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Published: Jun.9.2011

Photonic Measurement of Apparent Presence of Spirit using a Computer Automated System

Gary E. Schwartz

Research investigating the potential of detecting the purported presence of spirit (POS) has been hampered by the necessity of employing a human being to collect the data. To infer the presence of alleged spirit, it is essential to remove the simultaneous presence of an experimenter (POE), thereby eliminating his or her physical energy as well as accompanying conscious intentions and expectations. Objective: The purpose of these two proof-of-concept experiments was to explore the feasibility of completely automating data collection in the absence of an experimenter to determine if evidence consistent with POS was still obtained. Design: A computer automated system was developed making it possible to collect all data in the absence of an experimenter (thereby achieving complete experimenter blinding). In the evenings, the computer would (1) start the experimental run at random times, (2) conduct 30 minute baseline as well as POS trials involving two different alleged spirits, and (3) record background light in a completely dark chamber with a highly sensitive low light Princeton Instruments CCD camera system. Setting: The CCD camera and light-tight recording chamber were housed in a light-tight room; the computer, large screen monitor and speakers were housed in a separate control room Participants: The participants were two purported spirits involved in previous POS research using a silicon photomultiplier system (Schwartz, 2010). Intervention: The primary intervention was the computer selecting and presenting visual and auditory information inviting Spirit 1 or Spirit 2 to enter the chamber in the absence of experimenter presence and awareness. Main Outcome Measurements: The CCD camera provided 512 by 512 pixel images of 30 minute exposures (reflecting a combination of possible background light plus instrument dark noise). The images were imported into image processing software and two dimensional FFT analyses were performed. Average brightness levels of the FFTs were calculated and subjected to repeated measures analyses of variance. Results: Compared to pre and post baseline images, the POS trials were associated with reliable increases in the average brightness of the FFT images, suggesting increased structure of the background light as revealed in the FFT’s. Conclusion: These findings indicate that POE per se is not sufficient to explain the observed POS effects. Future experiments can address the remaining potential psi interpretations (decision augmentation theory [DAT] and retro PK) as well as the source of the observed information (i.e. visible spectrum photons, cosmic rays, and / or the CCD chip itself).

Bio: Gary E. Schwartz is Professor of Psychology, Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Surgery, and Director of the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health, at the University of Arizona. He received his PhD in psychology from Harvard University in 1971 and served its faculty until 1976. He was Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Yale University and Director of the Yale Psychophysiology Center from 1976 to 1988. His most recent books are The Energy Healing Experiments and The Sacred Promise.