Gary E. R. Schwartz, Ph.D., Linda G. S. Russek,
Ph.D., Donald E. Watson, M.D.
Laurie Campbell, Susy Smith
Elizabeth H. Smith (hyp), William James, M.D.(hyp),
Henry I. Russek, M.D.(hyp), & Howard Schwartz, M.S.(hyp)
The Noetic Journal 2(3) July, 1999
It has been claimed that individuals can sometimes
receive and share information with persons who have died. The present exploratory
study illustrates a novel experimental paradigm for examining the survival
of consciousness (SOC) hypothesis in the context of the psi hypothesis
(e.g. telepathy or clairvoyance). Four experimental drawings were created
by SS (medium one) purportedly in consultation with four deceased collaborators
(termed departed hypothesized co-investigators, who according to medium
one's perception supposedly agreed to participate in this research). One
control drawing was created by SS. One week later, LC (medium two - who
at the time of testing did not know SS) attempted to communicate with each
of the four departed hypothesized co-investigators over two two-hour video
taped sessions in the presence of the experimenters (GERS, LGSR, and DEW)
who were blind to the drawings. Theoretically, the four experimental drawings
could be detected potentially by psi, SOC, or a combination of the two.
Theoretically, the control drawing could be detected potentially by psi.
Using the information obtained by LC pertaining mostly to color and somewhat
to shape, all five drawing were identified correctly, independently by
GERS (p<.0003), LGSR (p<.0003), DEW (p<.0003), and LC (p<.0003),
suggesting that at least psi was involved. Analysis of the raw data revealed
that when medium two attempted to receive the control picture, no dialogue
was received, and the image of a drawing was received fairly effortlessly.
However, when medium two attempted to perceive the experimental pictures,
she was flooded with "unwanted" information (impressions and dialogue consistent
with the departed hypothesized co-investigators) which made focusing on
the drawings very difficult. This observation suggests the possibility
that SOC may have been involved in addition to psi. Future directions for
research are considered in the context of dynamic dialogue analysis.
In this regard I would caution the reader to adhere to a maxim once issued by Warren McCulloch: "Do not bite my finger; look where I am pointing." - (Pribram, in Laszlo, 1995)
Throughout recorded history, claims have been made that sensitive individuals (for example, mediums and persons who have experienced the death of a loved one) can sometimes receive and share meaningful information with persons who were deceased (e.g. Smith, 1964; Berger, 1987; Martin and Romanowski, 1997). In those instances where three possible non-controversial hypotheses of (1) deliberate fraud, (2) faulty perception (including misperception and self-deception), and (3) statistical coincidence, can be ruled out, three possible controversial hypotheses remain: (4) the psi hypothesis (in its extreme form, sometimes termed super-psi; Braude, 1992; Almeder, 1996), including telepathy, remote viewing, and clairvoyance (Gauld, 1982), (5) the systemic memory hypothesis (Schwartz and Russek, 1997a, 1998) (6) and the "survival of consciousness" (SOC) hypothesis (e.g. Schwartz and Russek, 1997b).
The history of scientific research on mediumship has attempted to determine if SOC can be distinguished from psi (including telepathy (T) with the living and clairvoyance (C) for information and energy that exists in the physical universe). In carefully documented observations with great mediums such as Mrs. Leonard and Mrs. Piper (Smith, 1964), evidence was obtained suggesting that the information received by the mediums involved more than just T with the living. Usually this involved "evidential" information unknown to the living that was received only when the medium was in purported contact with the deceased. However, these "evidential" observations do not rule out possible T for information and associated energy still present in the physical world. Note that to be complete, clairvoyance would include other possible "clair-" registrations such as clairaudience and clairsensience; when we mention C, the C (for "clair" can refer to any of the possible senses).
A recent example of anecdotal data that ruled out T (but not C) was obtained by one of the authors of this paper (LC) who is a skilled medium interested in scientific research on telepathy and consciousness. LC received information purportedly from a deceased husband who claimed that before he died he had secretly purchased a special Japanese scarf for his wife that he had placed in a specific box in a drawer. The purchase of the scarf (and therefore its location) was unknown to any of his living family members. The box containing the scarf was subsequently found in a drawer in the house as had been purportedly communicated by the deceased husband to LC.
Such anecdotal data, though highly suggestive, are not sufficient to prove the existence of SOC. The C hypothesis (see Gauld, 1982; Braude 1992) is extremely difficult to eliminate entirely. The recent theory of systemic memory (Schwartz and Russek, 1997a, 1998) compounds the conceptual challenge even further.
The mathematics of recurrent feedback loops lead to the prediction that all material systems "store" (retain in some form) dynamic information and energy in the "vacuum" space that fills all material systems (see Schwartz and Russek, 1998). Quantum physics would predict that virtual dynamical energy systems (DESs) would continue to exist after the material systems have deconstructed (just as the patterns of light energy that comprise the histories of stars continue to exist in the vacuum of space long after the stars may have deconstructed (i.e. died) - this "memory" can be witnessed with the naked eye in a clear night sky).
