Tips for personal experiments?

Discussion in 'Extended Consciousness & Spirituality' started by Alana, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. Alana

    Alana Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    Hi, I just joined Skeptiko and I was hoping I could bounce ideas off of some people for testing a medium. I’ve only done one reading so far, but this is my current procedure:

    I showed up without notice on a day where they did mini readings for a $20 donation (to me, it seems reasonable, they need to keep the lights on somehow). I gave them a fake first name and no last name and paid in cash. No person there knew me.

    Then, before the actual reading, I asked if it was okay if I wrote down what was said. If the medium had said no, I would have been suspicious, but she didn’t. She held my hands and said a quick prayer before closing her eyes. She kept them closed the entire time, and I kept my head down as I wrote. It would have been very hard for her to see my reactions and even then I did my best to keep a blank face.

    She asked no questions, there was no information fishing. She let lose a stream of consciousness and did not pause to gauge my reaction once. I wrote 3 pages worth of bullet point notes and offered no explanation as to who she saw.

    Then, when I got home, I categorized the information into three points: correct information, unknown, and false.

    She did not give any names, but the way she described two of the spirits - a couple, both old and similar in stature. The male with glasses, the female with a daydress - fit the image of my grandparents. The medium also said that they were concerned because I have made myself physically ill with worry. This is also true, recent events have made me so stressed my body went into “survival mode” where I didn’t feel hungry and was afraid to sleep.

    As for the unknowns, she listed tree other spirits besides the couple. One was male, and her choice of words was interesting while describing him: tall, thin, and related to me by blood. The medium had no way of knowing that I was adopted, and after checking with my birth mother, I did have an uncle that fit that description, he died in 2005. I cannot think of a way for the medium to have guessed that. For the other unknowns, the spirits said that I’d have an outlook change in 2-3 months, so sometime in April or May. I have no way of finding if that is true or not until those months, and even then I do not know what would cause that kind of outlook change.

    For false information...as of today, February 14, 2018, I have found no information that was wrong.


    Again, I would very much appreciate it if some members could reply and give advice to have tighter controls. I’m no scientist, but I am one of those “see it for yourself” types. I was fully prepared for this to be a fake medium, but the way she acted was genuine and I usually have a good sense of when someone’s trying to trick me.
     
    Laird likes this.
  2. If you want tighter controls you will probably need help from two assistants. Person A goes to the medium and says "I am getting this reading for a friend" (person B). This is called a proxy sitting. Have them do this again for person C. Then persons B and C try to figure out who each of the readings were for. Can each of them pick out the reading that was for them? That is the basic idea. You can do this with two different people to get more data for the same medium (A gets readings for D and E). This way you can measure an objective statistical effect instead of a subjective score for each reading.

    Many mediums will also give readings over the phone. Which could make it easier if you are going to be doing a lot of readings.

    http://www.windbridge.org/for-researchers/

    Beischel, J. (2007). Contemporary methods used in laboratory-based mediumship research. Journal of Parapsychology, 71, 37-68.
    http://windbridge.org/papers/BeischelJP71Methods.pdf


    Peer-Reviewed Research Articles
    http://www.windbridge.org/education/peer-reviewed/
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
    Wormwood and Laird like this.
  3. Alana

    Alana Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    Ah, the main issue with that is readings tend to be pricey, and I’m a bit tight on money. I don’t know if a medium would be willing to work for free.
     
  4. Ask the medium if she teaches a class in spirit communication or knows of a class and ask if the advanced students might be interested in participating in a research project. Offer to go to the class so they can practice giving you readings and get to know you first. (They should be happy to have you visit because they probably have been giving each other readings for years and know everything about each other so having a new person should be appreciated.) You can get to know them too, and explain the project while you are there. Have a policy on the ethical treatment of humans in scientific research ready and explain it to them.

    If they agree to participate you can be the person A (since they know you now and seem to trust you) and come back to the class to do proxy sittings for B, C, D, E, etc.

    The best mediums I knew were the advanced students in my class and did not work professionally.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  5. Alana

    Alana Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    That sounds like a great idea, thank you!
     
    Jim_Smith likes this.
  6. I haven't looked at the research methods described at the links I posted to the Windbridge Institute recently so I don't know if this is covered ... but I would consider working into the protocol some way of eventually giving the medium some kind of feedback (if they want it) after the readings are examined by B, and C etc (was the person able to correctly identify a medium's reading?). You can discuss this with the mediums to see how they feel about it. Future feedback might produce better readings and might help the students learn (benefit) from their participation.

