Become a Rhine Sustaining Supporter
Become a Rhine Sustaining Supporter
EDGE OF SCIENCE, the quarterly newsletter of the Society for Scientific Exploration, just published a new issue, which includes my article “Harnessing the Paranormal Community.”
While directed at parapsychologists and other peers, colleagues and academics who are generally aware of the rise of the ghost hunting groups, paranormal enthusiasts and even the “paranormal community,” it should also be of interest to people in that community.
There is a great disconnect between the scientific community and the paranormal community.
Time to bridge the gap!
Dr. Dean Radin has created a new page with links to papers providing some of the best evidence for the existence (and form) of psi (psychic phenomena and abilities). From the list, one can download the papers for free.
These are “Selected Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications on Psi Research.”
Also on the page are links to websites with access to additional papers, and a list of recent books recommended to get one “up to speed” on Psi Research.
According to Radin, there will be additional papers added as time goes on, so check back often.
Back in 1993, Warner Books published my third book, Reincarnation, Channeling and Possession: A Parapsychologist’s Handbook. Long out of print, I recently brought it back as an ebook for Kindle and Nook. As I’m helping a television production company look for possible cases of the reincarnation type, focusing on children who remember previous lives, I thought that putting a chapter of that book up here on my website makes some good sense. [Click HERE for a post on what the show is looking for]
The following is the second piece of the chapter. Part one appears here.
Section Two: Reincarnation. Chapter Three: Field Investigation and Evidence. From REINCARNATION, CHANNELING AND POSSESSION: A PARAPSYCHOLOGIST’S HANDBOOK by Loyd Auerbach, MS. Copyright 2012, 1993 by Loyd Auerbach. May not be copied without permission.
Note: This was originally written in 1992/1993, published in 1993. It has not been updated.
FIELD INVESTIGATION AND EVIDENCE
Let’s look at a related concept. PARAMNESIA is a confusion of memory often having to do with the timing of facts as they occurred versus how they are remembered to have occurred. For example, there is usually a lengthy delay between the time a child starts speaking of a previous life and when an investigator learns of the case and interviews the family. In that time, the family may have taken it upon themselves to check out the “facts” reported by the child, and may even have brought the child to visit the previous family.
The problem of paramnesia occurs if the family failed to write down or record what the child related about his or her previous life before they began checking things out. It is not uncommon for everyone to confuse what was originally reported by the child with what they learn about the identified prior personality. In other words, were the individual details spoken of first by the child, or were they learned by the child as they were learned by the child’s family?
Researchers of these cases are most interested in learning of any source of possible contamination of the information. Both cryptomnesia and paramnesia are potential sources of contamination. Cryptomnesia is unlikely under the conditions mentioned above, and paramnesia is less a possibility if the parents keep records of everything the child says before doing anything about checking the information. However, the problem of contamination becomes an important one if there are no records and the families of the current individual and the previous personality have already met by the time the investigator arrives.
According to Stevenson and Samararatne:
”In a culture having a belief in reincarnation a child who seems to speak about a previous life will be encouraged to say more. What he says then leads his parents somehow to find another family whose members come to believe that the child has been speaking about a deceased member of their family. The two families exchange information about details, and they end by crediting the subject with having had much more knowledge about the identified deceased person than he really had had.”7
Parental expectation is an important thing to consider. While characteristics such as I’ve quoted from Stevenson earlier help parents identify a child as a previous personality, the identification, especially without a specific name, may be quite interpretive on the part of the adults. If the parents are predisposed towards believing in reincarnation, especially in a society where the belief is that all are reincarnated, the parents may be looking for signs of a prior personality and label whatever they can as evidence of such a person. If there is an announcing dream, there may be a tendency to treat the child in such a way as to foster the signs of that previous personality.
People tend to have their expectations fulfilled. Parents who are looking for their children to have had past lives will often find this, even if the child doesn’t originate such a conclusion. In some cases, the child might consciously fulfill the recognized expectations of the parents. Often it is unconscious. Anthropologist Antonia Mills of the University of Virginia has discussed such unconscious constructs on the part of the child.8 A prior personality may be the interpretation given to childhood fantasies. It may be adopted as a response to “complex family dynamics,” or as a method of gaining attention. The child may not be deliberate in constructing this other personality. Rather, this phenomenon may flow from the familial situation, from the parental and cultural expectations, or from parental reinforcement as a method of gaining attention. The investigator needs to consider not only sources of information outside and inside the family, but also just how and why the parents identified their child as having had a prior existence or past life.
