Wednesday Throwback: The Housing Project Poltergeist in Newark

At his third visit to the Clark’s home, Roll, to his surprise, has a small bottle from an end table fly off the table and hit Dr. Roll on the head. Including a total of 59 psychokinetic incidents, and lasting over nine months, multiple objects were reported to fly around the home when the Clark’s child Ernie was present.

 

Events included coffee cups falling one by one off of a mug rack, bottles in the bathroom falling and breaking, a cologne bottle flying from the bathroom and into the living room. Witnesses report the cologne bottle turning in mid-air to fly into the living room from the hallway. Police were unable to account for the reports. When confronted by drunks at the front door, wanting to see the boy who had objects fly around him, a crockery lamp from the living room moved and crashed to the floor.

 

key-96233Ultimately, this case was determined to be fraudulent by Dr. Roll. Many of the events involved conditions where the child, Ernie, could have simply thrown the objects. Ernie was caught smuggling objects out of the house. At one point money was disappearing and reappearing. Events never occurred when Ernie was watched closely. Thus, in this instance, the poltergeist case was debunked.

 

Reference 

Roll, W. (1972).The poltergeist. New York, Doubleday.

 

Geomagnetic Fields and Psi

Roney-Dougal and colleagues conducted an interesting study where they attempted to examine any relationship between geomagnetic regional activity and psychic ability. Geomagnetic fields are the natural fields created by the earth that protect us from various radiation in space. Interestingly, the current study was performed with Tibetan monks and geomagnetic activity was registered with the help of a British geological institute nearby.

 

 

In terms of psi performance, neither males or females performed above chance. However, males performed significantly worse than chance would expect (called psi-missing). Contrary to previous research, the relationship found between geomagnetic fields and performance was not likely due to chance but is reported to be a weak relationship, with other possible explanations.

 

Finally, the current work looked at seizure symptoms, which have been theorized to be associated with sensitivity to magnetic fields. These researchers found no relationship between either seizure symptoms and geomagnetic fields (although this relationship was significant for women, but not for men). As a secondary analysis, these researchers also did not find a relationship between the phases of the moon and psi performance (although there appeared to be a small relationship between full moons and new moons and performance on psi tasks).

Reference:

Roney-Dougal, S. M., Ryan, A., & Luke, D. (2013). The relationship between local geomagnetic activity and psychic awareness. Journal of Parapsychology, 78, 235-254.

Nonintentional Versus Intentional ESP

Some researchers of extrasensory perception have theorized that we all use ESP to protect ourselves but at an unconscious level. The concept, essentially, is that ESP looks like luck to most of us. The current study examined non-intentional ESP compared with the intentional use of ESP.

 

The current study found that participants in the non-intentional ESP task overall scored better than chance, while the intentional ESP participants scored worse than chance. However, neither group achieved a score that was high or low enough to be a reliable finding. Contrary to previous research in ESP these researchers did not find any relationship between participant’s creativity or open-mindedness and their ESP-task performance.

Although many previous studies have found reliable findings both with intentional and nonintentional ESP tasks, it is a point of scientific research to publish findings that are not successful so that an accurate record of research can be maintained. Parapsychology is particularly good with publishing significant and non-significant research due to the misunderstandings and prejudice that the field suffers from.

Reference:

Luke, D., & Zychowicz, K. (2013). Comparison of outcomes with nonintentional and intentional precognition tasks. Journal of Parapsychology, 78, 223-234.

Throwback Wednesday: Recent Poltergeist History

William Roll, an undisputed expert on poltergeist cases, spent much of his career investigating modern Poltergeist. He also spent considerable time writing research articles and looking at historical claims of the Poltergeist, or “noisy ghost”. Unsurprisingly, the phenomena is not a recent trend and often has substantial witnesses to objects flying or breaking. Roll claims in 1979 that he discovered no less than 47 cases of poltergeist activity before 1958.

 

Roll goes on to explain that the majority of these cases are English and American (57%). The first well-documented case is reported in 1849 and the last in 1957. We would note here that poltergeist cases appear at first glance to correspond to the beginnings of the spiritualist movement (a group of people who regularly contacted the dead through seances). However, five cases were reported in France and four each from Germany and Holland. Italy had three cases, and Austria, India, Ireland, Russia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland had one or two well-documented reports of Poltergeist phenomena.

key-123554Recognizing that many cases could be fraudulent, Roll provides the following facts. In 40 of the 47 cases, visitors not belonging to the household witnessed Poltergeist phenomena. In one case between 30-40 people witnessed pieces of wood floating. In 37 out of 47 cases, witnesses watched an object move from beginning to the end of the movement. Roll also states that in all but one case, only certain types of objects (e.g. Furniture, or figurines) were the target of Psychokinesis.

Historical fraud or honest accounts of the supernatural? You be the judge.

 

 

Reference:

Roll, W. (1972).The poltergeist. New York, Doubleday.

 

Ultraviolet Light As A Mechanism For Psi?

Researchers at the Rhine Institute recently conducted a study in a specially constructed lab with highly sensitive light detection equipment. The goal? To examine if people who meditate, heal others, or regular people produce ultraviolet light (a type of light invisible to the naked eye). These researchers propose that UV (and IR) light emission might serve as an energy mechanism to explain healing or other anomalous abilities.

 

Results from this study were staggering. Four individuals and three meditation groups intentionally projected three to a hundred thousand times more UV light than the baseline UV established in a tightly controlled dark room. The results, in this case, were so extreme that statistical analysis was not performed. The difference was so great there was no need for a test.

 

The authors of this study reason that similar to transmission waves used for TV or satellite, UV light could theoretically be modulated to contain a great deal of information, with the use of very little energy. Whereas the authors admit that this is speculation, the UV light emitted by participants when healing or meditating shows that humans do emit this light under certain states of consciousness.

