|Hines Chapter 2 Psychics and Psychic Phenomena
Kate and Margaret Fox - Hines cites this 1800s incident as the beginning of "Spiritualism." Knocks and rapping noises began in the Fox home. The sisters later admitted they were simple tricks.
Society for Psychical Research (SPR) - Was founded by scientists in England in 1882 to investigate paranormal phenomena.
1. Initially, the scientists and psychics they studied had a good working relationship.
2. Later, they came to differ on how they "interpreted" spiritual phenomena (i.e., telepathy vs. intervention by "spirits").
Michael Faraday - Through several experiments, demonstrated that table "tipping" (moving) was due to consciously imperceptible muscle movements on the part of the "sitters."
Ouija Board - A "spirit" board with letters and numbers, yes and no. Two participants rest their fingers on the "planchette" (a small triangle that slides on the board). Questions are asked and spirits guide the planchette to point out the answers. Just as with Faraday's table tipping, the movement is due to consciously imperceptible muscle movements on the part of the participants.
Dissociative States - According to Hines, most mediums are just frauds. The behaviors of mediums who are NOT frauds may be due to dissociative states.
Helene Smith - See Irwin for details.
Automatic Writing - Another name for Xenoglossy (the medium's handwriting supposedly being controlled by a spirit)
Robert Hare - Designed what he thought was a good experiment to test the abilities of a medium. Despite his efforts, he was easily deceived and impressed.
Harry Houdini - According to Hines, the person most responsible for the decline in the public's acceptance of spiritualist claims. Born Erich Weiss, he took his name from the famous French magician Houdin. He was a "superstar" in his day and, as we'll see, there is much more to be said about him. The death of his mother led to his first contact with mediums whom he quickly saw through. At his death he arranged a code with his wife Bess who held annual seances on the anniversary of his death. He never made contact.
Magicians and Spotting Tricks - Robert Hare and many other scientists were taken in by mediums and psychics. According to Hines, the persons best equipped to investigate paranormal activity are "magicians" because they are well versed in all of the psychic tricks.
Channeling - A recent variation on mediumship which does away with sleight of hand, gimmickry, tipping tables, etc. "Ramtha" speaking through Mrs. J. Z. Knight is an example of:
Shirley MacLaine - A very attractive and talented actress (best known during the 1970s) believes in many paranormal phenomena including channeling and is a fan of J. Z. Knight. MacLaine may have been the inspiration for the character of Sony Bono's wife in the film "Mars Attacks."
Camp Chesterfield - A resort like setting where believers, especially the elderly, go to make contact with deceased friends and relatives. Needless to say, they are pretty expensive.
M. Lamar Keane - Was a former Camp Chesterfield medium who later wrote a book "The Psychic Mafia" in which he exposed the workings of modern spiritualism. One of his specialties was apporting lost objects. An accomplice would gain entry to the "target's" home and take or hide an object more sentimental than valuable. Later, the object could be apported at a seance OR Keane could tell the target where to find the lost object.
Apportation - Causing objects to appear out of thin air, purportedly from the spirit world.
Billet Reading - The more technical name for "the old one ahead" as practiced by Johnny Carson's "Amazing Carnac." The psychic supposedly answers the question contained in the envelope he is holding up to his head. In reality, he read that question when he opened the last envelope, and when he opens this envelope he will have the question supposedly in the next envelope.
Cold Reading - The psychic's most basic and powerful method. "Cold readers" make use of the fact that most human problems fall into three areas: sex, money, and health.
Cold Reader's Tools/Techniques(3) Cited by Hines:
1. inflecting the end of a statement so it sounds like a question.
2. giving statements with "multiple outs."
3. telling the victim what he or she wants to hear.
Tarot Cards - Often used by cold readers, they have been around since the 14th century. Many complex systems and variations have evolved.
Susan Blackmore's Experiment - Using Tarot cards, she gave personality readings to subjects "face to face." Most rated the readings as "very accurate." However, when asked to pick the same printed "reading" from among nine others, they were unable to correctly identify theirs, choosing instead, readings that were very general.
Ray Hyman and Palmistry (palm reading) - Demonstrates how cold reading and other methods can convince the "psychic" that he or she, in fact, does have psychic ability.
Sleight of Tongue - Basically "fast talking." Psychics talk so fast that they can easily cover up mistakes and focus on the "hits" that they do make. John Edward (the psychic, not the politician) is a true master of this technique.
The Barnum Effect - Named for the famous P. T. Barnum who said "There's a sucker born every minute." If you read most people a very general "stock speil" (story) that is supposedly about them, they will believe that the information really is specific to them.