I mentioned earlier that childhood fantasy is an explanation that can be considered. However, in most situations where this might be involved, it’s more likely the parents who interpret the child’s play as related to a past life rather than the child who makes a declaration that this is so. Of course, this may happen if the child picks up, consciously or subconsciously, on the reincarnation beliefs of the parents. With the duration of the cases though, fantasy is less than likely. Consider that the child would have to fantasize about having had a previous existence, often as an adult with adult behaviors, rather than simply pretending to be this other person. Consider as well the factual validity of some of the information, and the fact that childhood fantasies fade a lot faster than past‑life memories do. As we’ve seen, even the unsolved cases exhibit features that are difficult to dismiss as fantasy.
Let’s move on to the issue of fraud. Fraud is an ugly issue that is raised by critics of any experience that is even remotely related to paranormal beliefs. However, one must look at the motivations that might spur the child, parents, or both to claim the child has had a past life. While a child might enjoy the additional parental attention that results from his or her claims of having lived before, keep in mind that these cases typically go on for years. It is unlikely that the child would need to (or even could) sustain a fraud for several years. In addition, it’s doubtful that a two or three‑year‑old could come up with this on his or her own. There would have to be parental interpretation.
There are very few payoffs for families claiming spontaneous past‑life recall by their children. As with situations where individuals or families report poltergeist or apparitional experiences, there is little to be gained (unless you sell your story to the tabloids, of course). Since most of these cases occur in less developed areas where there is little chance of press coverage for such cases (though there is quite a bit of it in Sri Lanka), the publicity or fame angle yields almost nothing. It may be that the family gains some local notoriety, but nothing that would be considered sufficient cause to make the whole thing up.
Financial gain is also unlikely. Unless an impoverished family (of the current persona) were to connect with a wealthier one (previous personality) and have the situation fully accepted, it is hard to imagine any way for them to get financial remuneration from reporting the case. In addition, it would take an enormous amount of research (like that conducted by the investigators) to put together a good enough fraud (and brief the child well enough) to convince not only the family and friends of the previous personality but the investigators as well. Of course, if you really want to find fraud, you can always plead “conspiracy.” I think not.
Another explanation suggested for these cases is genetic memory. If we assume that memory might be transferable through genetics, there still has to be some genetic connection between the past and present individuals. It is unlikely, for example, for Uncle Harry’s memories to be reborn in little Bobby, unless of course it was Uncle Harry who was the biological father of Bobby. In other words, in order for this to happen, there has to be some sort of direct lineal descent to make the transfer of the genetic material possible. Similarly, a child claiming to be her grandmother reborn ought not to remember any experiences of that grandmother after the date of birth of her mother. If there’s genetic memory transfer, how can that include memories from a time after the genetic material was transferred to the next generation? Although some rare cases across centuries could include a familial connection in which the previous personality was an ancestor of the current person, most of the reported cases don’t include a genetic link.
One of the main alternative explanations that has gained favor over the years is the possibility that these recollections are rooted in psi‑derived information. An ESP retrieval of the factual information might explain much in these cases -‑ then again, it may not. Let me discuss this just a bit, although I’ll be covering a super‑psi explanation for all three forms of experience addressed in this book in Section Five.
In parapsychological research and in spontaneous psi experiences, there often seems to be an indication that psi works without regard to limits of space/distance of time. In other words, reported experiences often bring information from across vast distances, as well as through time itself. Clairvoyance or remote-viewing experiences and experiments yield information flow from distances anywhere from the next room to the next city to continents away. Telepathy and general ESP experiments were conducted by astronaut Edgar Mitchell from aboard Apollo 14 with the “receiver” here on Earth (although the experiment yielded psi‑missing). Precognition seems to indicate that information transfer occurs from some undetermined future to our present. People capable of “reading” the history of an object — psychometry ‑‑ often come up with verifiable information. Retrocognition, like precognition, brings information through time, but from the past.
If a child or adult is capable of retrocognition, the past‑life information that comes into consciousness may actually be additional information brought into the memory from external rather than internal sources. It may be that such retrocognitively retrieved information is the root source of many reincarnation experiences. The mind of the receiver may simply misinterpret this extra information as actual memory. Since the information doesn’t fit with current life experience, it is identified as memory from a past life.
The information may be verifiable, given that if it were retrieved through retrocognition, it came from a very real past. On the other hand, with no apparent limits on clairvoyant, real-time ability, the information may have come from current sources. In other words, the individual “remembering” a past life may be retrieving descriptive information from a distant location, perhaps even including information drawn from the very records that will be used by the investigators to verify it. If the individual is also using telepathic ability, some of that information may be drawn from relatives and friends of the person to be identified as the prior personality.
