Monday, April 2, 2018

Other Evidence of Human Paranormal Abilities

Essentially all cases of paranormal psychic abilities are evidence that the human mind involves something more than just a brain. In an earlier post I reviewed the massive evidence for extra-sensory perception. There is also very significant evidence that humans can have an anomalous ability to sense future events.

Experimental evidence for human precognition has been gathered by by Cornell University emeritus professor Daryl Bem. The research was published in a peer-reviewed scientific publication, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The widely discussed paper was entitled, “Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect.”

In Experiment 1 described in the paper, subjects sat in front of a computer screen that displayed two images of a screen. The 100 subjects were told behind one of the screen was an image, and behind the other screen was nothing. The subjects were asked to guess which screen had the image behind it, during a series of trials running 20 minutes. When an erotic picture was used as the image behind the screen, subjects were able to guess correctly somewhat more often which screen had the image behind it. With erotic pictures, they guessed correctly 53% of the time, much more than the 50% expected by chance. With pictures that were not erotic, the subjects got results very close to the result expected by chance, 49.8%. Other similar experiments reported in the paper also got more statistically significant results.

Despite repeated claims by skeptics that these results have not been replicated, they have actually been well-replicated, as Bem has shown in a meta-analysis of similar experiments. His meta-analysis was published in the paper “Feeling the future: A meta-analysis of 90 experiments on the anomalous anticipation of random future events.” The meta-analysis can be found here

Bem's meta-analysis discussed 90 experiments from 33 laboratories in 14 different countries. The analysis reported an overall effect of p=1.2 X 10-10. Roughly speaking, this means the results had a probability of about 1 in 10 billion. This is a very impressive result, showing statistical significance millions of times stronger than what is shown in typical papers reported by mainstream media. A typical paper that gets covered by the press will have an effect of only about p=.01 or p=.05.

There is also episodic evidence from human experiences outside of the laboratory. Larry Dossey's book The Science of Premonitions is an excellent summary of such episodic evidence. Below are some of the very interesting accounts in that book.
  • A woman awoke at 2:30 AM, having had a nightmare that the chandelier above her baby's crib had fallen, crushing the child. In her dream she saw a clock with the numbers 4:35. She took the child out of the room with the chandelier, and brought the child to sleep with her. At 4:35 that morning, the chandelier did fall into the crib, exactly as in her dream.
  • William Cox researched train accidents between 1950 and 1955, and found that in every case the number of people traveling on the trains was less than the number who rode similar trains that did not crash, suggesting a possible precognitive ability of humans.
  • Quite a few people reported premonitions of the September 11, 2001 disaster before it happened. The four jet planes involved in the disaster had an average of only 21% of their seats filled, as if people had sensed something bad was going to happen.
  • On May 3, 1812, John Williams had the same dream three times in a single night: a very specific dream about someone assassinating Spencer Perceval, the British Prime Minister. Eight days later Perceval was assassinated, and several of the details matched William's dream.
  • A few days before he was assassinated, Abraham Lincoln had a dream that he would be assassinated.
  • The famous writer Mark Twain had a dream about the death of his brother that turned out to closely match what happened a few days later.
  • Several people had premonitions that something would go wrong on the Titanic before it sunk. One person who had a ticket on the ill-fated ship had two dreams that the ship would overturn, with passengers in the water.
  • In 1950 a church blew up in Beatrice, Nebraska, at a time when the church normally would have had a choir practice. Amazingly, no one was hurt, because the church was empty. We can only guess at how many of these people felt a premonition of doom, and avoided their regular choir practice.
  • According to research published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, dozens of people had premonitions of disaster before the Aberfan avalanche that killed 144 people. Some had dreams about such a disaster before it happened.
  • During World War II Winston Churchill had two premonitions that may have saved his life or those of others. One premonition led him to switch sides on his staff car. A bomb then went off near the side he moved away from. Another premonition led him to tell his kitchen staff to leave the kitchen and go underground. A bomb then destroyed the kitchen.
  • Lawrence Francis Boisseau had a dream that the World Trade Center was collapsing around him. Boisseau was killed in the attack.
On page 263 of the book Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government's Investigations Into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis by journalist Annie Jacobsen, we have an astonishing case of apparent precognition. The book states:

Out of Langford's mouth came a prophecy. “A United States Pentagon official would be kidnapped by terrorists on the evening of 17 December 1981.”....Langford said he saw the terrorists breaking into the Pentagon official's apartment, binding and gagging the man, and then kidnapping him. Even more specifically, Langford saw this high-ranking official being shoved inside a trunk and secreted in the back of a van.