The conceptual issue no longer becomes simply whether the information and energy exists in the vacuum (within or without the material systems), but whether the information and energy is static (i.e. "dead" - the simple psi hypothesis) or whether the information and energy is dynamic, a DES (i.e. is "alive" - the systemic memory hypothesis).
Historically, some parapsychologists (Braude, 1983; Gauld, 1982) have argued on philosophical grounds that psi-retrieval of meaningful information (e.g. semantic meaning) from physical objects (or even the "vacuum," see below) is problematical. Moreover, the concept of memory "traces" for meaning being "stored" has been challenged by some scholars on philosophical grounds (e.g. Bursen, 1978; Heil, 1981).
These early authors were not aware of the logic of systemic memory "storage" that stems inexorably from the analysis of how dynamic recurrent loops (which is one of the major mechanisms hypothesized to explain how neurons and neural networks create memories) operate in all dynamical network systems (Schwartz and Russek, 1997a,1998). The logic of systemic memory raises challenging questions about possible alternative interpretations of evidence for reincarnation as well as survival of consciousness inferred from near-death experiences (Cook, Greyson, and Stevenson, 1998), regardless of how one philosophically conceives of memory being retained in systems.
The experimental paradigm of "cross correspondence," where purported communication from the departed is spread among different mediums so that the meaning of the message can only be gleaned when the mediums pool the material they receive (see Gauld, 1982), implies active decision making on the part of the departed. Though this paradigm is potentially compelling, the empirical difficulty is that there is no independent record of the messages or information - the pattern must be inferred only by the living.
Research using secret encoded information presumably known only by the person performing the encoding (while alive) and subsequently communicated after the person dies (reviewed in Schwartz and Russek, 1997b) provides a potentially stronger test of the SOC hypothesis. Some of the encoding procedures leave no written (i.e. original physical) trace of the "key" that unlocks the to-be-deciphered code (which obviously remains in the physical). However, if the systemic memory hypothesis is true, the original physical presence of the "key" would still exist in the vacuum of space as a systemic memory (a DES), and by C, might be received by a super-sensitive individual.
The secret encoded phrase procedure virtually eliminates the plausibility of T with the living. However, it is possible that the encoded information could be stored in the physical remains and surroundings of the person when alive (as well as in the "vacuum" of space itself) through the systemic memory mechanism (Schwartz and Russek, 1997a, 1998). Hence, C retrieval of information stored in material objects or physical space can not be ruled out, even using the experimental paradigm of secret encoded messages.
However, what is typically not emphasized is that the secret encoded message paradigm presumably involves some sort of dynamic interaction and collaboration between the living and the departed. The seemingly active communication process of such dynamic retrieval is conceptually and methodologically important, especially from systems perspective (Schwartz and Russek 1998).
A more controversial approach to collaboration between the living and the departed is for one medium to request that a departed individual provide information to a second medium unknown by the first medium (termed here departed hypothesized co-investigators). Though this paradigm does not rule out psi (either T or C), it makes it possible to compare the nature of the communication process when information is being retrieved by T and C (with a living person who is not attempting to communicate with the medium) versus the addition of SOC to T and C (with a departed hypothesized co-investigator who is purportedly attempting to engage in active communication with the medium). Since the retrieval of SOC information and energy from deceased persons will always be confounded by possible T and C in naturalistic settings (e.g. as purportedly experienced by mediums or people who have lost loved ones), the challenge naturalistically is not to eliminate the T and C but to discover if there is more to the retrieval process (e.g. SOC) when communication with deceased persons is attempted, than just T and C with living humans and physical objects. This paradigm can be thought of as "from here to there and back again," whereas cross correspondence is simply "from there to here."
A. Berger (the current President of the Survival Research Foundation) and his wife,
J. Berger, conducted a pilot experiment in 1983 involving a mother whose son Petty had died and purportedly communicated with her (described in Berger, 1987). Though a medium, Petty was asked to show his survival of death by agreeing to the Berger and Berger experiment. He was requested to select three numbers not known to anyone, one number to be the sum of the other two, and to communicate each of the numbers to one of three other mediums with whom his mother (or his girl friend) might be sitting in the future. Neither the mother nor the girl friend were aware of the experiment, nor were the other mediums.
In a series of mediumistic sessions, two numbers ("1" and "2" ) were received in one session, and three numbers ("1", "2" and "3") were received in another session. The mediums claimed that the numbers were obtained as they engaged in dialogue with Petty.
The number "3" is the sum of "1" and "2." Berger and Berger (personal communication) conclude from this pilot study that "when a subject is used who fits the profile of an `ideal communicator,' strong survival evidence can possibly be obtained." This paradigm is especially clever because it virtually eliminates (but does not totally rule out) T and C as primary mechanisms (e.g. according to Berger, the numbers 1-2-3 were not explicitly in his mind).
However, verbal and numeric information is sometimes complex and fairly abstract. For example, the secret "key" phrases selected by individual persons when alive - such as sayings or nursery rhymes - using the hidden code paradigm may be difficult to receive, especially since they involve many words. One misheard word by a medium after the person died would be scored as a failure by decoding mathematics designed to eliminate T (Schwartz and Russek, 1997b).