All of this is an alternate hypothesis not only to reincarnation but also to a number of other survival‑related experiences. Because of the apparent lack of limits in this hypothesis, it’s often known as a SUPER‑ESP or SUPER‑PSI HYPOTHESIS.
Stevenson and others have pointed out a number of difficulties in applying such a super‑psi explanation to reincarnation experiences, especially those involving children. Probably most important is the fact that psi is not shown to be in evidence in the individual’s experience in any other way. In other words, the child recalling that past life shows no sips of other psi experiences or abilities. Only the past‑life memories could fall under that heading. Given what we know about psi, it is highly unlikely that it would behave for that individual in such a single-minded way. In addition, the duration of the past‑life memories (how long they stick with the child) is so much longer and in such greater detail than other reported psi experiences that it is a stretch to apply the psi label to reincarnation.
That many of the subjects display unusual skills brings up another point refuting the use of super‑psi in these cases. Again, in looking at the vast number of spontaneous psi experiences, skills (and even deep-seated phobias and strung attractions) don’t show up as psi‑derived information; the content of such an information transfer would likely be too complex. The super‑psi hypothesis would almost have to be some other form of ESP for it to completely cover the cases such as those studied by Stevenson and other researchers.
Another problem in accepting this hypothesis comes from the recognition that those of us who have even very complex, informative psi experiences do not experience these as memories. Instead, we usually have a hard time identifying the source. In reincarnation cases, the individuals clearly see the information as related to a past life. Of course, the child could be led to believe the information is from his or her memory, but there are many cases where the parental expectation and influence is nil because of a lack of reincarnation belief in that culture or religion.
How we the targets selected if this is psi? In other words, how does the mind of a child decide who to center in on as the super-psi target? How is it that the targets are deceased persons? If super‑psi were operating in these cases, at least some of them should mistakenly bring in memories of someone currently living. Could the subjects be telepathically drawing information from an apparition of that personality? This still leaves the skill and xenoglossy questions unanswered. Also, the fact that the memories seem limited to a single person additionally weakens the super‑psi explanation.
Can super‑psi explain the transfer of birthmarks? A much more plausible explanation is that if there is some transfer of ‘”soul” to a new fetus from the prior personality, the prior personality may exert some psychokinetic influence on the developing fetus to manifest a mark. In other words, this soul or spirit is helping to create some semblance or relationship to the previous physical body. Since this personality now inhabits the new form, the continuity of memory from infancy through childhood is easier to accept as a possible explanation than super‑psi.
Again, the experiential difference is very important. There is a continuity of existence experienced by the individual who recalls a past life. With psi experience, no such continuity exists. There are clear demarcations. Of course, Stevenson and others have suggested that perhaps the “memories” are those of a psychic dream. An individual may experience the psi‑derived information in a dream, the point of view being that the dreamer is that person who is the target of the information. The memory may be that of a dream in which the individual was the prior personality. But, the factors of duration of the memories, the lack of other psi experiences (the lack of other psychic dreams), the focus of the memories on one person, and the birthmarks erode the value of dream memory as an explanation.
It has also been suggested that perhaps this is a particularly specific form of psi experience, which may be combined with other explanations. Combining ESP with cryptomnesia ‑‑ especially if one also brings in paramnesia and parental expectation and even fantasy as parts of the equation -‑ may create an acceptable psi explanation. However, there are still problems with the physical attributes and skill (and language) transfer, since such an explanation doesn’t fully cover them.
Reincarnation seems to be the simplest explanation. That is, unless, as Stephen Braude has recently pointed out, one considers the fact that we have little knowledge of the limits of psi. Psi abilities may, in reality, be capable of complex tasks that might simulate reincarnation and past‑life memories. And since we have more direct evidence of psi, it may be that the super‑psi hypothesis is actually simpler to accept than reincarnation. This debate has really only just begun.
Stevenson has also discussed another paranormal explanation: outside influence by a spirit or entity. In other words, could the “memories” be a transfer of information from an apparition to the child (cases of channeling or mediumship), or might these cases even be examples of possession? (Are you beginning to see connections between the three paranormal categories we’re exploring in this book?)
Throughout history, mediums and channelers have typically been adults, but there have been many cases of children as vehicles for information from discarnate entities. In some respects, using mediumship or channeling as an explanation for reincarnation is superior to using the super‑psi hypothesis, given that if a spirit were to enter the body of a living person, the personality of the spirit would show through, possibly even reflecting physical and language skills.
