Panel: Progressing Ganzfeld ESP Research

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Caroline Watt1, Abby Pooley1, Thomas Rabeyron1,2, Alexandre Batissou2, & Chris Roe3  
1Koestler Parapsychology Unit, University of Edinburgh 
2Laboratoire InterPsy, University of Lorraine, France 
3Centre for Psychology and Social Sciences, University of Northampton 

Introduction: There have been numerous claims of replicable evidence of psi in the ganzfeld (e.g., Bem & Honorton, 1994; Storm, Tressoldi & Di Risio, 2010; Storm & Tressoldi, 2020). However, these claims have been challenged on the grounds of the possible presence of questionable research practices (Bierman, Spottiswoode & Bijl, 2016) and sub-par methodology (Wagenmakers, Wetzels, Borsboom, & van der Maas, 2011), an issue which also greatly affects the discipline of psychology. In recent years, some parapsychologists have turned from the ganzfeld towards laboratory methods involving unconscious measures of psi that are modelled on methods that are more familiar to researchers in mainstream psychology, such as Bem’s ‘feeling the future’ studies (Bem, 2011). 

However, other researchers (e.g., Watt et al., 2020; Roe et al., 2020) have argued that it is premature to move away from the use of a method that has such a long track record in parapsychology. Furthermore, meta-analyses have identified internal patterns (such as higher scoring with studies employing selected participants) that could be used by researchers when designing their studies, to help improve the likelihood of obtaining above-chance scoring (Cardeña, 2020; Storm, Tressoldi & Di Risio, 2010; Storm & Tressoldi, 2020). This would, in turn, facilitate more process-oriented research. 

In this panel, researchers who have conducted ganzfeld studies will each give a presentation on their work to set the context for a discussion with each other and with the audience on how to progress ganzfeld ESP research. 

Professor Caroline Watt (also moderator):  Introduction, the value of ganzfeld ESP research. 

Abby Pooley: Towards a ‘golden standard’ experiment for assessing claims of telepathy in the ganzfeld (data collection delayed due to covid): including statistical improvements and other evidence-based methodological recommendations, particularly concerning the sender-receiver relationship.  

Professor Thomas Rabeyron and Alexandre Batissou: Innovation in the ganzfeld – introducing research currently underway using photic stimulation instead of homogenous red light.    

Professor Chris Roe: A brief retrospective of ganzfeld ESP studies at University of Northampton, outline of plans for future ganzfeld research at Northampton (data collection delayed due to covid), and introducing latest work in collaboration with Glenn Hitchmann and Adam Rock on individual differences in ganzfeld studies that may have a bearing on the question of participant selection. 

Bem, D. J. (2011). Feeling the future: Experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(3), 407-425. 

Bem, D. J., & Honorton, C. (1994). Does psi exist? Replicable evidence for an anomalous process of information transfer. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 4–18.  

Bierman, D. J., Spottiswoode, J. P., & Bijl, A. (2016). Testing for questionable research practices in a meta-analysis: An example from experimental parapsychology. PloS One, 11(5), e0153049. 

Cardeña, E. (2020). Editorial: Pieces of the psi puzzle and a recipe for Ganzfeld success. Journal of Parapsychology, 84(1), 5-7.  

Roe, C. A., Cooper, C. E., Hickinbotham, L., Hodrien, A., Kirkwood, L., & Martin, H. (2020). Performance and a precognitive remote viewing task, with and without Ganzfeld stimulation: Three experiments. Journal of Parapsychology, 84(1), 38-65.  

Storm, L., Tressoldi, P. E., & Di Risio, L. (2010). Meta-analysis of free-response studies, 1992–2008: Assessing the noise reduction model in parapsychology. Psychological Bulletin, 136(4), 471–485. 

Storm, L., & Tressoldi, P. (2020, May 22). Meta-Analysis of Free-Response Studies 2009-2018: Assessing the Noise-Reduction Model Ten Years On. PsyArXiv. Available at: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/3d7at 

Wagenmakers, E.-J., Wetzels, R., Borsboom, D., & van der Maas, H. L. J. (2011). Why psychologists must change the way they analyze their data: The case of psi: Comment on Bem (2011). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(3), 426-432. 

Watt, C., Dawson, E., Tullo, A., Pooley, A. & Rice, H. (2020). Testing precognition and altered state of consciousness with selected participants in the ganzfeld. Journal of Parapsychology, 84(1), 21-37. 

Presenter

Caroline Watt
Caroline Watt

Professor Caroline Watt is Koestler Chair of Parapsychology at University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Professor Chris Roe is Head of Centre for Psychology and Social Sciences, University of Northampton, England. Professor Thomas Rabeyron is Head of Laboratoire InterPsy, University of Lorraine (Nancy), France Abby Pooley is a PhD student under supervision of Prof Watt; Alexandre Batissou is a PhD student under supervision of Prof Rabeyron.

Panel: Progressing Ganzfeld ESP Research

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