We hypothesized that colored pictorial information, especially if chosen in collaboration with departed hypothesized co-investigators, might be more readily communicated to selected mediums who claim to receive visual images via a combination of psi (e.g. T and / or C involving remote viewing) with the living as well as possible active communication (dialogue) with the departed hypothesized co-investigators (as predicted by SOC).
The present experiment became plausible when the senior authors (GERS, LGSR, and DEW) learned the following:
(2) Besides being a well-known author, SS is an excellent artist whose apartment in Arizona contains many of her colored paintings. SS hypothesized she could draw colored pictures suggested or chosen by the departed hypothesized co-investigators.
(3) LC (a mother of two children), hypothesized that she could contact each of the departed hypothesized co-investigators and potentially receive information about the pictures as well as receive communication (dialogue and impressions) consistent with their personalities and histories, and
(4) LC did not know SS personally and had not heard of SS before GERS, LGSR and DEW began discussing the possibility of doing collaborative research with LC. LC lives in California, SS lives in Arizona.
The basic experimental paradigm is outlined as follows:
(1) Medium one attempts to invite a number (n) of deceased individuals to collaborate in the proposed research (to serve as departed hypothesized co-investigators).Positive identification of the colored drawings selected by the departed hypothesized co-investigators through information obtained by medium two would be consistent with psi and SOC. Positive identification of the control colored drawing obtained by medium two would be consistent with psi. Additional positive identification of the departed hypothesized co-investigators would also be consistent with psi and SOC. However, information indicating a dynamic relationship between medium two and the departed hypothesized co-investigators (dialogue communication), including information not requested but nonetheless offered that was evidentiary in nature, would be suggestive of SOC.
(2) Medium one draws a unique colored picture purportedly in consultation with each departed hypothesized co-investigator (experimental drawings, potentially received by psi and / or SOC).
(3) Medium one also draws a control colored picture to evaluate psi (T and / or C) with the living.
(4) The departed hypothesized co-investigators purportedly agree to communicate information about their individual colored drawings to medium two at a later time.
(5) Medium two, who does not know medium one and does not know the departed hypothesized co-investigators, attempts to receive information from each of them about their respective colored drawings at a designated time.
(6) Medium two also attempts to receive information about medium one's control colored drawing through psi (T and / or C).
(7) The information obtained by medium two is subsequently compared with the actual colored drawings.
(8) The information obtained by medium two is also compared with the known personalities of the departed potential co-investigators, and the nature of the dialogue in the experimental and control conditions is examined.
(9) The experimenters and medium two are blind to the departed hypothesized co-investigators and the colored drawings (in the present experiment, the experimenters were not blind to the names or personalities of the departed hypothesized co-investigators, but they were blind to the complete set of colored drawings). In the ideal case, medium one would be blind to the departed hypothesized co-investigators personalities as well (she or he would only know their names). Hence, in the present research, psi about the personalities of some of the departed hypothesized co-investigators could have come from the senior investigators, whereas information about the drawings could have come only through psi with medium one and/or SOC with the departed hypothesized co-investigators.
Though the investigators were cognizant before the data were collected of the possibility that differences in dynamic dialogue between attempts to receive information about the experimental and control drawings might be observed, we were not cognizant before the data were collected of the possibility that unwanted dialogue and emotional impressions received by medium two during purported communication with the departed hypothesized co-investigators would interfere with medium two's ability to receive information about the drawings (possibly by psi). This unanticipated possibility would also be consistent with SOC.
The following experiment provides data relevant to
all of these possible considerations and interpretations. It should be
appreciated that the nature of experimental design requires that one be
open to the possibility that some of the data reported below could be conceivably
communicated by departed hypothesized co-investigators to both medium one
and medium two, and that the inference regarding the potential collaboration
of the departed hypothesized co-investigators is experimentally (and theoretically)
plausible (though obviously only inferred indirectly).
Design and Procedure
SS (medium one) created four colored drawings (the experimental pictures) supposedly with the advice of EHS, WJ, HIR, and HS (departed hypothesized co-investigators presumably in communication with medium one), and one control colored drawing (which SS designed herself).
According to medium one's perception, three of the departed hypothesized co-investigators (EHS, WJ, and HIR), suggested the categories for their drawings, and one of the departed hypothesized co-investigators (HS), accepted a drawing created by medium one. However, the experimenters were blind to all information regarding the drawings until data collection involving medium two was completed.
One week after the drawings were made, LC (medium two) and DEW came to Tucson. Two two-hour sessions with LC were video-taped in the presence of GERS, LGSR, and DEW. In both sessions, medium two (who did not know medium one and had not read her books), attempted to communicate with the departed hypothesized co-investigators and also to receive information about the control picture. The order of contact for both sessions was EHS, WJ, HIR, HS and control. This order was chosen in terms of history of contact with medium one (EHS and WJ for approximately 40 years, HIR for approximately 2 years, and HS for approximately 1 year).