By defining possession as a spirit entering the body of a living person without that person’s permission, taking over all functions of the body and supplanting the living personality, one might stretch the experience to fit reincarnation. One way of looking at reincarnation is as a possession of a fetus by a discarnate entity. This personality that has survived death takes over the new human form, which, for all we know, might not have a soul to supplant. If one believes reincarnation is a recycling of existing souls, then this form of possession is reincarnation, and vice versa. Of course, most definitions of possession include a takeover of the body and a pushing aside of the soul already living in that body. Therefore, could it be that the possessing spirit enters the body well after birth and that the “memory” of a past life is just this possessing personality talking?
While this brings an interesting twist to the reincarnation question, as does using channeling or mediumship as an explanation for reincarnation, all three fail on several counts. First of all, with most mediumistic and channeling experiences, altered states of consciousness (ASC) accompany the visiting personality. These states of consciousness do not seem to accompany spontaneous past‑life recall. With channeling, there is also an awareness that the visiting spirit is there by permission. In the reincarnation experience, the individual has memories of being that prior personality and being reborn; there is no sense that someone has merely dropped in for a time. The duration of the past‑life memories also seems to argue against accepting this as an explanation.
With possession as a displacement of a living personality, there is no continuity from a past life. The possessing entity is from the outside, and according to such reports, behaves as a different personality rather than as the current personality’s memories of a past life. The fact that the memories of the past life fade out again throws a monkey wrench into this explanation. Here, as well, the duration issue is an important one. Given that these cases exhibit certain universal characteristics with regard to the ages at which the memories begin to manifest as well as when the memories fade, to consider (them as cases of) possession would be to believe that a possessing entity has a limited time period in which to possess the child before the child’s real personality comes through. Unlikely.
Most important in distinguishing reincarnation from any sort of spirit medium/possession hypothesis is the experience of the subjects themselves in describing what’s going on. They are remembering past lives. They are not speaking as outsiders who have taken over (with or without permission). They were the prior personality and they are now the current one ‑- this suggests a continuity of lives simply not present in channeling, mediumship, or possession cases.
Although clearly Stevenson has thoroughly investigated his cases and, as reviewed here, thought out a wide range of possible explanations, some have been critical of his field investigations. A primary concern is that not all of the cases (far from it) have been investigated by Stevenson directly, or by his immediate group of researchers at the University of Virginia. However, based on Stevenson’s and Alvarado’s descriptions of their work with their field investigators around the world, the investigators would appear to be fairly well trained in searching out all sources of potential contamination and fraud.
Stevenson’s critics have raised two other important questions.
The first is whether Stevenson and company “beautify” their work. In other words, comments have been made to suggest that not all details are available in the case reports, and that some details that might refute the cases were left out. Of course, this is a criticism that could be leveled at any field investigator, whether in parapsychology, anthropology, or sociology. To suggest that Stevenson or any field investigator leaves out details for the purpose of making the case stronger requires proof of such activities and such proof is not evident.
The second question relates to the method by which Stevenson records the information gathered. Apparently, even in these high-tech days, Stevenson still prefers taking notes by hand rather than using a tape recorder. As a field investigator myself, I am aware that unless you write very fast (perhaps shorthand), it’s tremendously difficult to get all the information down at the same time you’re trying to make and record personal observations. Given the number of times I’ve been misquoted by reporters, whose job is to take notes of what is happening and to report it accurately, I have a hard time accepting that all the details can be recorded by hand‑writing notes. But does this mean we have to dismiss his case studies? No, I wouldn’t say that. For example, if there is more than one investigator present, each taking notes, these notes can be compared, thereby picking up additional details a single note‑taker might have missed.
Based on the number of cases out there recorded by Stevenson (and undoubtedly an even greater number that are unreported or uninvestigated), and given the consistent features of the cases (both the universal attributes and the culturally bound and culturally consistent ones), there really does seem to be something going on that at the very least suggests reincarnation. The weight of the evidence, given the lengths to which investigators have gone in order to eliminate other explanations and possible contaminations, cannot be ignored.
But even Stevenson considers these cases (at least in the way he reports them) only “suggestive” of reincarnation, rather than as proof of it. Proof is a very difficult thing with reincarnation, as it is, we’ve learned, with human consciousness in general. However, given the number of cases out there, these are mighty “suggestive.”
In any event, these cases are more than a bit interesting. What’s a real shame is that unless those interested seek out the journals or hard‑to‑find volumes that report these cases (and I heartily encourage you to do so), the information most readily available to the curious is related to the past‑life experiences that are brought on through hypnotic regression. Let’s take a brief look at regression to past lives and why parapsychologists have a hard time accepting them as any sort of evidence of past lives. We’ll also look at where regression can be more appropriately applied and useful. [NOTE: to read more, pick up my ebook for Nook or for Kindle (see below)]
7. Stevenson and Samararatrie, “Three New Cases,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 2, no. 2, 1988, p. 237.
