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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New publications: chapters from The Survival Hypothesis: Essays on Mediumship

Our Australian colleague Adam J. Rock recently edited and published an anthology titled The Survival Hypothesis: Essays on Mediumship and Windbridge Institute researchers contributed two chapters: “Advances in Quantitative Mediumship Research” (by Julie Beischel) and “Mediumship and its Place within Parapsychology” (by Julie Beischel, Mark Boccuzzi, and Edwin C. May). Below are excerpts from those chapters (and their citations).

Beischel, J. (2014). Advances in quantitative mediumship research. In A. J. Rock (Ed.), The Survival Hypothesis: Essays on Mediumship (pp. 177-195). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Excerpt from “Advances in Quantitative Mediumship Research” by Julie Beischel:

...This review of recent quantitative mediumship research demonstrates that a standard protocol is not being used during proof-focused studies of mediums. One group (Schwartz et al.) seemed to demonstrate psi with the living rather than communication with the deceased; two other research groups (Roy & Robertson, 2004, and Kelly & Arcangel, 2011) used multiple protocols with different methods and obtained positive results with some of them; one group (O’Keefe & Wiseman, 2005) obtained negative results and a second group (Jensen & CardeƱa, 2009) replicated that study and also obtained negative results. These study protocols included methodological shortcomings and none of them involved systematically pre-screening the medium participants prior to data collection to select for mediums actually able to report accurate and specific information under laboratory conditions. In addition, the studies did not effectively mimic the natural mediumship condition in order to examine it as it exists in reality...

In the spring of 2008, I published an extensive description of how we perform mediumship research at the Windbridge Institute (Beischel, 2007). I provided an extensive How To regarding reading protocols; the pairing and formatting of readings; blinding; the screening of medium and sitter participants; and a scoring system involving both holistic and atomistic methods. I noted that

ideally, contemporary laboratory- based mediumship research should include two equally important factors: (a) a research environment that optimizes the mediumship process for both the medium and the hypothesized discarnate in order to increase the probability of capturing the phenomenon, if it exists, in a laboratory setting, and (b) research methods that maximize the experimental blinding of the medium, the rater, and the experimenter in order to eliminate all conventional explanations for the reported information and its accuracy and specificity. Together, these two factors optimize the possibility of achieving positive results while also controlling for experimental artifacts [p. 40].

One anonymous reviewer commented that the paper would “serve a standard-setting function for future experiments, requiring investigators who depart from the methodological requirements to justify their departures.” Unfortunately, since the publication of this paper, no research groups that I know of have attempted to replicate these methods in their own labs, and those who have published mediumship studies using other protocols have failed to justify these departures...

The primary issues here are effective blinding and participant screening. Until we, as researchers, control for all sources of sensory information, even positive results are not convincing. In addition, negative results with unscreened mediums do not teach us anything about mediumship; only that the research method used may be flawed...

I strongly recommend that we, as a community, agree to use the Windbridge Institute methods to perform proof-focused studies or that someone publish another set of effective methods that we can all agree to use. Until mediumship researchers adopt a common protocol that has been shown to achieve positive results while controlling for all sensory sources of information, the limited time and resources available to study mediums will continue to be squandered.

Beischel, J., Boccuzzi, M., & May, E. C. (2014). Mediumship and its place within parapsychology. In A. J. Rock (Ed.), The Survival Hypothesis: Essays on Mediumship (pp. 275-284). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Excerpt from: “Mediumship and its Place within Parapsychology” by Julie Beischel, Mark Boccuzzi, and Edwin C. May

...Examining the mediumship process using modern methods and technologies provides a unique and specific endeavor within the field of parapsychology. The continued study of mediumship remains important for several reasons...

In this essay, we addressed the advantages of mediumship research within parapsychology; these advantages included a specialized participant population; psi as an integral part of the phenomenon; a collection of detailed experimental methods; large demonstrable effect sizes; an opportunity for researchers to confront their own biases; and a unique platform for addressing the survival of consciousness hypothesis. We also discussed the practical applications of the results of mediumship research; specifically, mediumship as a clinical treatment for acute grief and as a means for acquiring useful forensic information. These discussions have demonstrated the role of mediumship within parapsychology currently as well as going forward.

Click here to get your copy of The Survival Hypothesis: Essays on Mediumship today.

P.S. Upcoming workshop of potential interest:

Finding Ghosts:
Qualitative, Quantitative, Clinical, and Spiritual Approaches to Paranormal Investigation
A Windbridge Institute Workshop

Spend the day with parapsychologist Mark Boccuzzi, psychologist Chad Mosher, PhD, and psychic medium Dave Campbell on Saturday, July 12, 2014, at The Astrology Store in Glendale, Arizona, at this workshop designed for novice and seasoned investigators alike. Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion from the Windbridge Institute.

For more information, click here.