The design of this experiment is unusual because of the pre-reading contemplation period (Phase 1 - the Campbell procedure), the sitter-silent period (Phase 2 - the Russek procedure), (3) the demonstrated integrity of both the research medium (e.g. Schwartz, Russek, Nelson, and Barentsen, 2001; Schwartz, Russek, and Barentsen, 2001) and the sitter (Dalzell, 2001), and (4) the special qualities of the sitter (who is a psychiatric social worker, senior administrator, and recently a research medium himself).
The pre-reading contemplation condition in this experiment is especially important because it supports LC's hypothesis that she is able to receive information before readings actually begin. Since her private clients schedule appointments months in advance, it is plausible that their hypothesized deceased loved ones will be waiting for the scheduled moment in time when they can communicate through LC to their loved ones (LC's hypothesis; superpsi hypotheses are discussed below).
Future experiments can be designed to explicitly investigate the "scheduling variable" and determine if LC is more accurate during pre-reading contemplation periods if (1) appointments are scheduled, and (2) sitters invite their deceased loved to communicate prior to the reading.
Integrity of the Sitters, Procedures, and Experimenters
Having conducted research with LC for three years under increasingly controlled laboratory conditions, it is highly improbable that LC has engaged in fraud with her private clients. Skeptics who might wish to speculate that LC was using the internet or an investigator to get information about her private clients before the readings, and then using the pre-reading information to impress her clients, have no basis or justification to offer such an unfounded criticism.
As mentioned previously, extreme care was taken to insure that only the experimenters' knew of the selection of the three sitters (their names, sexes, ages, and locations). The sitters were selected after LC arrived in Tucson. She stayed at the experimenters' home (and therefore was under close scrutiny). LC did not have a cell phone. Phone records can document that one brief telephone call was placed to GD on December 16th, 2000 (he was not home then); one call was made by GD that evening returning the experimenter's call to discuss the upcoming reading (he spoke only with GERS; LGSR was with LC in a separate room while GERS spoke with GD); and one call was made by the experimenters at 6:00 p.m. on December 17th, 2000 for the session.
In our three years of laboratory research using carefully controlled conditions where LC is blind to the sitter's identity (e.g. Schwartz, Russek, Nelson, and Barentsen, 2001; Schwartz, Russek, and Barentsen, 2001), the possibility of fraud as well as cold reading have been essentially ruled out. The present report indicates that the systematic pre-reading observations collected in LC's private practice can be replicated and extended under controlled and blinded laboratory conditions.
Paraphrasing William James and his opinions of Mrs. Piper's integrity (quoted above), we are "willing now to stake as much money on Laurie Campbell's honesty as on that of anyone we know, and we are quite satisfied to leave our reputations for wisdom or folly, so far as human nature is concerned, to stand or fall by this declaration."
However, in science, the data ultimately stand or fall on the integrity of the experimenters. We mentioned in the methods section that we did not anticipate observing such an extraordinary research reading. Had we done so, we would have included additional procedures to establish the integrity of the experimental procedures (e.g. we would have had independent observers witness all of the procedures). The experimenters are well informed about the potential of deception, and we will report evidence of it when it is observed in the laboratory (Schwartz, Russek, and Nelson, 2001).
As described in Appendix B, the HESL is concerned about integrity in science in general, and mediumship science in particular. We carefully explain four types of integrity in the statement. Everyone involved with HESL is requested to read and sign our "integrity action pledge"; mediums are required to sign our "exceptional abilities participants" form.
[Note: One reviewer of a draft of this paper, Michael Shermer, questioned the scientific value of including reference to the use of an Integrity Action Pledge in our laboratory. He recommended that this fact be excluded from this report. One anonymous reviewer proposed that the information be deleted because "its presence only raises the reader's suspicion that the authors find adhering to these minimal standards a somehow noteworthy achievement." Another reviewer considered the information "unnecessary and pointless." However, we believe that in light of the unexpected and unusual nature of these findings, that the HELS's emphasis on integrity should be included in this particular paper. If the experimenters did not have integrity, for example, we would have excluded the fact that LC stayed in the experimenter's home to avoid misinterpretation of the experimenter's motivation. Since two anonymous reviewers raised questions about the integrity of both LC and GD, the fact that HELS employs explicit information about integrity seems worth noting. Of course, signing a piece of paper will not protect against "fraudsters," as one anonymous reviewer put it; however, it does put the fraudsters openly on notice.]