8. Mills, Antonia. “A Replication Study: Three Cases of Children in Northern India Who Are Said to Remember a Previous Life,” Journal Of Scientific Exploration, vol. 3, no. 2, 1989.
Things that Make Me Go “Aaarrrggghhh”
This one’s a little different…a commentary on some issues that keep popping up from the “Paranormal Community” that get my blood going more than a little.
1) “There are no experts on the paranormal….”
Over the last 10 years, I’ve often hear this statement made by individuals at events, on blogs, on podcasts and even seen it in their books. They state this because, they say, there are so many questions about the phenomena we are trying to study (they seem to leave out the word experience), and no absolute proof of even the existence of psychic phenomena.
Correct. There are many questions about the phenomena AND the experiences. But clearly people have been having these experiences in some fashion since time immemorial, AND since the 19th Century, researchers and others have been collecting and investigating the experiences, both outside the lab (in “real life”) and under controlled conditions in the laboratory.
However, we in Parapsychology/Psychical Research HAVE learned much about the patterns of the experiences, about alternative, normal (though sometimes esoteric) explanations for some of the reports and experiences, the apparent behavior of the phenomena, and even some connections to environmental conditions. We have models for the phenomena which, if funding were properly available, are at least somewhat testable. We have hypotheses and even theories which can be tested.
So, when considering people educated in Parapsychology – whether via academic work or by participating in actual scientific research (this does not count most ghost hunting, by the way) – how are they NOT experts? Sure, people in my field have various strengths of experience and knowledge. My focus has been on spontaneous experiences (outside the lab), including apparitions, hauntings, and poltergeists, but I know much about laboratory studies and findings. Others of my colleagues have expertise in experiences and research of remote viewing, psychokinesis, mediumship, and so on.
More maddening, however, is the fact that most of the folks stating “there are no experts” are doing it from a platform that somehow denotes “expertise.” They are main speakers at ghost events. They are authors. They are TV stars of ghost hunting shows. So, there are no experts except “me” – is that what they’re saying?
On top of it all, most of them often deny the need to know anything about Parapsychology – the only Science to actually study this stuff. Most of them denigrate some of the people in my field, or have never even heard of the top researchers/investigators. Or they have clearly misinterpreted or purposely changed the models, methodologies, and such they attribute to parapsychologists in order to make them fit their own models, methods, etc.
Or they tout how many investigations they’ve done (or for how many years), as if that gives them expertise….
It might, but with no understanding of what folks in my field already concluded, the mistakes made and corrected (the mistakes often being repeated by the “newbies”).
And remember: 30 years of bad methodology or bad assumptions is BAD experience. Makes one an expert in bad investigations and false conclusions, not any sort of expert on the phenomena.
2) I was recently shown an email statement from someone in a ghost hunting group that is similar to those I’ve heard/seen before: “Anyone who tries to sell you on classes or certifications is disreputable.”
Okay, this one I need to take in two parts. First, the “certification” issue.
I’ve made it clear again and again that one cannot be “certified” as a “ghost hunter,” or “paranormal investigator” and especially not as a “parapsychologist.” Certification implies a level of expertise in a subject or application of knowledge or in an activity, that the individual has passed some kind of testing to get certified, and that the person/body offering “certification” is empowered (legally and more importantly, ethically) to do so.
Most people who have never gone through a certification program (e.g.. in a Microsoft product, or a particular practice method in psychology, medicine, nursing, etc.) might have no clue as to what “certification” implies. In other words, some people offering certification simply are ignorant, not “disreputable.”
On the other hand, there are those who have demonstrated other behavior that might put them in that negative category. Some have been clearly advised that without approval by an established body such as the Parapsychological Association or even the Rhine Research Center or the Society for Psychical Research, or an actual academic source, the “certification” is relatively worthless – especially when it’s for being a “parapsychologist” when the actual materials don’t even have content from the field (more often than one would even believe). They have not corrected this issue, and therefore are doing what they’re doing in a knowing way, no longer in ignorance.
As for me, I continually have to correct people asking me about or referring to my own Parapsychological Studies Program (through HCH Institute) as a “certification.” It’s not, and it’s never been. It’s a series of non-academic courses providing a deep introduction to several major areas of Parapsychology, and completing all the courses earns the students a “Certificate of Completion” (kind of a non-academic diploma). A certificate is not the same as a certification.
