactly the same? Why are the experiences very specific to the individual? These are questions that can only be answered with future research.

Induced After Death Communication (IDAC)

A new therapy discovered by Dr. Allan Botkin, which is used by psychologists as a therapy to reduce trauma, stress and grief, could be a new area for survival-related research. It involves using eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Dr. Botkin revised the EMDR and called it ‘core-focused EMDR.’ Dr. Botkin discovered that during the core-focused EMDR that patients could be induced to have an IDAC by following a specific sequence of events. The IDAC allows people to deal with their grief by enabling them to communicate and reconnect with their dead loved ones. Dr. Botkin has pointed out that IDACs have much in common with NDEs and spontaneous after death communications (ADCs). Even though the paranormal nature of IDACs is uncertain, it does provide yet another avenue for exploring the possibility of life after death.

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