Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Secondary Analysis of Sitter Group Data: Testing Hypotheses from the PK Literature / Analyse Secondaire De Donnees D'un Sitter Group: Test Des Hypotheses Issues De la Litterature Sur la PK / Sekundaranalyse Von Daten Aus Gruppensitzungen: Zur Uberprufung Von Hypothesen Aus der PK-Literatur / Analisis Secundario De Datos De Un Grupo Alrededor De Una Mesa: Evaluacion De Hipotesis De la Literatura PK

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Secondary Analysis of Sitter Group Data: Testing Hypotheses from the PK Literature / Analyse Secondaire De Donnees D'un Sitter Group: Test Des Hypotheses Issues De la Litterature Sur la PK / Sekundaranalyse Von Daten Aus Gruppensitzungen: Zur Uberprufung Von Hypothesen Aus der PK-Literatur / Analisis Secundario De Datos De Un Grupo Alrededor De Una Mesa: Evaluacion De Hipotesis De la Literatura PK

Article excerpt

Some psychical researchers have devised a schema for investigating group psychokinesis (PK). Sitter groups put their hands on a table and, after socialization, perceive that it moves through psychokinesis (PK). Batcheldor (1966, 1979, 1994) offered psychological explanations for this effect. Lucadou (1995, 2015) provided a quantum/information systems model explaining stages within group PK. Owen and Sparrow (1976) described an experiment supporting an alternative to Spiritualist explanations. The Society for Research on Rapport and Telekinesis (SORRAT) advocated rapport (close, harmonious relations among participants) as a means for inducing PK (Richards, 1982). McClenon (2018) discussed SORRAT as a form of shamanism and provided an evolutionary theory. Gimeno (2015) described a PK-gifted participant whose phenomena were affected by observers. These researchers shared assumptions derived from common empirical observations. Some people appeared more PK-conducive than others and special forms of socialization seemed to facilitate PK.

The present study tests hypotheses, derived from the psychical research literature, using SORRAT experimental records. John G. Neihardt, who founded SORRAT in 1961, assigned his graduate student, John Thomas Richards (Tom), the task of keeping experimental notes. The group reported anomalous rapping sounds, table movements, levitations, anomalous sensations, poltergeist phenomena, earthquake effects, and movement of objects in sealed containers. Following Neihardt's directives, Richards documented more than 850 SORRAT sessions over four decades. This data allowed testing four formal hypotheses and various exploratory hypotheses derived from two basic theories.

Theory

Psychical research theories regarding group PK share an experimental paradigm (Batcheldor, 1966, 1979, 1984; Lucadou, 1995, 2015, McClenon, 1997, 2002, 2012, 2013, 2018; Owen & Sparrow, 1976; Richards, 1982). Researchers found that table-tipping groups, following similar procedures, reported equivalent PK experiences. Patterns associated with success resulted in theory revision.

Batcheldor's (1966, 1979, 1984) artifact induction theory established the secular sitter-group paradigm. Batcheldor hypothesized that people do not wish to acknowledge their role in producing PK (ownership resistance) and, as a result, their fear prevents its incidence (witness inhibition). He proposed that participants who push the table through unconscious muscular movements tend to attribute these movements to PK. As they grow used to this unexplained result, their fear of PK declines, allowing authentic PK to occur. This strategy was labeled artifact induction.

When Batcheldor found that his group's PK declined and could not be fully verified, he sought advice from Lucadou, whose quantum theory explained psi's limitations. Lucadou suggested relaxing experimental scrutiny, dimming the lights, and reducing photographic documentation (Lucadou & Wald, 2014). Batcheldor found this advice useful and recommended these suggestions to others. BrookesSmith (1973) theorized that fraud, when undetected, stimulated belief, allowing authentic PK. Although he did not fully verify his group's PK as paranormal, his results supported the argument that fraud, an artifact, also facilitated PK experience.

Batcheldor's theory coincided with clinical observations. When phobic clients are exposed to small doses of fear-inducing stimuli, their fears tend to decline. Similarly, sitter-group participants exposed to artifacts/fraud reduce their fear of PK, allowing it to occur. Batcheldor (1994) later modified his theory to explain psi's limitations. He proposed that a universal creative principle, acting through the human mind, creates psi. Psi is defined as a rearrangement of normal reality, possible when ambiguous conditions allow pockets of indeterminacy. Sitter groups create these environments by achieving special forms of belief under circumstances that thwart full verification of the phenomena. …

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