It was recognized that a fixed order would constrain the interpretations. For example, if dialogue decreased over the course of the time, decreases in dialogue observed for the control could simply be due to the passage of time or fatigue. However, no apparent decreases were observed in the extensive dynamic dialogue reported during the experimental periods, and zero evidence of dynamic dialogue was observed during the control periods in either session. During both sessions, medium two took extensive notes and made drawings in a spiral notebook.
After both sessions were completed and information related to color and form were reviewed and summarized by GERS, LGSR, and DEW (but not medium two), medium one and medium two were introduced, and their meeting was video taped in the presence of GERS, LGSR, and DEW.
We recognized that the "Clever Hans" phenomenon might operate in this last phase of the experiment; i.e. medium two might receive subtle non-verbal cues from medium one. Hence, the design would have been experimentally cleaner if the drawings had been examined in the absence of medium one. However, since the primary data of interest were obtained in the two two sessions that were completed before medium two met medium one, the key findings could not be explained by subtle cues potentially present in the last phase of the experiment.
Medium one displayed the five colored drawings, and medium two attempted again to contact the departed hypothesized co-investigators to obtain possible direct selection. The experimenters noted the very first impressions of medium two as she first viewed each colored drawings, as well as her efforts to then contact the departed hypothesized co-investigators in the presence of medium two and the colored drawings.
In addition, the three experimenters attempted to guess which drawings were associated with which individuals using two guessing procedures: (1) using personal impressions, and (2) using the specific color and form information obtained by medium two in the prior two two-hour sessions (the primary data of interest).
After this process was completed, medium two first
guessed which drawings were associated with which departed hypothesized
co-investigators - the remaining drawing was the control - and then she
used the color and form information (which the experimenters had to repeat
for her - see below).
Four drawings were created using felt tipped color crayons on a spiral drawing pad. One drawing was created using a black drawing pencil.
First, the process of receiving information from the departed hypothesized co-investigators is described below. Then, the color and form information are presented (Table 1), followed by gray-scaled scanned images of the four colored drawings and the one black pencil drawing (Figures 1 - 5).
On both occasions when contact was attempted with the departed hypothesized co-investigators by medium two, extensive information (content and emotion) unrelated to the colored drawings was received by medium two. Despite repeated requests to medium two to attempt to focus the information she received on the drawings, medium two was unsuccessful in preventing unwanted information (content and emotion of apparent significance to the departed hypothesized co-investigators) from filling her consciousness. Images of the departed hypothesized co-investigators were received and personality differences among the departed hypothesized co-investigators were expressed. The brief descriptions summarized below reflect the subjective perceptions conveyed by medium two.
The late EHS purportedly conveyed love and devotion for her daughter (SS), and expressed information related to where she lived when SS was a little girl. Medium two noted that EHS moved relatively few times in her lifetime (on the East coast), whereas SS seemed to have lived in many places (East and West) in the United States (this information was subsequently verified as historically correct). A description of EHS's house was quite accurately portrayed, though the words did not always match. For example, medium two inferred that the house was a small "farm" - medium one subsequently explained that this was not literally correct. However, medium two saw a "cow" in the backyard and a large flower garden with vegetables - this information was verified post data collection by medium one (hence, medium two's "farm-like" inference).
The late WJ purportedly conveyed a style of dress of the period of his life, and showed many books in a library, as well as buildings suggestive of a campus. He purportedly conveyed deep caring for medium one. He also purportedly showed what appeared to be a portrait (see below) which was very confusing to medium two.
The late HIR purportedly conveyed many impressions, including love for his daughter (LGSR) and concern for his wife, Mrs. Elayne Russek. He purportedly showed images of a white condominium and boats in the water (a description of LGSR's home in Boca Raton, Florida). He purportedly repeatedly showed an image of hands holding what sometimes appeared to be a heart and sometimes appeared to be a single flower with a long stem (which medium two thought might be a rose).
The late HS was purportedly accompanied by his late wife, Shirley Sara Schwartz. They purportedly conveyed love for their son (GERS), but spent significant time referring to their younger son (Mr. Martin J. Schwartz) living on the East Coast about whom they were very concerned. They purportedly conveyed that MJS was going through a significant change in his life and needed GERS's assistance (GERS later confirmed that his younger brother on the East Coast was in the process of attempting to sell his business and make a major life change). HS purportedly conveyed images of water, old sailing ships in Boston, and the sea coast in Maine (inferred from a map with a X purportedly shown by HS to medium two.)
In response to numerous requests by GERS to medium two during the two two-hour sessions that the deceased collaborators express exactly what was in the pictures, only colors and questionable shapes were registered by medium two (described below). Medium two was seemingly flooded with descriptive and dynamically interactive information of a personal and emotional nature when she attempted to contact the departed hypothesized co-investigators about their drawings. Of course, the psi hypothesis could suggest that this information was received from medium one (who was not present) in the case of EHS and WJ, from LGRS in the case of HIR, and from GERS in the case of HS (and SSS). However, the psi hypothesis would also have to suggest that the dialogue and interactions were created by medium two in combination with telepathy (implying either that the telepathic information was active and / or medium two was interpreting the information as if it were active). Moreover, the psi hypothesis would have to suggest that these dialogues would continue despite repeated requests by the senior authors to medium two to try to suppress this information so as to obtain the primary data that was the basis of the experimental design, i.e. the detailed information about the pictures. Though not implausible, this seems somewhat improbable.