Double Headed Statements - Will always seem correct and the "stock speil" will have many of them. E.g., "Usually extraverted and outgoing, there are times when you are retiring and unsure of yourself."
Psychic Prediction (Prophets):
Michel Nostradamus - Produced the largest body of work and has been the most studied of all prophets (clairvoyants). Believers see his predictions as amazingly accurate, skeptics view it as gibberish.
1. He wrote 1,000 verses divided into 10 "centuries," each with 100 verses.
2. The verses were organized into four line "quatrains."
3. He wrote in a vague mix of French and Latin to avoid persecution.
4. He would see his visions while gazing into a bowl of water atop a tripod.
5. For believers, his greatest and most specific prediction involves the rise and fall of Adolph Hitler.
6. Other predictions include the atom bomb, jet aircraft, military tanks, the Kennedy assasinations, and most recently, the "9/11" tragedy.
Post Hoc Explanations - The critics say (correctly) that all of these interpretations are "after the fact" and with so much material to work with, it is easy to find passages that fit the events.
Edgar Cayce (not in book) - AKA the "Sleeping Prophet" and probably the best known 20th century prophet. He would prophesize while in sleep-like trances with fingers twitching. He predicted that Atlantis would be discovered in the 1960s. Some thought he was right when the Bimini Wall was found....NOT.
The Wreck of the Titan - was a book written in 1898 that was eerily similar to the story of the sinking of the Titanic and was seen as phophetic. However, when looked at critically, most of the predictions are not as amazing as they appear.
Jeane Dixon - A popular predictor of the 1960 era. She rose to fame when an earlier (1956) vague prediction (that a democrat would win the 1960 election and "be assassinated or die in office) was retroactively made more specific after the JFK assassination in 1963. Played down was that in 1960 she predicted that JFK would lose the election.
Tamara Rand - Another modern psychic who, in the 1980s, predicted on videotape the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley. It later came out that the tape was a fake, created after the failed attempt.
Psychic Crime Prediction - Dorothy Allison is probably the most famous "psychic detective." She was called in to help with the famous 1980-81 series of child murders in Atlanta. She produced so many suspects that she was useless in solving the case. She was also not impressive here in good old Columbus. According to Hines, the "multiple out" is key to her method.
"Failed predictions are not news and are soon forgotten" (Hines)
Reiser et. al. (1979) - Experimentally tested psychic crime prediction ability. They gave 12 psychics information (clues) about four "cases." As a group, the psychics performed no better than at chance levels. The most common mistake was to think the clues had something to do with the "Hillside Strangler" case which was big news at the time.
Ted Serios's Thought Pictures - Discovered by Jule Eisenbud, Serious became a sensation in the 1960s when an article about him appeared in "Life" magazine. His psychokinetic ability was to photograph his head with a polaroid camera and have an image appear on the film. Serios rarely produced an image of what was requested and told critics the images required "interpretation." For example, when he was asked to produce an image of the submarine Thresher, the image he actually produced was of Queen Elizabeth II.
Serious's "Gizmo" - Was a tube (small enough to be "palmed") with a lens at one end and a photo transparency at the other. He was sometimes allowed to use it and sometimes used it covertly.
Prophetic Dreams and the Mathematical Law of Large Numbers - According to Hines, virtually all "prophetic dreams" can be explained by the "mathematical law of large numbers," which states that if an event is given enough opportunities to happen, it eventually will. With seventy billion dreams occuring in the US each night, some are going seem inexplicable prophetic.
Deja Vu - In French it literally means "already seen." Accordion to Hines, this occurs when two memory processes that normally occur together (sense of familiarity and the actual memory) malfunction. We experience the sense of familiarity but WITHOUT the memory that should accompany it.
Demonic Possession and Neuropathology - Hine's cites several neurological disorders that can produce behaviors which look like "possession" as seen in the movie "The Exorcist":
1. Giles De La Tourette's Syndrome - The individual blurts out obscenities and incoherent sounds, has twitches and tics, and may be aggressive.
2. Epilepsy - Especially the type that involves the temporal lobe. In a grand mal seizure, the body flails about as if controlled by an outside force. Often, an Aura (sense of impending doom) preceeds the seizure.
3. Migraine Headaches - Occur when blood vessels constrict and then rapidly expand. If the visual cortex in the occipital lobe is affected by this lowered blood supply, "Fortification Illusions" and other visual effects may be produced. These are so named because their brick-like nature resembles the massive walls found in fortresses of the Middle Ages. These visual illusions are similar to the drawings of "religious mystics" and others who have claimed to have "visions."
The Ten Percent Myth - Suggests that we only use 10% of our brains and that if we could use the other 90% we would all be psychic. Hines points out that there is no evidence that we that much "extra brain" waiting to be used.
