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Parapsychology Foundation’s Enduring Legacy
as Seen Through the Prism of
Recent and Upcoming Conferences
Nancy L. Zingrone, Ph.D.
These days, like a lot of other organizations, Parapsychology Foundation is struggling to stay afloat. Lisette Coly’s efforts to attain this goal are heroic, in my opinion, and I think that a lot of folks who have benefited one way or another from the PF’s largesse over the years would agree with my assessment. Whenever I attend a convention in the field I am always reminded of the importance of PF’s legacy. So many scholarship, grant and award recipients have made real contributions to the field over the years.
My own career and that of my husband, Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado’s, are examples of the particular importance of the early career support for which PF is so well-known. Carlos was an invited speaker at the PF conference that took place in New Orleans in 1984 (“Current Trends in Psi Research”) when he wasn’t yet 30 years. I got a grant supporting the independent judging in my first Ganzfeld experiment in the 1980s when I was also in my 30s, and then a Garrett Scholarship when I headed off to Edinburgh to do my Ph.D. in the mid-1990s. As important as the money was to me and the invitation was to Carlos, just having Eileen and Lisette Coly in our corner was a real morale booster for us. I imagine that’s also true of other recipients.
Recent Conferences in Parapsychology: The 54th Annual PA in Brazil This Past August 18th-21th, 2011
Recently, at the 54th Annual Parapsychological Association in Curitiba, Brazil, the program featured a number of PF recipients. The Arrangements Chair for this excellent event was Fabio Eduardo da Silva, a member of the faculty of the Universidad Dr. Bezerra de Menezes (UNIBEM), the 2006 recipient of the PF’s General Scholarly Incentive Award, and the 2003 recipient of the PF’s Travel Incentive Award. da Silva is also the Director of the Integrated Centre of Experimental Research at UNIBEM, as well a doctoral student at the University of São Paulo (USP) where he studies with Dr. Wellington Zangari, the 2005 recipient of PF’s Frances P. Bolton Fellowship, one of PF’s International Affiliates for Brazil, and a Professor of Social Psychology at USP. da Silva also presented a paper on an exploratory group experience in psi training conducted at the Integrated Centre. The Program Chair Dr. Marios Kittenis, who was an invited observer at Utrecht II: Charting the Future of Parapsychology, a ground-breaking conference organized by the Foundation as well as the Bolton Fellowship recipient in 2009, put together a very interesting and very international conference.
Among the participants were members of Dr. Zangari’s PF Member Organization, “Interpsi,” now located in the Institute of Psychology at the University of São Paulo. PF’s other Brazilian International Affiliate, 2003 D. Scott Rogo Award winner and 2001 Perspective Series Lecturer, Dr. Fátima Regina Machado participated in the conference, as did one of Zangari’s many masters and doctoral students.
Also from Brazil, Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida was among the presenters. Moreira-Almeida received a PF Travel Incentive Award in 2006, and among the activities funded by that award, Moreira-Almeida gave a PF Perspectives Series Lecture on the history of mediumship in Brazil at the Eileen J. Garrett Research Library in Greenport, New York. Now a Professor of Psychiatry at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Moreira-Almeida supervises an interdisciplinary group of graduate students and directs the Research Center in Spirituality and Health.
From England, two D. Scott Rogo Award Winners, Dr. Chris Roe (1999) and Dr. Simon Sherwood (2006) — now faculty members at the University of Northampton — were very much in evidence on the program. Along with their post-graduate student Glenn Hitchman, they presented a paper on psychological and belief-related variables as predictors of success on a precognitive task. Roe and Hitchman also presented an unsuccessful test of morphic resonance theory using Chinese symbols. Together with his University of Northampton colleague Dr. Richard S. Broughton and post-graduate student Sophie Drennan, Roe also gave a research brief on the development of a lability scale. Sherwood presented both a paper reviewing his work on black dog apparitions and a research brief on an upcoming study on the characteristics of people who have, and have not had, an experience of “ghostly phenomena.” Dr. Elizabeth Roxborough, a Northampton faculty member who won the 2006 Charles T. and Judith A. Tart Award, presented a methodological paper on the use of interpretative phenomenology analysis in the study of mental mediumship. She and Roe also presented in a mental mediumship panel organized by Alvarado.