Possible Rater Bias and the Conservative Calculation of Conditional Probabilities
The specific information received during both the pre-reading contemplation condition (Phase 1) and sitter-silent condition (Phase 2) cannot be explained as due to rater bias in GD's scoring of the information.
Details regarding names and relationships are discrete, precise, and can be independently verified by living family and friends. The fact that GD has conducted independent research attempting to discover if his friend's consciousness continues (reported in Dalzell, 2001), and that GD's family and friends provide independent confirmation of the facts reported by LC, serves as essential cross-validation of the information received by LC, and appears to preclude telepathy and superpsi in some cases (see below).
In Schwartz et al (2001), the average accuracy of information scored by the sitters from the transcripts was 83% for the actual readings and 77% for the silent periods. These studies were conducted proximally (i.e. locally) - the medium and sitter were in the same room.
However, the present experiment was conducted "long distance" (i.e. nonlocally) - from Tucson, Arizona to Los Angeles, California, a distance of over 1000 miles. The accuracy of the specific information obtained during the actual reading (Phase 3) was above 90%. Moreover, the combined accuracy of the names and relationships obtained during the pre-reading contemplation (Phase 1) and sitter-silent (Phase 2) conditions was also above 90%.
It is important to recognize that the calculated conditional probability of the pattern of names and relationships correctly retrieved by LC (p less than one in 2.6 trillion by chance) underestimates the actual conditional probability. Since this information was received before LC knew anything about the sitter (LC was both "blind" and "deaf" to the sitter), the information retrieval cannot be attributed to cold reading or subtle cueing.
As mentioned in the results section, none of the six primary names received by LC during the pre-reading and sitter-silent periods in the context of their specific relationship to the sitter applied to either experimenter. Curiously, the three names received by LC without relationship information that GD rated as "0" (unknown and therefore possible errors) - Joyce, Elaine, and Joseph - were names of people close to the experimenters (and would have been scored highly had we been sitters).
It should be noted that if important information obtained during the actual reading (Phase 3) is added to the conditional probability from Phases 1 and 2, the p value increases in significance. For example, it is possible to estimate the probability of having a deceased "aunt with the name Alice" who in turn has a living "grand daughter with the name Katherine."
Following the procedure described in the Results section, LC indicated in Phase 3 that A was an aunt. Including the specific relationship adds 1 in 6 (rather than 1 in 12, because sex was already included in the Phase 1 and 2 estimate). The combined probability of G, M, J, B, T, S and A, so identified, is 30
x 180 x 180 x 30 x 30 x 100 x 30 x 6, or 1 in 15,746,400,000,000.
Granddaughter named K is 12
x 15 or 1 in 180 (p<.006). The combined probability of G, M, J, B, T, S, A, and K, so identified, is 30
x 180 x 180 x 30 x 30 x 100 x 30 x 6 x 180 or 1 in 2,834,352,000,000,000.
In addition, it is important to recognize that LC did not say that G, M, J, B, or T had a granddaughter named K. LC only said that A had a granddaughter K. Hence, the specification that granddaughter K belonged to A and not G, M, J, B or T can be estimated conservatively as 1 in 6. The combined probability of G, M, J, B, T, S, A, and K belonging to A is 30
x 180 x 180 x 30 x 30 x 100 x 30 x 6 x 180 x 6 or 1 in 17,006,112,000,000,000.
In other words, with the addition of aunt A with a grand daughter K, the conditional probability increases to 1 in 17,000 trillion.
[Note - most of the names not attached to specific people, be they common (e.g. John) or less common (e.g. Marcus or Maureen) were excluded from the calculation of the conditional probabilities (the B and A names were included because they were specifically invited by GD prior to the reading). We did not include additional names despite the fact that they could be seen as directly related to the specific sitter (e.g. Marcus is the name of one of M's dearest friends). Excluding names like John, Marcus and Maureen, for example, in the calculation of the conditional probability more than balances excluding the three probable errors (Joyce, Elaine, and Joseph) in the calculations.]
As mentioned in the Results section, the estimate of 1 in 15 for common names is quite conservative. Raising the estimate to 1 in 20 increases the conditional probability 5 * 5 * 5 * 5 * 5 * 5 for the six common names calculated, to the highly improbable value of 1 in 265,720,500,000,000,000,000, or 1 in 265 million trillion. If actual data are used to calculate the probabilities, the p values are even more significant. Appendix A presents data based on a sample of subjects from the University of Arizona (n=88) as well as a sample of subjects from the US Census Bureau (total n more than 6 million).