As to the second part, dealing with classes …
I’ve heard many say something as the quote above, or more commonly “you can’t teach this stuff.”
To which I have to reply: Any class in any arena of human endeavor is only as good as the person who put it together and/or teaches it, and the content of the class.
Parapsychology/Psychical Research as an over 130 year history. Courses in the subject have been and continue to be taught at accredited universities in many countries, though sadly the US has fallen behind in the number of colleges offering even a single course due to severe academic prejudice (the UK leads the pack). Courses have and continue to be at the graduate school level, not just the undergrad.
I not only went through a full academic, accredited university graduate program in Parapsychology (JFK University had one from the late 70s until the late 80s), I ended up back at the university after graduation teaching several of those graduate level courses, including a field investigations class.
Others in my field have taught university classes in field investigations, or at least covering the phenomena and experiences of apparitions, hauntings and poltergeists.
Such a statement comes from someone with an agenda of their own (or, if I’m to be charitable, somebody who’d been “taken” by a phony at some point and is too embarrassed to admit it). Perhaps the agenda is to turn people away from the possibility of learning something very real as opposed to what they’ve learned from other ghost hunters (or heaven forbid, from the TV shows). Perhaps it’s because they have been taken in by ghost hunters who learned their “craft” from watching paranormal shows and taught crappy courses (always seeming to miss anything about Parapsychology).
Or perhaps it’s because they want people to come to them for information, like the people who claim there are no experts.
Personally, I’ve been dedicated to educating the general public about Parapsychology, to helping to off-set the often fearful images of ghosts and such, to educate the members of the media to really look at the questions inherent in psychic experiences (which include poltergeists, ghosts, and hauntings). I push hard against the ignorance of my field in an ever growing “community” that claims to want to study the phenomena, to prove its existence, but seems to be resistant to even considering that there’s a history, literature, and group of scientists who’ve been doing this for more than 100 years longer than their favorite TV shows.
I’ve often felt like I’m beating my head against a brick wall, and statements like the ones quote here just give me more of a headache.
Sometimes I just want to be like William Shatner on the classic Saturday Night Live sketch telling over-the-top Trekkies to “Get a Life!”
There’s more, but this is enough of a rant for now. But one last comment…
Ask questions of the speakers, the “experts,” the “scientific investigators,” the authors and those teaching classes (and certainly those offering “certifications”).
Ask questions of ME. I’m always happy when someone is consumer-smart enough to ask questions like “what do I really get out of taking your classes?” and “why are you qualified to teach these classes or call yourself an expert?”
That leads to a conversation. Conversation is good. Blanket statements are not (hmmm…that’s a blanket statement in itself, so maybe that’s not good…. :-)
The Academic Route to Professional Parapsychology
Guest post by Linda Forshaw
At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking that mainstream science and parapsychology have little in common. Indeed a bias against acceptance of the validity of parapsychological research has often led to the closure of academic parapsychology laboratories in the U.S.
Although there are still a number of private institutions and organizations conducting parapsychological research, just two public universities in the U.S. currently have laboratories of this kind: The Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health at the University of Arizona and the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia, and no colleges or universities have degree programs in the field of Parapsychology in the United States.
So how does one become a professional parapsychologist with limited study opportunities available? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer could actually lie with mainstream science. One possible route to a professional career in the field of parapsychology is similar to that of the study of any academic field – in that it typically involves between two and three stages.
The first stage many students will undertake is that of a Bachelors degree; typically in psychology, but may also be within the fields of physics or cultural anthropology. The length of study is three to four years. The second (optional) stage is that of a Masters of Science/Masters of Art degree studied for a period of between one and two years. The third (also optional) stage is that of a Doctoral degree (Ph.D). Most already in the field strongly suggest either the M.S./M.A. or Ph.D. to move into the field.
Some students will have encountered some opportunity to take courses in parapsychology during the Bachelors and Masters stages, as there are a number of colleges and universities and a few reputable organizations that offer a course in or related to the subject. In some Masters’ programs, work can be directed at a parapsychological topic, provided at least some faculty are open to the subject’s exploration. However, it is mainly during the three to five year Doctoral stage that the majority of opportunities to focus on parapsychology will occur.
It’s a not insignificant commitment that can involve up to eleven years of study. With that level of commitment in mind it goes without saying that a parapsychology student should be fully committed and sure of their interest in the field. There are a number of ways in which this can be achieved.