When medium two attempted to receive information
about the control colored drawing, no evidence of communication with a
departed person was observed (no dynamically interactive information was
obtained - the information was not perceived as interacting with medium
two in an active, communicative manner). Instead, medium two purportedly
experienced an image of medium one's apartment (the placement of medium
one's couch, chair, opposite wall with pictures that were viewed, and medium
one sitting to the side - all of which was accurate) as if she was simply
viewing a room or a photograph. Only in the case of the "control" colored
drawing did medium two report receiving a relatively clear "picture" of
a possible colored drawing. Medium two had not previously attempted to
use psi to receive information about a distant picture (contained in a
pad of pictures), and was very surprised to discover that she received
impressions so readily (that post data collection were discovered to be
Color and Form
The following summary descriptions were taken from the written notes generated by medium two during the two two-hour sessions and simultaneously communicated by her verbally and recorded on tape. They are summarized in Table 1.
|Trees? House? Flower?|
|Portrait of himself with beard?|
||Red (and pink?)
|Heart in hands? Rose long stem?|
(inferred from sea and snow)
|Circles? Snow? Water? Sailing?|
||Purple, Greens, Yellows
("rainbow" of colors)
|Shapes, Flowers (many colors)|
Using the relative confidence of medium two as a guide, the only image that was even remotely clear (for form) was the control image. Medium two was thoroughly confused about which images were being portrayed by the departed hypothesized co-investigators whenever she attempted to ask them for specific information about their drawings. For example, for WJ, she reported experiencing seeing a penciled portrait of what she thought might be an image of WJ with a beard, yet this did not seem "right"; for HIR, she reported experiencing seeing an image of a heart in his hands or possibly a rose or roses in his hands, yet this did not seem "right."
However, for colors, medium two's impressions were quite definitive:
When medium two sought colors for WJ, the only colors that appeared were black and white (of a portrait).
When medium two sought colors for HIR, the only colors that appeared were reds (and sometimes pink, but this was unclear).
When medium two sought colors for HS, the only colors that appeared were blues and whites, suggested by the sea and snow.
When medium two sought colors for SS, the colors that appeared were purple, yellows and greens, and a "rainbow of colors" of shapes and flowers.
However, when the color and form information Table 1 were then used, each of the three experimenters got five out of five correct (individual p values per experimenter, p<.0003).
Interestingly, when the very first impressions of medium two were used, her accuracy turned out to be five out of five correct (p <.0003 - note that she learned that her first impressions were correct only after all the post session data were collected and the codes were broken). However, when she attempted to "second" guess her first impressions by carefully analyzing the drawings in the presence of medium one (while she tried, but reported difficulty, in making contact with the departed hypothesized investigators in this analytic context), she only guessed one out of five correct (statistical chance). Then, when she was given the information displayed in Table 1 (note that she did not spontaneously recall most of this information - this lack of recall for detail following mediumship receiving periods is not uncommon among mediums), her accuracy was five out of five correct (p<.0003).
Figures 1-5 displays gray scaled scanned images of the colored drawings (only Figure 2 approximates the actual colors of the original drawings - since it was the only black and white stencil).
According to medium one, EHS chose to draw a sunflower, which according to medium one was EHS's late husband's favorite flower (Figure 1). The colors shown in the final drawing were yellow, green and orange. However, medium one subsequently informed GERS that this colored drawing was not the "original" colored drawing. The original drawing was a colored drawing of a sun flower that contained only yellow and green, but the yellow was muted against the white background (this drawing was subsequently filed with the data). Medium one purportedly decided to redraw the drawing to make it more vibrant, and added orange to the picture. This was the only drawing of the five that emphasized the colors yellow and green.
As displayed in Figure 2, the drawing associated with WJ turned out to be a black and white penciled portrait. However, the portrait was not of WJ with a beard, but of "Sammy," medium one's new miniature dachshund (mixed breed) puppy. Medium one informed us that WJ requested that she draw a picture of dachshund which she presumed to be her late dog "Junior," who apparently sat on her lap while she and WJ purportedly collaborated on The Book of James (1974), and currently purportedly spends time with WJ as well as medium one (according to information supposedly communicated to medium one from WJ).. Since medium one typically draws and paints from photographs, and since she did not have an old picture of Junior handy, she selected a current picture of Sammy, her new miniature dachshund (mixed breed) puppy, to portray in black and white.
There was one colored drawing that was mostly and strikingly red. It was a drawing of a red poinsettia flower with a longish stem (Figure 3). Medium one said that HIR wanted her to draw a red flower, and she thought that it was a rose. However, medium one said that it was very difficult for her to draw roses accurately, so purportedly with his agreement, she chose to draw a poinsettia, a flower she could readily portray.
There was only one colored drawing that was blue and white. This was a drawing of a large butterfly (Figure 4) purportedly selected (but not suggested) by HS. Medium two reported receiving no images from HS of a butterfly. However, the lines drawn in the butterfly wings were suggestive of waves in an ocean, and butterflies can be seen to "sail" through the wind (as do old sailing ships). Clearly, medium two was unsuccessful in matching form from HS (and she was not very accurate in registering form from the other departed hypothesized co-investigators as well). But she was accurate in sensing the colors of all of the drawings.