One curiosity is noted for the sake of completeness and integrity. In the actual reading (Phase 3), LC brought up the names of three deceased well-known scientists in context of GD: Albert Einstein, David Bohm, and Carl Jung. In LC's notes taken during the actual reading, their names were mentioned in the context of words such as "group," "inspire," science exploration," "work with Einstein," and "agreement."
In the process of reading a draft of this paper, GD informed us that in addition to the four primary individuals, he also invited "spirit scientists to help facilitate the experiment." The fact that LC mentioned Einstein, Bohm, and Jung in this particular reading (and she has never mentioned three senior scientists in the context of any previous research reading conducted over the past three years) is interesting in the context of GD's declaration.
GD recognizes that whereas most of the data can be readily confirmed by independent sources (e.g. by Michael's family or Jerry's friends), other information can not (e.g. that in his role as a research medium, he invited "spirit scientists to help facilitate the experiment"). To address the concerns of the most committed skeptics, GD indicated that he would be willing to undergo a professional lie detection test to help establish his personal integrity. LC and authors would be willing to do the same if it would help address the unfounded concerns of the most cynical critics of this research.
An Integrative Triune Approach to Anomalous Information Retrieval
Since fraud, selective memory on the part of the sitter, and sitter rating bias, have been essentially ruled out in this research, it becomes meaningful to consider possible alternative / anomalous / paranormal hypotheses.
There are three primary alternative (anomalous / paranormal) hypotheses that can account for the present findings (Gauld, 1983; Schwartz et al, 1999; Schwartz, Russek, Nelson, and Barentsen, 2001). We suggest that all three may be involved in anomalous information retrieval, and that they share a common dependence on info-energy systemic resonance relationships (described in Schwartz and Russek, 1999). Other hypotheses may also be possible, including novel hypotheses that have yet to be conceived (a position recommended by Michael
The first hypothesis is telepathy with the living. The premise is that the medium is reading the conscious mind of the sitter (locally and / or nonlocally). Given the level of awareness and experience of the sitter in the present experiment, telepathy with the sitter needs to be seriously considered.
However, the inclusion of Phases 1 and 2 in this experiment, coupled with the observation that four pieces of specific information were not known to the sitter prior to the reading:
the stone church along the river (for M),
Aunt A's living grand daughter's crisis (K),
the correct spelling of K's name (GD thought it was spelled with a C), and
J's living on the east coast in Brooklyn, make the simple telepathy hypothesis insufficient to account for all the information retrieved by LC.
The second hypothesis is often termed "superpsi" (e.g. Braude 1992). One version of the super-psi hypothesis can be thought of as an extended unconscious telepathy / systemic resonance mechanism with everyone presently living (Schwartz and Russek, 1999). Simply stated, (1) LC resonates with the experimenters, (2) the experimenters resonate with the sitter (e.g. the senior author has spoken with GD numerous times and met him three times in person), (3) the sitter resonates with his living family members and friends (including family members and friends of M, A, B, and J), and (4) the information is retrieved unconsciously through systemic memory resonance (Schwartz and Russek, 1999). The network of dynamic info-energy relationships is accessed unconsciously by LC. The majority of the present findings are consistent with such a network memory resonance hypothesis.
Given that the telepathy hypothesis (1) and the network memory resonance hypothesis (2) (one example of a superpsi hypothesis, Braude 1992) are both plausible in principle, the question arises, do hypotheses 1 and 2 together account for all the data in this research reading? We suggest no.
Close examination of the languaging used by LC indicates that she is not simply reporting memories and images. LC is also reporting intentions and interpretations reflecting the information processing of "entities" (her words), or dynamically changing info-energy systems (our words, Schwartz and Russek, 1999).
When LC describes how M is interpreting future changes in GD's life, for example, the languaging not only implies that M is living, but the precise way the information is being organized is recognized by GD as reflecting M's mind and personality.
In other words, it is the specific intentional and organizing nature of the way the information is received by LC and reported to GD that suggests that LC is not simply reporting the conscious or unconscious memories of GD and his extended network of family and friends. We term hypothesis 3 the organizing consciousness (or soul) hypothesis (reflecting the fact that it is the precise details of the organizing nature of the information that implies the continued existence of an intentional, living consciousness (soul).
[Note: One reviewer suggested that LC might be "role-playing and impersonating discarnate entities. This speculation, in the abstract, is correct. However, in the concrete, given the highly blinded nature of Phases 1 and II, the role-playing hypothesis seems somewhat unlikely in LC's case.]