A must is to read “An Introduction to Parapsychology” by Harvey Irwin and Caroline Watt (5th Edition, 2007). Covering subjects including extrasensory perception, psychokinesis, reincarnation, and poltergeist experiences, the book offers an excellent all-round introduction to parapsychology from an academic perspective and is considered the core text for many teaching in the field of parapsychology.
It is also important to stay abreast of current developments from relevant professional bodies. The Parapsychological Association is an excellent place to start. Founded in 1957, publications of interest include the Mindfield Bulletin and the Journal of Parapsychology. Aspirational guidelines concerning ethical and professional standards for parapsychologists are also provided.
Also worth considering is how the Internet has opened up the possibility for students to take distance learning courses from institutions based both in the U.S. and overseas. A number of universities in the U.K. actually have Parapsychology offered on-site, and it’s likely online versions of the course will follow. Atlantic University in Virginia Beach, VA, currently offers one course online, for academic or continuing education credit, though it can also be taken by anyone even if no credit is needed.
One of the most highly recommended of such distance learning courses is “An Introduction to Parapsychology,” taught by the internationally respected Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. Closer to home is The Rhine Research Center, which, through its various research methodologies, seeks to bridge the gap between science and spirituality, and offers recommended online courses through its Education Center. Other non-academic courses are taught via distance learning by parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach through HCH Institute.
Throughout one’s academic studies – even if one does not get the opportunity to do parapsychological research as part of a Masters’ or Doctorate program – students should make their interest known to those in the field, through the various organizations like the Parapsychological Association and Rhine Research Center, as well as smaller institutes such as the Windbridge Institute and related groups like the Forever Family Foundation, and in the U.K. with the Society for Psychical Research.
Following academic studies, it’s most important to become active in some way with the organizations and foundations, and to attend professional conferences such as those offered by some of the organizations mentioned above, in order to find opportunities for moving directly into the field.
Clearly, and unfortunately, there is no quick route to becoming a professional parapsychologist, but those who are sufficiently determined to do so stand to enjoy an extremely interesting and diverse career path.
Linda Forshaw is a Business Information Systems graduate from Lancaster University in the UK. A leading contributor to Degree Jungle, Linda is also a full time writer and blogger specializing in education, social media, and entrepreneurship. Contact her on Twitter @seelindaplay
Loyd Auerbach will be offering mentoring for individuals and groups/teams of investigators and ghost hunters beginning September 2012.
Rather than formal set courses, this mentoring will take the form of a program (or one time sessions) allowing people who investigate paranormal activity and haunted locations or go on ghost hunts to discuss and gain guidance where needed on their specific cases, as well as their methodologies, equipment and evidence with an active parapsychologist who specializing in field investigations.
A big part of the mentoring will be to support groups/teams/individuals in their efforts to actually help their clients deal with the phenomena and their experiences, something often lacking in the experience and any of the informal training for ghost hunters/paranormal investigators.
More than that, by doing this on an “as needed” basis, rather than a scheduled course, groups/teams/individuals can come to their mentor when they need clarification, more information, help/support in specific cases, and assessment of their gathered evidence and data (and what to do with it).
Auerbach will also provide support for individuals who may be psychically “sensitive” (but with little experience as a working psychic or medium), and for groups/teams working with those who are sensitive to the paranormal.
Finally, as Loyd Auerbach is connected to various field researchers, experimental parapsychologists, and additional scientists in other fields as well as research organizations, he can also provide referrals to others for “second opinions” or for further information in specialized areas. Auerbach himself has over 30 years field experience and who has been teaching Parapsychology for nearly as long (in both graduate school and for non-academic audiences). In addition, he has the additional insight of someone with background and knowledge in the laboratory studies of ESP, PK and Mediumship, as well as studies of Near Death Experiences, Out of Body Experiences, and paranormal beliefs. He has guided and mentored his own students in their investigative and research work long after they finished their courses with him.
Mentoring will be in the form of phone or Skype calls, email, or in-person consults (the latter for those in the San Francisco Bay Area).
If you are a ghost hunter or paranormal investigator who wishes to bring your work to the next level, or just someone starting out who wants some guidance, contact Loyd Auerbach for more information on his upcoming Paranormal Mentoring Program.
Please note that not everyone will be accepted for mentoring. Candidates will need to have a phone/Skype interview with Prof. Auerbach to determine whether the individual or group fits.
Loyd Auerbach can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, through his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/loyd.auerbach or by calling the Office of Paranormal Investigations and leaving a message, (415) 249-9275.
Just an alert that there’s a new page posted under Info > Loyd Auerbach where you can make a donation to help support my field investigation/research and my extensive (and time-consuming) public outreach about Parapsychology and the Paranormal.
