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.
Braude, S. (2014). Investigations of the Felix Experimental Group: 2010-2013. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 28, 285-343.
The next two entries of Paranormal Facts concerns the exact same subject addressed by two separate research authors. Its target was the FEG group, a seance circle with a gentleman named Kai Mugge who serves as their medium. Kai is a physical medium, who in seance sessions has been reported to channel the spirit of Hans Bender, a famous parapsychologist.
Kai’s reported phenomena are varied but include anomalous lights, the production of ectoplasm, floating tables, and apportation of objects (i.e. crystals, nuggets of copper, e.t.c.). He has produced these phenomena under semi-laboratory conditions and stricter conditions.
However, while some phenomena have yet to be explained (i.e. tables floating), other phenomena Kai exhibits have come under suspicion due to trickery. In particular, Kai’s production of ectoplasm has been associated with his purchase of Halloween cobwebs. Likewise, the author of the current paper was able to associate movements of Kai’s hand with the production of an anomalous light (a light which can be recreated with an led device).
So the question remains, is Kai Mugge’s phenomena legitimately anomalous. The author of this report remains skeptical.
Nahm, M. (2014). The development and phenomena of a circle for physical mediumship. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 28, 229-283.
Bauer in a contextual article attempts to explain the contrast between the beliefs of mainstream science versus what is coined pseudo-science. Bauer’s evidential claim is that pseudoscience does not really exist. It is simply a label used by mainstream science for any series of research that is contrary to the existing public image and beliefs of popular science.
Can the case be made that pseudo-science is simply a prejudicial term and not based on the actual evaluation of alternative science? Bauer says yes. When reviewing different fields of “fringe science” Bauer finds a consistent pattern. The quality of the research and data is irrelevant. Because fringe science often threatens the “established findings” of mainstream science, spokespeople for science attempt to slander and minimize these findings.
Why would scientists engage in such behavior which is contrary to the idea of science (i.e. data and research driven beliefs and conclusions)? Bauer points to the increasing social and cultural influence of science since WWII and the use of the atomic bomb. As science has gained political influence, official advisory positions, and used in society as an authoritative source of truth, its advocates attempt to stifle any research that could threaten science’s position in society.
On a personal note, Bauer’s analysis strikes home with me. Trained as a Social Psychologist, the research available on peer-pressure, self-serving bias, and other cognitive errors, fully endorse this view. Where society and scientists often make mistakes is the assumption that our human flaws and tendencies don’t apply to science. Science is a data-driven method, not a belief system. However, the spirit of this process has been lost to the human drive for power and prestige. Popularity does not actually make something true.
Bauer, H. H. (2014). Anomalistics, pseudo-science, junk science, denialism: Corollaries of the role of science in society. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 95-111.
DeMeo in a recent article reviews the history of cosmological and physics science. Specifically, he reviews the experiments of Dayton Miller. Although at first glance conspiratorial, DeMeo makes a solid case that ether, the proposed substance that exists in space, which in mainstream science is not believed to exist) in fact does exist.
Dr. Miller spent decades refining a complicated physics experiment where his data (over 200000 observations) definitively showed the existence of some type of substance that was displaced by the earth as it moves through the solar system. Mainstream science, however, found these findings incompatible with their existing theories, and instead cite a rivals research, which contained a fraction of the data that Miller presented (and also misrepresent the findings to present a no-ether case in textbooks).
Whether you believe in ether or not, DeMeo’s article shows how politics, prestige, and power will sometimes alter the official scientific record. The evidence and data from Miller’s work show the existence of ether. Rival mainstream scientists have purposely buried or misrepresented this data because it is incompatible with their existing theories. Sadly, we are all human, including scientists. Thus, pride, ego, and power can alter the official scientific record.
DeMeo, J. (2014). Does a cosmic ether exist? Evidence from Dayton Miller and others. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 28, 647-682.
Irwin in some of his recent work further explores the psychological components of human’s and their endorsement of scientifically unaccepted beliefs. In the current research, Irwin examines aberrant salience, which roughly translates into a tendency to become focused on a small piece of evidence while ignoring the broader body of evidence of a particular belief.
Irwin also investigates the role of motivation and unconventional beliefs. Specifically, the current research investigated a need for achievement, need for power, need for affiliation, and need for intimacy. Irwin proposes that some of these motivational factors influence a person’s willingness or desire to believe in unsupported beliefs.
Findings in this study, which comprised 104 participants, found that aberrant salience was related to endorsing unconventional beliefs. With motivation, only the need for intimacy predicted endorsing unconventional beliefs. Irwin’s analysis discovered that need for intimacy was only relevant for new age beliefs, but not other unconventional beliefs.
