Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Triple-blind mediumship experiment published

Gary Schwartz and Julie Beischel of the University of Arizona recently published a very well designed study of the ability of mediums to provide anomalous information about deceased people. Here is the abstract:

Context: Investigating the information reported by mediums is ultimately important in determining the relationship between brain and consciousness in addition to being of deep concern to the public.

Objective: This triple-blind study was designed to examine the anomalous reception of information about deceased individuals by research mediums under experimental conditions that eliminate conventional explanations.

Participants: Eight University of Arizona students served as sitters: four had experienced the death of a parent; four, a peer. Eight mediums who had previously demonstrated an ability to report accurate information in a laboratory setting performed the readings.

Methodology: To optimize potential identifiable differences between readings, each deceased parent was paired with a same gender deceased peer. Sitters were not present at the readings; an experimenter blind to information about the sitters and deceased served as a proxy sitter. The mediums, blind to the sitters’ and deceased’s identities, each read two absent sitters and their paired deceased; each pair of sitters was read by two mediums. Each blinded sitter then scored a pair of itemized transcripts (one was the reading intended for him/her; the other, the paired control reading) and chose the reading more applicable to him/her.

Results: The findings included significantly higher ratings for intended versus control readings (p = 0.007, effect size = 0.5) and significant reading-choice results (p = 0.01).

Conclusions: The results suggest that certain mediums can anomalously receive accurate information about deceased individuals. The study design effectively eliminates conventional mechanisms as well as telepathy as explanations for the information reception, but the results cannot distinguish among alternative paranormal hypotheses, such as survival of consciousness (the continued existence, separate from the body, of an individual’s consciousness or personality after physical death) and super-psi (or super-ESP; retrieval of information via a psychic channel or quantum field).

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