Sure enough, on December 17, 1981 exactly such a thing happened to Brigadier General James L. Dozier, who was kidnapped by a terrorist group called the Red Brigades. The van even had the same color mentioned by Langford.

I was not at all surprised to read about Boisseau's dream of the World Trade Center collapsing, for I had such a dream myself, several months before September 11, 2001. It was a very simple dream. In my dream, first I was standing inside the World Trade Center, and then the floor collapsed underneath my feet. In the dream I saw myself plunging as the whole building seemed to collapse. That day I told my wife that I had dreamed that the World Trade Center had collapsed. Several months later I was in the World Trade Center when a jet plane hit, but I was able to escape before the whole building collapsed. This is the only dream I have ever had about a building collapsing.

This is only one of many cases in which there was an uncanny match between something I dreamed and something that occurred. According to a list, the most recent major earthquake in California was the Richter 6.0 quake of August 24, 2014, which caused over 300 million dollars of damage. About 4 hours before the earthquake, at about 2:00 AM I had a dream of a trash can mysteriously moving around on the floor, even though no one was touching it. I thought to myself: this might have been a dream of an earthquake tremor. Lying in my bed, I decided to send out a Tweet describing my dream – as soon as I woke up in the morning. When I woke up and checked the news, I saw it was too late – the earthquake had already occurred, a few hours after my dream.

One night I was eating dinner with my wife, watching the very entertaining and funny TV show The Carbonaro Effect. In this hidden camera reality TV show, magician Michael Carbonaro performs magic tricks in front of people who do not know that Michael is a magician and do not know that they are on TV.

I was watching the show in my living room, while my TV screen showed Carbonaro sitting with some other person at a table (I had not noticed they were in a room that was an office dining area). I went into my kitchen, where I could not see the show, and suddenly an idea popped into my head. It was an idea for something that would be very funny if it were done on The Carbonaro Effect show. My idea was that Michael Carbonaro could take a frozen fish and put it in a microwave oven, kind of saying, “I'm going to heat up my lunch now” in front of someone. Then when he opened the microwave door, there would be a live, moving fish about the same size as the fish he put in the microwave. I thought to myself: that would be very funny, to see something like that on this TV show.

I returned from my kitchen to the living room, to watch some more of the TV show. About 30 or 40 seconds later I saw Michael doing exactly what I had imagined. He took a frozen fish, and put it into the microwave. We saw the microwave oven apparently running, and then Michael appeared to take a live fish out of the microwave. He was saying something like, “Wow, I guess the fish came back to life,” or something to that effect. They might have done this trick by having a trick back door in the microwave, or maybe Michael had the live fish up his sleeve.

I had never seen the TV episode in question before, nor had I seen anything like it on any TV show. But my mind somehow managed to get the idea of exactly what was going to happen 30 or 40 seconds into the future – a totally weird and unpredictable type of thing. What are the odds of that happening by chance, maybe a million to one, or a billion to one?

The evidence for human precognition (cases of a paranormal foreknowledge of the future) is not as strong as the evidence for extra-sensory perception (ESP). But the evidence for human precognition is nonetheless an additional reason for concluding that the human mind has a source other than mere neurons.

There is also strong evidence for another human paranormal ability: what is known as remote viewing. Most of this evidence has been gathered by a surprising source: the US government itself.

Remote viewing seems to occur when a human uses only his mind to gather information about external locations. The US government became interested in this topic because it thought that such a technique would have military applications, particularly in intelligence gathering.

A surprising fact is that between 1975 and 1995 the United States spent many millions of dollars investigating psychic phenomena. The investigations originated out of fears of falling behind the Soviet Union in this area (the Soviets were believed to have a vigorous program of psychic research). The US programs went under a variety of names, including the famous STARGATE program to investigate remote viewing (the alleged ability of certain people to gain knowledge of remote locations through paranormal means).

