Home Forums Breakthrough 2022 Forums General Discussion Rethinking Non-Human Animal Psi Research? Reply To: Rethinking Non-Human Animal Psi Research?

  • Eli Fennell

    June 27, 2022 at 11:31 am

    Another thing I’d add, which I have been evangelizing for a while, is that if the goal of much AnPsi research is based on the assumption that animals can also be a source of Psi, then the most important key that has been missing is an EVOLUTIONARILY INFORMED FRAMEWORK. Much of the Psi testing of animals involved tests that lacked evolutionary ecological validity by expecting the animal to “use Psi” (let’s think of it that way for sake of simplicity, though I suspect it is less “using Psi” like an ability and more like an adaptive RELATIONSHIP to Psi phenomenonology) under conditions that don’t even vaguely resemble the sort of survival challenges that they have evolved adaptations for. When you put animals, or humans, in conditions that are radically mismatched to the survival challenges they evolved adaptations for, it is quite common that this “mismatch” either cannot be solved at all by their evolved adaptations, or in some cases the adaptive mechanism even becomes maladaptive.

    As an example, the cockroach study is often cited as an experimenter effect due to an ad hoc and post hoc “explanation” that one of the researchers hated cockroaches and this is why they “Psi missed” when placed on an electrical surface of which different parts would randomly become electrified or not. That, to me, is a Parapsychological “just so story”, and went from a semi-serious/semi-joking suggestion to now being treated as virtual Doctrine. But as someone who uses evolutionary frameworks to understand the evolution of mind and behavior, I look at that and what I see are human researchers expecting cockroach Psi to adaptively respond to something that doesn’t resemble any survival challenge that the creature recurrently faced over its evolutionary history. When, in its natural environment, does something directly analogous to “randomly electrified plate” actaully happen to it? Perhaps on rare occassions (e.g. when a volcano is dropping hot ash onto the land around it), but not RECURRENTLY, and we don’t evolutionarily adapt to non-recurrent survival challenges. It would actually surprise me if a cockroach COULD adaptively use its Psi in such an unnatural scenario, and I would actually expect a maladaptive response, and I suspect with further research we would find that cockroach Psi operates adaptively (for the most part) in response to conditions that resemble the survival challenges it evolved to adaptively solve, and maladaptively when there is a mismatch between the task and their evolved adaptations. Such an evolutionarily informed framework, while not completely solving the “source problem”, could make alternative explanations of humans as the sole source of the effect less tenable and parsimonious by showing that Psi behaves adaptively within each species when tested under evolutionarily valid conditions… or it help could strengthen the opposite argument, that we are unique Psi agents in the same way we uniquely possess language which no other lifeform on Earth does.

    By way of analogy, someone at a recent PA meeting said something to the effect of, “Just because you think the Medium should be able to process Psi information while suspended upside-down, blindfolded, underwater, in a straight jacket, and with their arms chained behind their backs does not mean it actually makes sense as a way of testing it.” Likewise, just because you think a cockroach should be able to adaptively avoid the electrified parts of the plate, does not mean this makes evolutionary sense as a way of testing them.