The colored drawing she most accurately received
was the control colored drawing selected by medium one. It was a drawing
of a complex vase of flowers containing many shapes and sizes (Figure 5).
The vase turned out to be purple, and the flowers contained a veritable
"rainbow of colors."
The present findings are clearly consistent with some sort of psi hypothesis (telepathy and / clairvoyance). This is especially the case for the control colored drawing, about which medium two was particularly and surprisingly (to us) accurate.
Analysis of medium two's self-reports indicated that she may have engaged in some sort of "remote-viewing" (via telepathy and / or clairvoyance), since she spontaneously experienced an image of medium one's apartment and then received an image of the purple vase with the rainbow of flowers. This observation is likely confounded by the fact that medium one has many paintings of vases with flowers in her apartment. Could this be what medium two experienced? Clearly, in future research, medium one should draw something other than her favorite image, and medium two should then attempt to receive the less favored drawing. Unfortunately, medium two now knows medium one. New medium two's will need to be employed in future research with medium one.
However, it is important to appreciate that the strong image of purple reported by medium two (the color medium one chose for this particular vase) suggests that some sort of super-psi involving the actual colored drawing itself may have been involved. Also, it is important to appreciate that the control drawing seems personally relevant to medium one as were the experimental drawings seemingly personally relevant to the purported hypothesized co-investigators. This becomes important when the question of dynamic communication is considered below.
The drawings selected by the departed participants were not intuitively obvious to the three experimenters, nor were they obvious to medium two. For example, based upon what the experimenters knew of WJ's professional history, we would never have guessed that WJ would have requested that medium one should draw a portrait of a miniature dachshund (this was one of the pictures we each independently got wrong when we used our personal impressions / intuitions). However, after hearing what medium one explained, the request became plausible.
Did the face of WJ make its way into the portrait through the efforts of WJ, or was this medium two's interpretation of the cute puppy's face in the actual drawing (the black nose and side of the puppy's face could have been seen as a beard)? Was this simply an interaction of telepathy and clairvoyance, or does this observation imply some sort of interactive relationship between medium two and the surviving consciousness of WJ? This is an important question for future research.
Clearly, medium two was unable to pick up the image of a butterfly from HS, and from what GERS knew of his late father, he never would have expected that HS would have requested medium one to draw a butterfly. However, the butterfly was the only colored drawing that was not specifically requested by a departed hypothesized co-investigator. Medium one drew it first, then HS purportedly accepted it. It may be significant that HS had a long-standing love of the water and boating, and he knew GERS loved the water and boating as well. The blue waves within the butterfly wings could have been how HS attempted to convey this particular drawing. On the other hand, it could be that medium two failed to receive the image of the butterfly because GERS did not have a conscious expectation that his father might select a butterfly (a psi interpretation)
As noted in the introduction, recent hypotheses such as morphic fields (Sheldrake, 1981), holographic information storage in the "vacuum" (Bohm 1980, Lazslo, 1995), and the logic of systemic memory (Schwartz and Russek, 1997a, 1998), all imply that findings such as the above could be conceivably interpreted as the retrieval of information and energy "stored" in all physical systems and the "vacuum" between every subatomic particle (which expands the possibility of psi as well as survival of consciousness and complicates them accordingly). However, as noted in the introduction, some scholars (e.g. Braude, 1983; Gauld, 1982; Bursen, 1978; Heil, 1981) have questioned the "storage of memory" premise on philosophical grounds (one reviewer of the present paper was of the opinion that the storage of information in physical systems or the vacuum was "deeply unintelligible" and that they had successfully "attacked the idea").
However, despite differences in possible philosophical interpretations, contemporary physics recognizes that information, in some form, remains to some degree indefinitely in the vacuum. This noncontroversial thesis is a premise of modern astrophysics (e.g. as telescopes peer into the depths of the universe and receive organized patterns of information that are purportedly millions if not billions of years old).
The deep question becomes, is such information potentially dynamic - i.e. does some of the information exist in the vacuum in the form of a dynamical energy system, and therefore function like a "living system" - a dynamical material system (see Miller, 1978; Schwartz, 1997)? Do the available data in any way speak to the question of whether the purported departed hypothesized co-investigators in this research are potentially "alive" and are actively participating of their own "free will"?
The observations that suggest that some sort of active communication may have occurred between medium two and the purported departed hypothesized co-investigators in this research include the following:
(1) the dynamic, interactive nature of the impressions obtained when medium two was attempting to receive the drawings from the departed hypothesized co-investigators, andFor example, HIR seemingly actively communicated his love for LGSR and his wife Elayne to medium two, and HS and his wife, SSS (who was not formally invited but nonetheless was purportedly experienced by medium two) seemingly actively communicated their concern for GERS's younger brother and his family to medium two. The differences in personality and purposes expressed by the four departed hypothesized co-investigators, and the "sense of press" experienced and expressed by medium two, could reflect:
(2) medium two's apparent lack of success in containing and suppressing these seemingly "alive" and personally significant sources of information when repeatedly requested to do so.