    Also, I don't know if I need to say this so I will just in case: don't act superior because you are a researcher and they are ignorant lay people. Treat participating mediums like fellow researchers not lab rats. Try to get their input as much as possible. They could have suggestions that you might not think of, and you want them to feel enthusiastic about the research not as if they are being treated like a piece of lab equipment.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  7. Alana

    Alana Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    An update on the off chance anybody subscribed to this thread:

    I’ve scheduled another reading from a medium in Cassadaga, FL. I will be paying in cash and she only has my phone number for making sure I’m going to the reading. Any suggestions on what to do?
     
  8. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    4,343
    Alana,

    Here are a few random thoughts.

    Your first reading sounded like a great start! I can well understand that Julie Beischel's method of multiple blinding might be a bit daunting to try at this stage. Also, Beischel was doing serious research and could access the top mediums, and also asked them ahead of time (I think) if they felt comfortable with the multiple blinding procedure. I think it might be better to work more naturally with the medium - as you did the first time.

    If you want to tighten up the procedure a bit further, I wonder if you could arrange for someone else who wouldn't know the details of your family to take the actual notes - or would an audio recording be allowed - preferably transcribed by someone other than you? Also, I hope the phone number that you used was a mobile - landlines have an area code that might help someone to cheat.

    My grandfather left me a small wooden box that opens out into a writing table. When he was alive he used to go through its contents with me as a young boy. Maybe you have something equally special. Even if you can't ask questions, I guess you could hold that object in mind during the reading - perhaps your relative might pick up on this and mention it. This might be a lot easier if you have someone else record the notes.

    It would be awfully interesting to know what percentage of mediums seem to be doing well enough to suggest they are making a real connection to the spirit world (but that might consume too many $20 fees).

    It might be worth discussing this with Alex, because he has done a bit of experimenting in the past. Maybe he might even want to help.

    David
     
    Laird likes this.
  9. Alana

    Alana Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    Idk if audio recording will be allowed, but I am planning to go with a friend, maybe she could take the notes. As for the phone number, I did use my mobile, so no worries there. I’m just holding out hope that I’ll get The Big One, the reading I won’t be able to excuse no matter what. Even with the other medium and her knowing about my previously unknown-to-me blood related uncle, I’m still having doubts. That may just be on me, though.

    If I may ask, David, what convinced you all of this was real? No matter how much I read I just can’t convince myself.

    And as for talking to Alex, if he has the time I would love to.
     
  10. Laird

    Laird Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2015
    Messages:
    1,355
    Just curious, Alana: did this prediction end up coming true?
     
  11. Alana

    Alana Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    Strangely enough, it did. Turns out an ex-friend of mine has been emotionally manipulating me for years, using me to get sympathy and use me as an emotional dumping ground. I’ve cut him off completely and I’d like to think I’ve grown as a person from it. I’m not too sure of this is what the reading meant, but it is the only significant thing that’s happened since then.
     
    Laird likes this.
  12. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    4,343
    First, I prefer to say that I am 95% convinced, because I don't want to get into the neurotic "I believe..." stuff that you find among religions - I gave up Christianity at university, a long time ago.

    I would say I have had two or three psychic experiences, but none were of sufficient quality to convince me of anything.

    Initially I was completely materialist, and as I became more interested in computers, I came to believe that Artificial Intelligence(AI) was about to transform computing. I assumed that what goes on in the brain was effectively a computation, and therefore that computer software could be made to actually think! AI was all the rage for the decade of the 1980's - endless articles about what it would be able to do, the jobs that would be lost, blah, blah! At the end of that decade essentially nothing was delivered, and it didn't seem to have anything to do with the need for more computing power. People just seemed to forget about it. I'd had some peripheral involvement in that subject, and I had felt uneasy about the subject for some time - so its crash did not surprise me. What frustrated me, was that almost nobody wanted to learn from that - learn perhaps that consciousness was not equivalent to computation - something which should have been obvious to all, because computation doesn't involve any actual experiences (now usually referred to as qualia), and nobody had any ideas how computers could be made to experience anything.

    Over the years, I had read the odd paper that described actual scientific experiments that seemed to show that ψ effects were real - some with impressive statistics. Then one day, I watched a TV program on paranormal phenomena, and an 'expert' (unfortunately I don't remember who it was) explained that there was no scientific evidence for psychic phenomena! If he had mentioned a few papers and explained his reasons for discounting these, I would have accepted his judgement, but since he was prepared to dissemble to his audience, I decided this was campaigning science - not really science at all. If science isn't honest, it isn't anything except a waste of money.

    Obviously once I had read a bit of the scientific literature on ψ (Dean Radin and Rupert Sheldrake in particular) I began to realise that the case against ψ was actually rather weak, and rested completely on accusations of shoddy experimentation, fraud, coincidence etc.

