Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Investigating Methodological Issues in Eda-Dmils: Results from a Pilot Study

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Investigating Methodological Issues in Eda-Dmils: Results from a Pilot Study

Article excerpt

HARALD WALACH [1]

ABSTRACT: This article addresses methodological issues in current EDA-DMILS research. The authors conducted an exploratory DMILS pilot study with 26 sessions and found a medium size effect. No significant psi finding is claimed, as the experiment was not designed to find or investigate any; instead, the authors studied the variation of this effect as a function of different methodological approaches. They compared different EDA parameters (tonic or phasic) and found effects similar in size. Furthermore, they contrasted the traditional parapsychological way to parameterize data with methods adapted from psychophysiological research. These new parameters clearly outperformed the parameter used so far in DMILS/Remote Staring research. Respiration is correlated with the electrodermal system. The authors investigated whether EDA responses that are caused by sudden irregular patterns in breathing are also part of the remote intention effect. Therefore, they discarded all these responses from the data. The effect si ze dropped down to 30%-77% (depending on the parameter) of its original value. This indicates that the remote intention effect is very likely to also affect the pulmonary system. Finally, they compared different statistical methods for the evaluation of EDA-DMILS data and show the traditional percentage influence score method is neither appropriate nor suitable. The authors present alternative methods, and compare their power using the pilot study data.

Direct mental interaction between living systems (DMILS) is a standard experimental procedure for the investigation of the possibility that one system or person intentionally influences another system's or person's physiology from a distance. The majority of the DMILS studies include electrodermal activity (EDA) as the dependent variable; they are referred to as EDA-DMILS experiments. At least 30 EDA-DMILS experiments were conducted through 1997 (see Schlitz & Braud, 1997, for an overview). This figure also includes experiments on Remote Staring, a similar experimental paradigm that investigates whether a person's physiology can "detect" a distant gaze. Schlitz and Braud's (1997) overview of the results of all EDA--DMILS studies and all Remote Staring studies shows that 14 out of 30 experiments have yielded significant results. The studies show nonhomogeneous effect sizes, with a mean of .25 (Rosenthal's r) for both research paradigms.

Because EDA is the only dependent variable in most of the studies described by Schlitz & Braud (1997), the recording, processing, parameterization, and evaluation of the EDA data is the crucial point in interpreting them. Therefore, Schmidt and Walach (2000) evaluated the EDA methodology of all published EDA-DMILS and Remote Staring studies and compared them with a sample of studies published in leading psychophysiological journals. The results of this evaluation indicated that the EDA methodology applied by parapsychologists did not compare to state-of-the-art EDA measurement recommended by psychophysiologists (Boucsein, 1992; Venables & Christie, 1980). None of the studies complied with the "Publication Recommendations for Electrodermal Measurements" issued by leading psychophysiologists in 1981 (Fowles et al., 1981), and most of them even violated common psychophysiological knowledge.

Therefore, we rearranged our EDA methodology in the DMILS facility in Freiburg, Germany, in collaboration with the Department of Psychological Physiology of the University of Wuppertal, Germany. When we modified procedures according to psychophysiological standards, new questions about the DMILS paradigm arose, namely, the following.

1. Which component should be investigated within the DMILS paradigm considering EDA itself is not a unitary phenomenon and consists of two components? For one of the components (the fast-changing phasic component) there are also different parameterization possibilities. …

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