(1) a complex manifestation of a fundamental expectancy effect on the part of medium two (reflecting her strong belief in the possibility of survival of consciousness) plus an unconscious creation of dynamic dialogue, andThe personality differences between the four deceased collaborators (plus the unexpected fifth, SSS) conveyed through medium two, paralleled their personalities as known to medium one and the experimenters.
(2) strong psi capabilities of medium two, and/or
(3) active dynamic interaction with the departed hypothesized co-investigators potentially involved in the present research.
Clearly, the conceptually simplest, and most parsimonious explanation (employing Ockham's Razor), is that telepathy (Bem and Hornorton, 1994) as well as other information retrieval mechanisms (e.g. clairvoyance), reflect phenomena that some people (e.g. mediums) may develop more fully than others - and that these mechanisms may allow for seemingly anomalous communication not only with the physically alive, but between the physically alive and the continued existence of dynamical energy systems of the deceased. The latter suggests survival of consciousness. A conceptual framework that predicts the kinds of observations obtained in the present study is the new concept of enformy (the hypothesis that all systems - including pure dynamical energy systems (Schwartz and Russek, 1997, 1998) - are expressions of a dynamic organizing process in nature that preexists physical systems and continues post physical systems) as proposed by Watson, et al (1999).
It is unlikely that the present results were due either to deliberate fraud (e.g. medium one is confined to a wheel chair in Tucson and has an established scholarly interest in survival of consciousness research) or to faulty perception (e.g. the findings can not readily be explained as simply misperception or self-deception on the part of medium two). However, the present findings will need to be replicated and extended with new mediums and departed hypothesized co-investigators to eliminate statistical coincidence as a possible explanation. Clearly, more control pictures would be necessary to establish the "clarity" hypothesis suggested by the surprisingly highly accurate perception of medium two concerning the single control picture.
More complex designs can be attempted in the future. As part of the Susy Smith Project at the University of Arizona, plans are underway to examine (1) departed hypothesized co-investigators choosing to visit different mediums at different times, (2) departed hypothesized co-investigators sometimes delibrately suppressing information in the presence of different mediums, (3) creating colored drawings suggested by departed hypothesized co-investigators versus drawings assigned to departed hypothesized co-investigators, (4) departed hypothesized co-investigators sometimes bringing along a "friend" (e.g. what appears to have spontaneously happened when medium two attempted to contact HS and he purportedly participated with his deceased wife), (5) departed hypothesized co-investigators pretending to be another person who is living or has died, and (6) control drawings being created by diverse persons who are living.
Future research can be conducted where the medium actually attempts to contact people who are living in addition to people who have died (this information would be obtained by a research assistant so that the experimenters as well as the medium would be "blind" to who has died and who was still alive), as well as fictional characters (who are "living" in novels as well as those who "died" in novels). The linguistic nature of the dynamic communication can be carefully analyzed. If positive results are obtained for the deceased compared to the living under double-blind procedures (for real persons compared to ficitional characters), this kind of study could provide information suggesting that naturalistic observations reported by mediums may involve more than just super-psi with the living and the physical.
It is important to recognize that if medium two was simply following her own logic and expectancies, or the logic and expectancies of GERS, LGSR, and DEW (possibly received through super-psi with them), she would have generated data during the two two-hour sessions that would have led to chance identifications of the pictures. Recall that GERS, LGSR, DEW each obtained chance identifications when they used their own individual logic, expectancies, and associated emotions per se. Medium two's psi capabilities would have required that she filter out all these local expectancies and associated emotions, and register only the specific information known to medium one at a distance (or the physical information drawn on the pad at a distance), in order to obtain the statistically significant identifications that were actually obtained. The data suggest that she had to filter out cognitions and emotions from the departed hypothesized co-investigators (not the living co-investigators), and she was not successful at doing this.
It is also important to recognize that if medium two had primarily been using psi her performance in the actual presence of medium one might have improved (e.g. if proximity of biophysical energy potentially increases communication that extends beyond the five senses, - though research in parapsychology clearly suggests that proximity is not necessary, this does not rule out the possibility that proximity of biophysical energy may sometimes play a role, Schwartz and Russek, 1997a). Moreover, if subtle social psychological cues were being employed, medium two might been have more accurate in the presence of medium one.
However, medium two's performance was at chance when she tried to use her intuition and reason to analyze the pictures in the presence of medium one and in combination with analytic interaction with the departed hypothesized co-investigators. Hence, if subtle social psychological cues were being employed here, the data suggest that their role was to suppress psi performance. Interestingly, her very first impressions upon seeing each picture, plus her subsequent use of the previously collected color and form information, resulted in completely accurate identifications.