Dr. Alejandro Parra, who took up the reigns of the Parapsychological Association (PA) Presidency at the convention in Curitiba, is the PF’s International Affiliate for Argentina. His own research output over the years, and that of his group at the Institute for Paranormal Psychology in Buenos Aires, has been prodigious. At this year’s PA he presented both a pilot study conducted by himself and a colleague that looked at scores on a free-response ESP test between groups with different levels of hypnotizability, and a research brief on a project to explore the personality traits of psychic claimants.
The out-going PA President, Dr. David Luke of the University of Greenwich, was also a PF Award recipient, having obtained General Scholarly Incentive Awards in both 2006 and 2009. Not only did Luke preside over the convention in a charming and effective manner but he also organized a very interesting panel discussion on ayahausca and exceptional human experiences. He and one of his students also co-presented an interesting study of dreams, psi and circadian rhythms.
Other luminaries in the field who attended the PA Convention in Curitiba included Dr. Stanley Krippner — a long-time supporter of the PF, one of its first Perspective Lecturers (on psi and dissociation in 1998) and an intrepid psychologist with an incredibly diverse career spanning a wide variety of aspects of psychology and parapsychology — and Dr. Roger Nelson, who lectured on his Global Consciousness Project in the PF Perspectives series of 2003 and who not only presented at update on that project at the conference but comment in the question and answer period on the presentation by Takeshi Shimizu who, with several colleagues in Japan, conducted a very interesting and psychologically-informed study of global consciousness.
Among the invited speakers, were Dr. Wellington Zangari, whose presentation focused on anomalistic psychology in Brazil, Alvarado who reviewed distortions in the understanding of parapsychology’s past, and Dr. Etzel Cardeña of Lund University (a Garrett Scholarship recipient while a graduate student in 1985, a contributor to the PF Blog Series as well as an invited speaker at Utrecht II) who discussed altered states of consciousness in some depth.
Among the other papers, addresses and presentations were offerings on hypnotizability and other predicts of Ganzfeld task performance (by Cardeña and his student), presentiment (by Julia Mossbridge and her colleagues), a biophysical methodology to investigate the spatial distribution of bio-PK (by Hideyuki Kokubo an invited observer at Utrecht II and his colleagues), and a fascinating study of Lebanese adults who had been the focus of Ian Stevenson’s past-life memory research when they were children (by Erlendur Haraldsson and Majd Abu-Izzedin), an insightful cross-cultural analysis of ghost hunting groups in the USA and in Germany (Gerhard Mayer). Posters included Marios Kittenis’ study of EEG activity in a face recognition memory task, and Ed Modestino and his colleagues analysis of anomalous physiological responses to local and remote emotive stimulation.
Upcoming Conferences: Atlantic University’s “Parapsychology and Consciousness” Conference this coming October 14-16th, 2011
If you didn’t have the good luck to attend the 54th Annual Parapsychological Association, may I suggest that Atlantic University’s “Parapsychology and Consciousness” Conference to be held in less than a month in Virginia Beach, Virginia on the eastern seaboard of the United States would be a great substitute. The conference starts Friday, October 14th at noon with a reception and continues through Sunday evening at 6:15p.m. The conference has an amazing line up put together by Carlos S. Alvarado. It opens with welcomes from Kevin Todeschi, the CEO of both Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. and Atlantic University, followed by comments from Carlos and I. The first speaker on Friday is Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore, the 2004 Bolton Fellow, the 2007 Rogo Award Winner, and an invited speaker at the Foundation’s Utrecht II: Charting the Future of Parapsychology, is also a faculty member at both Atlantic University and the University of West Georgia, as well as a researcher attached to the Rhine Research Center. Her presentation “How do Synesthesias relate to Anomalous Experiences” will cover an online survey of synesthesia experiences and a laboratory experiment in which strong synesthetes were compared with matched controls on an ESP task. Following the coffee break, Dr. Edwin C. May of the Laboratories of Fundamental Research will give an invited address called “Application of Fuzzy Sets to Natural Anomalous Cognition (a.k.a Remote Viewing) Targets.” On Friday evening, Dr. Roger Nelson, an invited observer at Utrecht II, will give the Fall Visiting Scholar Lecture, The Global Consciousness Project.