Or click here: Donate
FREE Telephone Seminar with author/publisher Richard L. Wren hosted by author/professor Loyd Auerbach
Tuesday July 31, 2012 — 6:30 PM Pacific / 9:30 PM Eastern
Join new mystery writer Richard L. Wren (www.rlwren.com) for a special 60-90 minute teleseminar on his guide to writing a novel and getting it published. If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel – or a nonfiction book for that matter – and want some down to earth practical and easy to do tips on how to get it done and get it published, please join us. This free teleseminar covers material from Wren’s booklet KISS: The Keep It Simple and Successful Way to Easily, Inexpensively and Finally – Write Your Novel, which offers nuts and bolts tips for writing and publishing fiction that seem to have slipped through the cracks of most other books on writing a novel. Not a come-on for other books, this is a short, inexpensive treatise that includes detail after detail which will enable you to start your book, write your book, punctuate your book, edit your book, and publish your book, using specific and included sources in a way no other guide book does.
In the teleseminar, he’ll hit some highlights of the booklet and answer questions about writing, editing, proofing, and publishing (with a focus on self publishing through near-free resources/services on the web). Non-fiction author, JFK University professor and HCH Institute’s Parapsychological Studies Instructor Loyd Auerbach – who also teaches and coaches on the topics of publicity & promotion for authors, getting published, and public speaking (among other topics) –will be on hand to moderate, ask questions, and answer some himself.
To register, please send an email to Loyd Auerbach at email@example.com, and he’ll send back the call-in number and access code. We will be recording the teleseminar, and will make it available for folks who can’t make it for a very nominal fee on Richard’s website.
Again, this one’s free – but we really hope you’ll order a copy of Richard L. Wren’s K.I.S.S. booklet by visiting the webpage at http://www.rlwren.com/k-i-s-s-
His novels – CASEY’S SLIP and JOSHUA’S REVENGE — can be found at Amazon.com. For more on Richard L. Wren, visit www.rlwren.com Like him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/
And a special note for those in the Bay Area: HCH Institute in Lafayette, CA, will be offering courses for novice writers/authors starting in September. Watch the announcements from HCH on their website, www.hypnotherapytraining.com, for information on the first of these practical, real-world based workshops for anyone wanting to get their fiction or non-fiction out there. We’ll also be offering workshops for those who want to get publicity and better marketing for their works. Sign up for their email announcements on their website.
This November, join Loyd Auerbach and several other experts on psychic phenomena and the evidence for life after death in Phoenix, Arizona, for the Forever Family Foundation’s annual conference.
IS THE SPIRIT WORLD REAL?
A Scientific Investigative Presentation (with audience interraction)
Sixth Annual Conference, November 10-11, 2012
Hilton Phoenix Airport Hotel, 2435 South 47th Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85034
Did you know that there is an abundance of evidence from well-credentialed scientists suggesting a Spirit World?
Don’t miss this year’s presentation, demonstrations, and opportunities to learn about this data first hand in our Unique Annual Conference Designed for the General Public
Is The Spirit World Real?, a scientific presentation that is geared for general audiences, addresses the five basic questions that everyone asks about an Afterlife.
FIVE QUESTIONS…FIVE ESTEEMED EXPERTS…TWO FULL DAYS
In a new and unusual format, attendees will witness our esteemed panel of five consciousness researchers engage in a lively discussion during each of the five topic segments. The expert in that field will present the current research and evidence on that topic, after which the audience is invited into the discussion as we come together to explore the unseen world.
Poolside lunch is included and at the close of each day, attendees will experience spirit communication conducted by two Certified Mediums.
Scientists and researchers will be joined by certified mediums who will give demonstrations of Spirit Communication and share their insights gleaned from another dimension. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage the presenters as we all join together in the search for the truth.
ADD THIS SPECIAL FRIDAY NIGHT EVENT TO YOUR WEEKEND:
“Long Island Medium” Theresa Caputo
Meet & Greet with conference presenters (even if you are not attending the weekend conference) and enjoy an elegant dinner featuring TLC’s “Long Island Medium” Theresa Caputo as the keynote speaker demonstrating Spirit Communication. (6:30 PM – 10:00 PM – Friday, November 9, 2012)
For more information, pricing and schedule, visit http://www.foreverfamilyfoundation.org/PAC2012.htm
Appearing at the conference are:
and Mediums Dave Campbell and Debra Martin
Join the Forever Family Foundation and become a member for free and get a great discount on this and other events, as well as other free member benefits. Visit http://www.foreverfamilyfoundation.org/index2.html and click Membership (on the left navigation bar) to join.