    Also, above all, there is still no theory as to how the brain could possibly generate experiences! Of course, we are in another AI bubble right now, and it would seem that most people are unaware of what happened in 1980. I have predicted that products like self-driving cars will never work properly, and it is beginning to look as if self driving cars are indeed impossible - except perhaps in incredibly controlled situations. Anyway, we shall see over the next few years!

    David
     
  13. Alana

    Alana Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    Yeah, I get not wanting to 100% subscribe to an idea.

    Maybe we’re already taking the first steps to accepting psi. I mean, I can’t count how many health magazines I’ve seen lately touting mindfulness as a brand new health method.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
    Wormwood likes this.
  14. Alana

    Alana Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    I went to two mediums at cassadaga, I audio recorded everything and tried to transcribe it. I now have a whole new level of respect for Alex.

    The first medium was one I made an appointment with. She had only a fake name and my phone number. She began by reading my aura.

    I won’t describe it in detail, but she basically got me in a box. She asked if I was a writer, though I don’t put much stock in this personally as I brought in a notebook if I needed to take notes.

    She asked if my mother has passed. When I said no, she asked if my grandmother had passed. She talks about my grandmother, saying that she loved me, but that she wasn’t always warm and fuzzy. Again, I don’t put much stock in this because she explicitly asked if anyone had passed.

    She mentioned a boy that was standing behind me and that he was showing her a bike, meaning we used to ride bikes together or he used to ride his bike a lot.

    Back in fifth grade, I used to ride my bikes with maybe five or six boys in the neighborhood, though I don’t know how to check in and see if any have passed since I’ve moved.

    The medium also said that “I’d know for sure that they’re on the other side” when I reach 31. I have no idea what that means but it looks like I’ve got a few years until I find out.

    What’s interesting is that with the second medium, she mentioned a non-family related male next to me. She said he was my age but about 12 or thirteen when he died and that it was an accidental drug overdose. This somewhat matches up with what the first medium said, as she mentioned he was about 14 when he died. The second medium also gave me a description: five foot seven with sandy hair. Again, I currently have no way of checking to see if anyone from my childhood has passed unless I decide to comb through obituaries in my area around the time I was 12–14.

    My friends are talking about going to cassadaga again. I’ll see if any other readings can provide the same info as before.
     
    Typoz likes this.
  15. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    4,343
    Alana,

    That is kind of tantalising. If you have any way of checking on the various boys that might have been the one referred to, it would certainly be interesting - anything that gives you new information is significant.

    Is there one boy you particularly liked back then - you might be able to narrow the search down a bit. Dare I ask how old you are now?

    David
     
  16. Alana

    Alana Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    I didn’t like
    I didn’t like any boys in a romantic sense back then, and I’ve already discarded two as a suspect as for one we lived about two houses down from each other through the 12-14 year period and the other doesn’t match the description.

    The medium also mentioned that “he liked it when I smiled, but I didn’t smile that often”. No idea if that’ll be relevant.

    As for my age, I’m 19, so I’d have to check about seven to five years back in the obituaries, even then, it might not lead anywhere. Perhaps I can ask one of my friends if anyone passed in middle school as that was the year I switched to private school.

    I have one suspect I’m leaning towards. He and I used to go to the same Dojo in elementary school, though he was a year younger than me. I considered him a friend and a kind of rival, though my memories of back then are fuzzy. I don’t want to make assumptions and throw this all off. The last time I saw him was on Halloween in sixth or seventh grade, when he happened to be trick or treating in my neighborhood.
     
  17. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    4,343
    It is obviously a bit awkward - you obviously don't want him to have died, and yet it would be fascinating if he had.

    I think this experiment may be easier for someone who is older, because they know more people who have died.

    Don't forget that he may have felt some romantic interest in you, even if you didn't feel the same way.

    Since this didn't happen many years ago, I guess you may be able to pin down this completely. If you GOOGLE the place where you lived plus the full name of the boy, I guess you may discover something. Have you thought of letting the mediums know if you do manage to confirm their readings?

    David
     
  18. Alana

    Alana Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    Honestly, the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. Though googling it sounds like a good idea. I’ll get on that.
     
  19. Alana

    Alana Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2018
    Messages:
    30
    Actually, this could be another aspect of the research: how much of the data between different mediums matches up. If it’s consistent, then this will be interesting to observe.
     
  20. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    4,343
    Yes it will - though rather expensive, unless Alex wants to give you a grant!

    These things are hard to score in a totally objective way (as Julie Beischel did), but in a way, we all want evidence that provides subjective evidence, not a series of tests with p < 0.00000001. Lots of psychic studies are very boring (such as card guessing) but cumulatively yield amazing statistics, but hands on evidence provides a different kind of evidence - more convincing to human beings!

    David
     

Share This Page