Hines Chapter 3 Life and Death
Eyewitness Reports - According to Hines, the most dramatic and seemingly convincing evidence for the existence of ghosts comes from "Eyewitness Reports" which are notorious for their inaccuracy (due to the "constructive nature" of both perception and memory).
Hypnagogic Hallucinations - Ghosts are MOST COMMONLY seen just after retiring to bed. In this semi-awake state, hypnagogic hallucinations (of ghosts) are common and seem much more real than dreams. Auditory Hallucinations (voices) are most common but visual hallucinations also occur.
Hypnopompic Hallucinations - Similar to above BUT these occur as the person is awakening in the morning.
Borley Rectory - Became known as the "the most haunted house in England," after a book by that name was published by Harry Price. In the 1950s, members of the SPR researched the case and concluded that aside from the trickery of Price, and others, the case offered little of interest.
The Amityville Horror - Probably the most famous haunted house in America. 1. In 1974, six members of the DeFeo Family were shot by a seventh member, son Ronny. The murders were the result of the the DeFeos being a troubled family, not possession.
2. After buying the house, George and Kathy Lutz, along with lawyer William Weber, concocted the story as way of making money. It made a good story.
3. Owners since the Lutzes have reported nothing out of the ordinary.
Poltergeists - Literally means "playful spirit."
The Adolescent Child - According to Hines, poltergeists are almost always associated with the presence of an adolescent child. Some parapsychologists suggest that the onset of puberty and accompanying increase in sexual energy causes a release of psychic energy which is responsible for the poltergeist activity.
The Tina Resch Case - Is the most well known poltergeist case (according to Hines):
1. The phenomena started shortly after Tina saw the film "Poltergeist.
2. Parapsychologist William Roll was taken in and felt he had observed "recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis" (RSPK).
3. Though denied entrance to the home, James Randi was instrumental in proving that Tina was simply tossing things around when nobody was looking.
NDE phenomena - Many NDE believers point to the similarity of experience across cultures as evidence for the validity of NDE. According to Hines, these similarities are "highly exaggerated."
Frequency of NDE - According to Hines, the frequency of NDE experiences is quite rare. Most people lying critically ill in the emergency room DON'T experience them.
Cerebral Anoxia - According to Hines, this is the most likely candidate as the cause of NDE (and out of body, OBE) experiences. As brain cells die (from lack of oxygen), the typical NDE hallucinations occur (bright light, tunnel, meeting with friends, etc.).
Registration of Verbal Stimuli During NDE - Surgical Patients reporting near death experiences often claim having been able to see and hear events in the operating room. To test this, Millar and Watkinson (1983) played a taped list of words while patients were under anesthesia. Though the patients could not later "recall" the words, they were able to correctly pick out which of two words they had heard a "recognition" task (when presented with pairs of words). So, some information did "register." These researchers suggest that the voices of friends and others people report hearing during NDE experiences might be bits and pieces of voices overheard in the operating room during surgery.
Consequences of NDE - According to Hines, most people who experience become more secure and religious and may adopt a more mystical and spiritual world view.
OBE and Astral Projection - Some claim they can leave their bodies (in non-life threatening situations). When they travel through space, this is called "Astral Projection." While some believe the tendency of OBEers to see themselves from above is supportive of the phenomenon, Hines says this is how anyone would "envision him or her self." Try it!
Characteristics of OBEers - According to Hines, OBEers possess the following psychological characteristics:
1. Are good at forming visual images.
2. Have the ability to become "deeply absorbed."
3. Are less able than others to distinguish reality from fantasy.
Reincarnation - According to Hines, support for the validity of this come from reports of people, either under hypnosis or spontaneously, remembering past lives.
The Case of Bridey Murphy - According to Hines, is the most famous reincarnation case. American born Virginia Tighe was regressed to a previous life in Cork Ireland as "Bridey Murphy." It was later discovered that:
1. As a child, Ms. Tighe had an Irish neighbor who told her stories about life there.
2. The neighbor's name was Bridey Murphy.
3. Ms. Tighe had been involved in theatre in high school and had done several roles which required her to speak in a "heavy Irish brogue."
The Jane Evans Case - See Irwin for a detailed explanation of this famous reincarnation case.
Capturing the Voices of the Dead on Audiotape - Many believe that the voices of the dead can be captured on magnetic recording tape. According to Hines, all that is needed to produce convincing evidence is to take a tape recorder out into the woods on a breezy day and let it run for a while.
Regression and Progression - A variation on regression (especially among "new agers") is to "progress" people into future lives. According to Hines, to date, they have all been progressed too far into the future (2100 or later) to bring back any specific information that could provide proof of the phenomenon now or in the near future.