Irwin, H. J. (2014).Aberrant salience and motivation as factors in the formation of belief in scientifically unaccepted phenomena. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 28, 633-645.
Many forms of alternative medicine believe in a bio-energy, some form of energy produced by the human body that can be used to effect healings. Previous research claims to have detected this energy around the heads of participants with the use of a mesh dome that is allowed to swing like a pendulum. Placing a human subject’s head under this dome has shown to alter it’s oscillations, without any obvious reasons as to why.
Earlier researchers have claimed that the altered behavior of the pendulum is due to bio-energy emitted from the head. The current work further shielded this pendulum with both devices to inhibit any form of air currents and use of a plastic helmet for participants to wear.
Results from these new tests showed that air did not affect the pendulum’s swing (i.e., results were the same as previous work). However, use of the plastic helmet removed all effects that were supposed to be due to bio-energy (i.e., the pendulum behaved as it normally would without a human participant). These researchers state that either the effect of previous studies was due to heat convection of the participant’s head, or that the theorized bio-energy is somehow blocked by plastic. The researchers here tend to believe that the former, and not the latter is most likely the case.
Van den Berg, W. H., & van der Sluys, W. G. (2015). The human bio-energy field detected by a torsion pendulum? The effect of shielding and a possible conventional explanation. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 29, 37-45.
One not so commonly known occurrence of the movement of objects with the mind (psychokinesis: PK) occurred with the interest of Felicia Parise. Having been exposed to the famous Russian PK producer Nina Kulagina, Felicia became determined to practice PK until she ultimately was able to move small objects with the power of her mind.
Felicia, under controlled conditions, was able to deflect compass needles (sometimes 360 degrees), and move corks or small vials of alcohol. Although done informally, several parapsychologists and stage magicians tested her under controlled conditions. Interestingly, some of her magnetic effects would persist for approximately ½ hour. Attempts to affect the compass by normal means (knives, or metal) would not work while the compass was nearby Parise. To this day, her documented movement of objects with the power of the mind has not been debunked or explained.
After a period of time, Felicia became weary of tests and conditions and decided to return to her career as a medical technician. The effects of moving objects made Felicia exhausted, and she would often be unable to coherently talk to others for several minutes after a demonstration of her ability. In the end, her curiosity was satisfied, and she was content to go back to a regular life free of magicians and parapsychologists.
Honorton, C. (2015). A moving experience. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 29, 62-74.
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Paranormal is Normal,
Work by McClenon examined if theories based on evolution would be verified by collecting a large community sample. The researcher examined specific expectations about survival and adaptability based on beliefs in the paranormal. These theories are referred to in this paper as “sheep”, “goat”, and “black sheep” in relation to these evolutionary tests.
The sheep theory claims that believers in the paranormal are mentally ill, but the benefits of hallucination or belief provide advantages in coping or in placebo effects for healing. The goat theory claims that paranormal belief is associated with primarily negative psychological and health for individuals and is not adaptive. The black sheep theory mixes the two and claims that despite disadvantages, paranormal belief can facilitate coping and positive outcomes.
In order to test these theories in the community, McClenon had participants answer many scales about mental functioning, paranormal belief and experience, and health and analyzed them to see what measures related most closely to each other. The results did support a relationship between types of mental illness and paranormal experiences (goat) but also showed that some psychological tendencies were associated with visions and possible healing (sheep). McClennon concludes that evidence for all three theories was present, but comments that evolutionary and biological research in this domain is limited.
McClennon, J. (2013). A community survey of anomalous experiences: Correlational analysis of evolutionary hypothesis. Journal of Parapsychology, 77, 55-78.
Although not known by the public, parapsychology has been plagued by criticism from mainstream science. Parapsychologists have always found this bias unfair, as the methods used in parapsychology are the exact same as those used in conventional science (and in many cases, more strict). Despite this, and a growing body of research that validates psychic ability, mainstream science denies the findings, and believes that parapsychology should be set to a different set of scientific standards.
Williams work reviews the debate over the validity of the evidence of psi. He debates that the research that looks at large numbers of psi studies (called meta-analysis), has sufficiently demonstrated that psi exists by professional scientific standards. Critics claim that different methods should be used to prove psi that uses different probabilities (a Bayesian analysis).
Williams provides a modified analysis method that he believes will satisfy critics. However, his core theme is that the evidence for psi is sufficient, and there are some dangers of abuse with other research methods. Ultimately, Williams claims that it is not the method, but scientists beliefs that are keeping psi research from reaching popular acceptance.
Williams, G. (2015). Are different standards warranted to evaluate psi? Journal of Parapsychology, 79, 186-202.