 

Joines, W. T., Baumann, S. B., & Kruth, J. G. (2012). Electromagnetic emission from humans during focused intent. Journal of Parapsychology, 78, 276-292.

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I want to remind everyone that we’re offering a free layperson’s parapsychology course on our website.  In addition, the Paranormal Experience Registry (PER) is now up and running. The PER is time-consuming to complete, but all of those questions help us create an excellent database to analyze and to eventually provide you with some answers about paranormal experiences. If you can’t donate, consider donating time to the PER. Your experiences are valuable, and we want to hear about them!

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Wednesday Throwback: The Seaford Long Island Disturbances

One of William Roll’s first investigations, the Herrmanns reported that their two children, Lucille and James, reported noises of bottles popping their caps. Holy water uncapped and spilled in the house. A doll was found with its legs broken. Roll was called in to investigate these claims. The first interview with a patrolman reported the same bottle popping phenomena, while the officer was with the entire family.

 

horror-914404In all, 67 psychokinetic events were recorded, where 40 of the incidents involved the movement of the same 16 objects. A male figurine was thrown twice at a visiting Secretary, breaking in the process. 23 separate bottle poppings occurred. Roll himself was present when a bleach bottle popped its top off on its own. At one point, a new coffee table was found turned upside down.

 

Roll personally investigated the scene for ten days. Engineers and other experts were called in to examine for fraud and magic trickery. The family, horrified, actually spent several days away from the home. To this day neither the police, experts, or Roll himself believe the events were hoaxed.

 

Reference 

Roll, W. (1972).The poltergeist. New York, Doubleday.

 

Do Those Who Can Be Hypnotized Perform Better With ESP?

Marcusson-Clavertz recently conducted a modified Ganzfeld ESP study in hopes of examining how hypnotizability and altered states of consciousness might affect the ability to use ESP. Using the Ganzfeld method, which has excellently controlled for mistakes and errors in psi research over the last several decades, these researchers recruited 14 highly hypnotizable individuals and 12 individuals resistant to hypnosis. Each participant went through a series of procedures to test for ESP.

 

Results for this study showed that for people who are easily hypnotizable, the belief in ESP success, prior ESP experiences, and the ability to enter an altered state during the ESP task were significantly related to the participant’s ability to perform in the ESP task. In contrast, for those who were not easily hypnotizable, only belief in the ability to perform ESP and belief in the success of the task were associated with ESP performance.

 

In sum, the current research shows a relationship between those who can alter an altered state of consciousness or be hypnotized appear to have an advantage in performing ESP tasks in laboratory conditions.

 

Marcussion-Clavertz, D. & Cardena, E. (2011). Hypnotizability, alterations in consciousness, and other variables as predictors of performance in a ganzfeld psi task. Journal of Parapsychology, 75, 235-259.

What to Expect If Visited By The Dead

A study by Haraldsson looks at the features of 337 more recent cases of personal encounters with the dead in Iceland. Inspired by a similar work released by the Society for Psychical Research (Gurney, Meyers, & Podmore, 1886), the current article reviews more modern cases to examine the characteristics of experiences of being visited by the dead.

 

Haraldsson’s data from the early to mid 1980’s shows interesting themes. Of participants who reported an experience with the dead, 69% had a visual experience, while 28% reported an auditory experience. The remaining reported either touch, a smell, or a strong sense of presence.  Contrary to assumption, only 22% of participants were resting during the experience, while almost 50% reported being active in an activity. Also contrary to myth, over 50% occurred during daylight or full electric light.

 

Who were the undead visitors? Over half of participants reported family or close friends (54%), Sixteen percent were coworkers or acquaintances, and 30% were reported as strangers. In terms of the cause of death of the undead visitors, the bulk was verified to have died from disease (70%), while accidents, suicide, and murder (as well as unknown) comprised the rest of the sample. For those visited by relatives or friends, the cause of death for these visitors was in bulk disease (77 to 82%) or violent death (18 to 23%). Oddly, the odds of being visited by someone murdered increases as the closeness of the participant to the person grows more distant (i.e., being visited by an apparition that was murdered is most likely if they are a stranger to you).

 

Haraldsson, E. (2009). Alleged encounters with the dead: The importance of violent death in 337 new cases. Journal of Parapsychology, 73, 91-118.

Modern Physical Mediums in Germany: Part II

In our previous Paranormal Facts, we reported a paper that examines the physical mediumship of Kai Mugge in Germany. Kai under various degrees of control has produced anomalous lights, the production of ectoplasm, floating tables, and the teleportation of objects. However, in this summary and the previous, both authors agree that some of the anomalous lights and the production of ectoplasm were likely due to trickery.

 

An expert in historical mediumship, Stephen Braude, reminds the readers in his article that some very famous mediums also performed trickery. Yet, these mediums still produced unexplainable phenomena, such as levitating heavy tables, while all parts of their body were being controlled. Braude makes the fair statement that any medium who performs regularly can be tempted to engage in trickery to meet the expectations of their audience.

 

That is not to say that Braude denies the trickery of Mugge. Details of the article show that Mugge all but confessed to some of his trickery. However, Braude also states that in his own sessions with Mugge, good controls were used, and anomalous lights, levitation, and the teleportation of a piece of copper, did not appear to have a rational explanation.

 

So what is the truth behind this modern mediumship? Braude might suggest that some of Mugge’s phenomena may well be anomalous, but other phenomena may well be trickery. Historically, this is not the first time that mediums have baffled parapsychologists and stage magicians with some phenomena, while occasionally using trickery in others.

 

 

Reference:

Braude, S. (2014). Investigations of the Felix Experimental Group: 2010-2013. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 28, 285-343.