In view of the decades of substantial and replicated experimental research in parapsychology (e.g. meta-analyses reviewed in Radin, 1997), it is prudent to consider the possibility not only that all three hypotheses may be true, but that hypotheses 1 and 2 (telepathy and superpsi) may be prerequisite mechanisms for discovering hypothesis 3 (e.g. the organizing consciousness). Hypotheses 1 and 2 may be intimately involved in the discovery of hypothesis 3. In other words, we propose that hypotheses 1 and 2 may provide the mechanistic foundation that allows hypothesis 3 to be documented (e.g. mediums claim that they engage in "telepathy" with the deceased). Together, they reflect an integrative triune approach to dynamic anomalous information retrieval.
Implications for Future Research
Future research can exploit the power of the pre-reading contemplation (Campbell) and sitter-silent (Russek) procedures in both single blind and double-blind experiments. Stimulated by the present findings, we are currently using the Campbell procedure (Phase 1), combined with the Russek procedure (Phase 2), with sitters who do not receive an actual medium-sitter dialogue condition (i.e. no Phase 3). Hence, the mediums never hear the sitter's voices and the sitter's never hear the medium's voices. Information obtained from both the Campbell and Russek procedures are then mailed to the sitter's under blinded conditions. Transcripts from five sitters (the sitter's own transcript and another four sitter's transcripts, which serve as controls) are scored, item by item, by each sitter. If the sitters can accurately determine which transcripts belong to them, this establishes anomalous information retrieval under strict double-blind conditions.
In one ongoing double-blind experiment, five mediums are serving not only in the role of mediums, but they are also serving in the role of sitters. Double-blinding the Campbell and Russek procedures makes this kind of experimental design possible.
[Note: After this report was written, GD, in the role of a medium, attempted the LC pre-reading contemplation paradigm with a sitter. He reported receiving accurate information of name, cause of death, age of death, personal descriptions, that matched the primary person invited by the sitter. The approximate accuracy was 85%. GD is currently serving as one of the mediums and sitters in the above double-blind experiment]
Future research can determine if characteristics of the sitter matter. For example, when mediums and spiritually open people serve as sitters in a double-blind experiment, is more specific and detailed information retrieved than when disbelievers and skeptics serve as sitters?
Publishing White Crow Research Readings
It is likely that future findings will not be substantially greater (in terms of accuracy) than are the present findings. Clearly, future experiments can replicate the basic observations reported here and document that they be generalized to other mediums, with other sitters.
However, in the same way that Michael Jordan (arguably the greatest basketball player who ever lived) achieved only a few 60+ point games, it seems likely that "Michael Jordans of research mediumship" will only have a few 90+% percent accuracy research readings under controlled laboratory conditions.
It is hoped that this paper, focused on the findings of a William James "white crow" research reading, will encourage other investigators to explore the potential of these experimental procedures and replicate the findings. Future papers using these procedures, replicating evidence of white crow research readings, can help firmly establish the existence of anomalous information retrieval, and potentially the continuance of consciousness.
Braude, S. E. (1992). Survival or super-psi? Journal of Scientific Exploration. 6,2:127-144.
G.E. (2001 in press). Messages: Evidence of Life After Death. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing.
Radin, D. (1997). The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena. San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins.
L.G.S., Schwartz, G.E.R., Russek, E. and Russek, H.I. (hyp) (1999). A possible approach for researching purported spirit communication: An empirical-anecdotal investigation. Advances in Mind-Body Medicine. 15,4: 295-301.
G.E.R. and Russek, L.G.S. (1999). The Living Energy Universe: A Fundamental Discovery that Transforms Science and Medicine. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing.
G.E.R., Russek, L.G.S., et al. (1999). Potential Medium to Departed to Medium Communication of Pictorial Information: Exploratory Evidence Consistent with Psi and Survival of Consciousness. The Noetics Journal. 2,3: 283-294.
G.E.R., Russek, L.G.S., Nelson, L.A. and Barentsen, C. (2001 in press). Accuracy and Replicability of Anomalous After-Death Communication Across Highly Skilled Mediums. The Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.
G.E.R., Russek, L.G.S., and Nelson, L.A. (2001, submitted for publication). Purported anomalous perception in a highly skilled individual: Observations, interpretations, compassion.
Schwartz, G. E. R., Russek, L.G.S., and Barentsen, C. (2001, submitted for publication).
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research,
2001. Evidence of anomalous information retrieval between two research mediums: Telepathy, network memory resonance, and continuance of consciousness
Gary E. R. Schwartz, Ph.D. and Linda G. S.
Russek, Ph.D. Human Energy Systems Laboratory
University of Arizona
Copyright 2002 Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D.
All Rights Reserved