On Saturday morning I have the pleasure of introducing Dr. Doug Richards, a long-time Atlantic University faculty member who will give an invited address called “Parapsychology Research at the A.R.E. and Atlantic University.” Following Dr. Richards’ presentation, James Van Auken, a faculty member at both Atlantic University and the Cayce/Reilly School of Massotherapy will moderate a panel called “What a Masters in Parapsychology Should Look Like.” I will give a talk called “Designing a Curriculum for a Masters in Parapsychology.” Following my presentation, three of our faculty members, Carlos, Doug Richards and Christine Simmonds-Moore will give talks on course they designed for the existing Masters of Transpersonal Studies degree: “Atlantic University’s Principles of Parapsychology Course” (Doug Richards), “History of Parapsychology” (Carlos) and “Psychology of Psychic Experiences.”
On Saturday afternoon in a paper session entitled “Parapsychology and Psychology,” Atlantic University’s Dr Henry Reed will talk about “Intimacy and ESP.” Dr. John Palmer, who has spoken at at least three of the Parapsychology Foundation’s international conferences and who has been at the Rhine Research Center for many years, will tackle a persistence problem for scientific parapsychology. His talk is called “Confront the Source-of-Psi Problem.” Dr. Jim Carpenter, also of the Rhine Research Center and also a past participant in the Foundation’s international conferences, will present his “First Sight” theory. Following Carpenter, Dr. Frank Pasciuti, a clinical psychologist from Charlottesville, Virginia, will examine the relationship of his discipline to parapsychology.
Saturday evening, Atlantic University will present Dr. Dean Radin, the Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and author of The Conscious Universe among other important books and articles. Dr. Radin’s lecture is called “Before the Tipping Point: Reconsidering the Nature of Consciousness.”
Sunday, October 16th is the last day of the conference and will begin with a paper detailing research that I conducted with Carlos and our colleague from the University of Virginia, Natasha Agee. The research, funded by the Bial Foundation in Portugal, looked into the relationship of psychic experiences, the psychology state/trait of absorption and adult memories of childhood imaginary companions. My talk will be followed by a talk by Loyd Auerbach, who participated in the Foundation’s mediumship conference in 2005 as well as gave a Perspectives Lecture in 2006. Loyd’s talk, “The Haunting of the USS Hornet” will provide an update on an on-going investigation. A panel discussion on the future of the field will follow with presentations by Dr. Robert Van de Castle, a long-time grant recipient of the Parapsychology Foundation who is also on the faculties of the University of Virginia and Atlantic University, Carlos, Dr. Ginette Nachman who has been on the staff and on the Board of the Rhine Research Center in the past, and Dr. Edwin C. May, the physicist who ran the Stargate Program for the Department of Defense for many decades and is the founder of the Laboratories for Fundamental Research. The talks will be “The Mutlifaceted Nature of Psi Dreams: Some Suggestions for the Future” (Van de Castle), “Researching Out-of-Body Experiences” (Alvarado), “Biomedical Aspects of Psi” (Nachman), and “The Future of Psi Research: A Physics Perspective” (May).
After lunch on Sunday, the final session of the conference will include two papers and an invited address. In the papers, David McMillin of the Meridian Institute will present a talk called “Edgar Cayce’s Psychic Process.” This will be followed by Loyd Auerbach’s “The Field Investigators’ Best Tech: Psychics and Mediums as Paranormal Sensing ‘Technology’.” Finally, Dr. Julie Beischel, also a past presenter at a Parapsychology Foundation International Conference and the founder of The Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential, will present her address, “Modern Mediumship Research: Experiments, Experiences, and Explanations.”
The conference registration page contains prices for the entire conference ($395 full price, $375 for students and seniors), and for segments of the conference. Dr. Nelson’s Visiting Scholars Lecture and Dr. Radin’s Saturday evening lecture are $30 each, Friday afternoon attendance is prices at $80, and all day Saturday and all day Sunday at $160 each. The conference information page also has click throughs to the hotels, both of which are in the $80-$95 range in October. More information is available on the Atlantic University website. If you download the Media Press Kit you’ll find not only the conference brochure and schedule but also the abstracts booklet. Come and join us! It’s going to be a unique and exciting conference in a wonderful venue!
I want to thank Lisette Coly for letting me do a conference report on the 54th Annual PA Convention in the Parapsychology Foundation’s blog series and for also okaying the advertising of our own Atlantic University conference. I’d also like to say one more thing: if you’re like me and you really want the Parapsychology Foundation to continue doing its good work in the field of parapsychology, I’d urge you to donate. The main website has a donation page that gives some ideas. The Foundation has supported us all these years, it’s time for us to help support the Foundation!