In 1995 the government paid a group called the American Institutes for Research to evaluate the program. The group issued a report recommending that the research be canceled, and it was. But many thought there was something very strange about this sudden termination of the program. If the remote viewing programs had not been producing positive results, why were they funded for twenty years? If humans are not capable of remote viewing, it should have taken no more than twenty days to discover that through testing, not twenty years.

In fact, there is every reason to think that the US government investigations into psychic phenomena were extremely successful, in terms of providing substantial evidence for the reality of certain paranormal phenomena. The historical record indicates that the US government experiments on remote viewing did produce positive results time and time again. One remote viewer, Joe McMoneagle, was awarded a Legion of Merit award for his successful remote viewing. A remote viewer working for the US government was apparently able to detect details of a new type of Soviet sub before its existence was known to the US government. There were numerous other remarkable successes, some involving the famous psychic Ingo Swann. Swann was reported to have detected rings around Jupiter at a time before such rings had been discovered by US spacecraft.

What is also interesting is that the very American Institutes for Research report that led to a cancellation of the program contained quite a few pages indicating that it was actually successful. 

For example, on page 23 the report states the following (in a section written by University of California statistician Dr. Jessica Utts):

Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well established. The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance. Arguments that these results could be due to methodological flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted.

Then on page 35 of the report Dr. Utts reviews 154 experiments consisting of over 26,000 trials with 227 subjects. She says, “The statistical results were so overwhelming that results that extreme or more so would occur only about once in every 10
20 such instances if chance alone is the explanation.” This is a statement that you would have to run the experiments 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 times before you would get by chance a result as significant as the results that were achieved. On page 50 of the report, Dr. Utts concludes the following: 

It is clear to this author that anomalous cognition is possible and has been demonstrated. This conclusion is not based on belief, but rather on commonly accepted scientific criteria.

Journalist Annie Jacobsen has written an excellent new 500-page book entitled Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government's Investigations Into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis. The book is a very fascinating look into decades of governmental involvement in paranormal phenomena.

We are told on page 72 that in 1960 a Soviet scientist said this:

Today the American Navy is investigating telepathy on their atomic submarines. Soviet scientists conducted a great many successful telepathy tests over a quarter of a century ago.

On page 78 the book tells us that the Russian woman known as Nina Kulagina (born as Ninel Kulagina) was filmed apparently stopping the heart of a frog through psychokinesis. We are told, “The film caused uproar within the American defense community.” Page 79 tells us that in one test Kulagina attempted to increase the heart rate of a skeptical physician. An analyst wrote, “Abrupt changes were noted in both people [Kulagina and the skeptical physician] within one minute after the experiment began.”

Page 95 tells us that psychic Uri Geller said that the president of Egypt (Gamal Abdel Nasser) “had just died or is about to die,” at a time shortly before Nasser unexpectedly died of a heart attack. In a declassified documents obtained as part of a 2015 Freedom of Information Act, a researcher named Puharich claimed that he and another person had seen Geller “breaking a gold ring held in another person's clenched fist; concentrating on a pair of bimetal-type thermometers, and selectively making the temperature rise 6 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit on one or the other instrument; starting broken clocks and watches solely by concentration; moving the hands of a watch forward or backward without any physical contact with the watch,” and also “telepathy...with 90% accuracy in telepathy tests, where Dr. Puharich would think of a 3-digit number” (page 98).

The government funded lab tests of Geller, who did well in the clairvoyance tests reported here. Another psychic investigated by scientists using government funds was Ingo Swann. In one test with Swann, he was asked to describe a “superconducting-shielded magnetometer” he had never seen. At this time witnesses observed a strange disturbance in the output of the device, something they couldn't explain (page 134). In one impromptu test, a scientist found a small moth and placed it in a sealed box. Asked to describe what was in the box, Swann said it was something like a leaf, “except that it seems very much alive, like it's even moving” (page 136).

Under controlled laboratory conditions, Geller was able to guess the faces of unseen dice with an accuracy that had a chance probability of 1 in a million, while in another clairvoyance test he produced results with a chance probability of 1 in a trillion (page 143-144). A psychokinesis test involving Geller and some fancy scientific apparatus “indicated an apparent ability of Geller to affect the apparatus by an as yet unidentified means,” a scientist reported (page 144).