Finally, it is important to recognize that the presence of unwanted dynamic dialogue and communication when medium two was attempted to receive experimental picture information from the departed hypothesized collaborators, plus the lack of dynamic dialogue and communication when medium two was attempting to receive control picture from medium one, suggest that although much of this could potentially be explained post-hoc by psi with the distant medium one and, selectively, with the local experimenters, the potential plausibility of SOC being involved as well seems plausible. Though empirical research on SOC is historically minimal compared to psi, contemporary research is consistent with the possibility that SOC is plausible (Cook Greyson and Stevenson, 1998; Schwartz and Russek, in press). The complexity of everyday "mediumship" likely includes at least psi with the living and possibly psi with the departed as well.
Given the significance of the survival of consciousness for science and society, extreme caution must be used in drawing conclusions from data such as those reported here. The purpose of the present exploratory study is to illustrate the plausibility of addressing these kinds of questions in future research.
If serious scientific research on survival of consciousness
is to be conducted, it will obviously require active collaboration from
the "other side." The departed hypothesized co-investigators are included
as hypothesized co-authors to reflect, with appropriate caution and scientific
integrity, their possible co-investigator role in this kind of research.
The present study suggests that systematic research of this kind is feasible
in principle, and that with the active participation of scientifically
minded mediums and departed hypothesized co-investigators, the findings
could be scientifically informative.
We deeply thank Stephen Braude for his thoughtful
suggestions, and for encouraging us to consider complex data of this sort
in terms of multiple possible interpretations of both psi and survival.
The present findings illustrate (1) the importance of apparent dynamic
communication, (2) the need to filter obvious sources of psi information
from the living in order to receive the primary experimental pictorial
data of interest, and (3) the potential significance of unwanted and distracting
personal information reported by medium two as evidence for possible communication
from the departed hypothesized co-investigators. It is this kind of complex
dynamic data obtained using the medium to departed to medium research paradigm
that is consistent with the survival of consciousness hypothesis involving
departed hypothesized co-investigators in addition to possible psi involving
the living. Departed hypothesized co-investigators is emphasized
in this paper to make it absolutely clear that not only was the present
research exploratory (a feasibility investigation), but that findings from
future research using more sophisticated versions of the medium to departed
to medium paradigm will by nature be indirect and inferential concerning
conclusions about the survival of consciousness hypothesis.
Almeder. R. (1996). Recent responses to survival research. Journal of Scientific Exploration. 10,4:495-517.
Bem, D.G., and Honorton, C. (1994). Does psi exist? Replicable evidence for an anomalous process of information transfer. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 4-18.
Berger, A. S. (1987). Aristocracy of the Dead: New Findings in Postmorten Survival.. London and Jefferson, NC:,McFarland & Co.
Bohm, D. (1980). Wholeness and the Implicate Order. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Braude, S. E. (1992). Survival or super-psi? Journal of Scientific Exploration. 6,2:127-144.
Braude, S. E. (1983). "Radical provincialism in the life sciences: A review of Rupert Sheldrake's A New Science of Life." Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 77, 63-78.
Bursen, H. A. (1978). Dismantling the Memory Machine. Dordrecht, Boston, London: D. Reidel.
Gauld, A. (1982). Mediumship and Survival. London: Heinemann.
Heil, J. (1981). "Does Cognitive Psychology Rest on a Mistake?" Mind 90, 321-342.
Cook, E.W., Greyson, B., & Stevenson, I. (1998). Do any near-death experiences provide evidence for the survival of human personality after death? Relevant features and illustrative case reports. Journal of Scientific Exploration. 12,3: 3737-406.
Laszlo, E. (1995). The Interconnected Universe: Conceptual Foundations of Transdisciplinary Unified Theory. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing
Martin, J and Romanowski, P. (1997) Love Beyond Life. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Schwartz, G. E. (1997). Information and Energy: The soul and spirit of mind-body medicine. Advances: The Journal of Mind-Body Health. 13,1: 75-77.
Schwartz, G.E. & Russek, L.G. (1997a). Dynamical energy systems and modern physics: Fostering the science and spirit of complementary and alternative medicine. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 3,3:46-56.
Schwartz, G.E.R. & Russek, L.G.S. (1997b). Testing the survival of consciousness hypothesis: The goal of the codes. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 11,1: 79-88.
Schwartz, G.E. & Russek L.G. (1998). Do All Dynamic Systems Have Memory? Implications of the Systemic Memory Hypothesis for Science and Society. In Pribram KH (ed.). Brain and Values. Hillsdale, NJ.: Erlbaum.
Schwartz, G.E.R & Russek L.G.S. (1998 in press). Interpersonal registration of actual and intended eye gaze: Relationship to openness to spiritual belief and experience. Journal of Scientific Exploration.
Sheldrake, R. (1981). A New Science of Life. Los Angelos, CA: Tarcher.
Smith, S. (1964). The Mediumship of Mrs. Leonard. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books.
Smith, S. (1974). The Book of James. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
Watson, D.E. (1997). The theory of enformed gestalts: A model of life, mind, health. Advances: The Journal of Mind-Body Health. 13,4:32-36.
Watson, D.E., Schwartz, G.E.R. & Russek, L.G.S. (1999).
The Theory of Enformed Systems: A Paradigm of Organization
and Holistic Systems. The Noetic Journal 2(2):159-172.
Don's Home Page
How Not To Review Mediumship Research