The government began to fund a program to test the feasibility of remote viewing, a process in which a person attempts by clairvoyance to obtain a physical description of a remote location. The program ended up being funded by the government for many years, because it continued to achieve impressive results. On page 161 a report is quoted on Pat Price's remote viewing of a secret location: “The names on the folders were correct...The location of the doors and the elevator, the number of floors, where the cabinets were located. The color of the cabinet was correct...It was all correct.”

Skeptics are fond of mentioning that Geller was unable to bend a spoon on the Johnny Carson show, but they neglect to discuss a later radio appearance on November 23, 1973 in which Geller asked for audience participation. Not only was Geller able to bend a spoon to the host's satisfaction, but phone calls started flooding in from the audience reporting things such as bent spoons in their houses or the hands of broken watches starting. Shortly thereafter a newspaper reported these results: “Clocks and watches restarted: a total of 1,031; forks and spoons bent or broken, a total of 293; other objects bent or broken: a total of fifty one.” (See page 174-176 of Jacobsen's book for details.)

The book includes some details of successes in remote viewing. On page 213 to 216 we are told about a remote viewer named Graff was apparently able to use a psychic “map dowsing” technique to specify the coordinates where a downed plane had crashed. Former president Jimmy Carter described the incident by saying:

[She] gave some latitude and longitude figures. We focused our satellite camera on that point and the plane was there.

On page 218 to 219 we have a story of how a psychic infuriated an army general. The government had hatched a plan to hide atomic missiles in a “shell game” setup in which the missiles would move around on rail tracks between different locations, making it hard for the Russians to guess where the missile was. But in a guessing simulation in which the chance of success was 10 percent per guess, a psychic was able to guess the correct location of the simulated moving missile 80% of the time. An infuriated general ordered a halt in ESP tests.

On page 235 to 236 we are told how Joe McMoneagle used remote viewing to psychically provide details of a new type of Soviet submarine, before anyone else in the US knew about them. The book says:

Joe McMoneagle had provided seminal information on the Typhoon submarine before any other intelligence asset in the United States. Fort Meades's Detachment G now had what is known in military and intelligence circles as an “intelligence first.”

On page 245 through 246 the book tells us about psychokenesis experiments in China:

A young girl could move an object across a desk using only her mind. Another could cause a flower bud inside a sealed jar to blossom in a matter of seconds. A boy could snap tree branches from a distance of several feet. Children with EHBF were tested in psychokinesis experiments. They could “turn the hands of watches, bend metal, break matches, and cause spontaneous combustion of flammable materials at the wave of a hand,” wrote an analyst with DIA.

On page 257 to 259 we are told that during the 1980's an American aerospace engineer named Jack Houck began hosting “spoon bending parties” in which people tried to bend spends by thought alone. Supposedly more than 1000 people were able to successfully bend spoons at such parties. This document in a recently declassified CIA repository describes these parties. The document says that when there was one helper between 20 people, the success rate would be between 80% and 100%.

Referring to PK (mind-over-matter psychokinesis) and “warm forming,” meaning a person experiencing heat in a spoon he is trying to bend through mind-over-matter, the document states this:

In the spring of 1983, Cynthia Siegel, a graduate student at the John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California did a survey of the first 800 people to attend Houck's PK Parties. Of the 311 people who returned her questionnaire, 72% believed that they experienced warm forming...A very high percentage of the people attending PK Parties now believed that PK really works.

Such an account should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the table-tipping phenomenon that was very popular for quite a few years during the nineteenth century. People used to gather together and put their hands on a table, urging the table to rise. Very often heavy tables would rise in a way no one could explain. You can see amazing demonstrations of such a thing by going to and searching for “table tipping.”

On page 263 of Jacobsen's book we are told this astonishing account:

Out of Langford's mouth came a prophecy. “A United States Pentagon official would be kidnapped by terrorists on the evening of 17 December 1981.”....Langford said he saw the terrorists breaking into the Pentagon official's apartment, binding and gagging the man, and then kidnapping him. Even more specifically, Langford saw this high-ranking official being shoved inside a trunk and secreted in the back of a van.

Sure enough, on December 17, 1981 exactly such a thing happened to Brigadier General James L. Dozier, who was kidnapped by a terrorist group called the Red Brigades. The van even had the same color mentioned by Langford.

On page 321 we are told of a remote viewing session in which Angela Dellafiora described with remarkable accuracy a randomly chosen target. On page 333 to 334 we are told how the US government apparently used Uri Geller to try to psychically influence a Soviet official so that he would support an arms control treaty, one the Soviets did agree to support. We are told on page 10 of this document (from a CIA repository) that “Dellafiora eschewed remote-viewing and instead 'channeled' her psychic data through a group of entities named 'Maurice' and 'George.'”

On page 343-345 of the book we are told of a case of a remote viewer named Paul Smith employed by the government to obtain information through clairvoyance. On May 15, 2017 he described an incident similar to what happened to the USS Stark two days later.

On page 358-360 we are told how Dellafiora said that a fugitive (believed to be out of the country) was in "Lowell, Wyoming." When informed that there was no such town, but only a Lovell, Wyoming, Dellafiora said, "That's probably it." After the fugitive was found, it was determined that he had actually been in Lovell, Wyoming.

Government-sponsored remote viewing investigations such as the StarGate project were supposedly closed down in the 1990's, although we have no idea whether such research is continuing in secret. On page 380 of Jacobsen's book we are told the government embarked in 2014 on a multi-million dollar program to explore premonition and intuition, so that sailors and Marines can make better use of it.

As Jacobsen's mesmerizing book documents, evidence for paranormal phenomena is very strong. Skeptics use two techniques to try to sweep such evidence under the rug. The first technique is simply the technique of "total denial," in which they dishonestly state that there is "no evidence whatsoever" for such phenomena. Another technique is for skeptics to invent imaginative explanations trying to account for the facts. As Jacobsen notes on page 173, an article in New Scientist tried to account for ESP in people like Geller by suggesting that Geller was using a radio receiver implanted in his tooth. Will our skeptics next be telling us that secretly implanted bionic fingers are behind all the cases of spoon bending?

The CIA recently declassified a set of documents that include extensive references to paranormal activies. An interesting paper in the CIA documents can be found here. It discusses a Chinese practice called qigong, and claims that 20 million people were practicing it by the 1980's. (The Washington Post describes qigong as "a 5000-year old Eastern healing art.") The paper discusses some “qigong masters.” A man named Zhang Baosheng is described as having the ability to read sealed envelopes, remove small insects from sealed bottles, burn cloth with a touch of his fingers, and write a message on a paper sealed in a box. The paper asserts: “Countless tests were performed, all under tightly controlled conditions, and their results published without a single attempted fraud.”

Another paper discusses efforts in China during the 1980's to find children with “extraordinary functions of the human body” (EFHB). We are told “many hundreds of children with EFHB were found throughout the nation.” A test in Beijing of ESP in children around age 10 reported that 40 to 63 percent of children around age 10 were found to have EFHB “to some extent.”

There is mention of the same person figuring prominently in the previously mentioned report, Zhang Baosheng. The report says he could “perform incredible miracles.” We are told, “Zhang caused objects, such as someone's photo identification card or personal name stamp to move to another room which had not been entered, or caused a torn personal letter to be restored to a single piece.” The paper also claims that Zhang could remove from sealed bottles (in a paranormal manner) things such as insects or small pills.

The paper also says that another “qigong master” named Yan Xing was associated with many paranormal healings, and “performed various transformations of the physical characteristics of samples at a distance of several meters,” also doing the same thing at a distance of 2000 kilometers.

Another 100-page document discussed Chinese paranormal research, while also advancing some interesting philosophical ideas. On page 11 the document says:

There were a number of experiments called “psychokinesis” experiments where the subject with paranormal abilities would turn the hand of watches, bend metal, break matches, pluck off well as cause exposure of sealed unexposed film, and “spontaneous combustion” of some flammable materials with the wave of a hand, without touching the materials in the experiment. Successes in these experiments followed one after another.

All of the evidence mentioned in this long post counts as evidence that your mind comes from some source other than the brain. There is no way in which a brain could be producing phenomena such as precognition, telekinesis, clairvoyance and remote-viewing. But if your mind is not produced by your brain, but by some other unknown reality, then it could have such powers.

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