Saturday, July 26, 2008

Learning and Psi

Though not common, the paranormal has been studied and the more we include those findings in the everyday study of psychology the more comfortable we will all be with psi phenomena. As psychic researcher Rene Sudre said, the way to get acknowledgement for psychical research is, “to incorporate it with the rest of learning, not to show it as a separate world without any connection with the world of daily experiences.” One way to fit psi into our world is to see that psychics view the Psi-Unknown just as we all view those things we do not know about.
Another of the areas in psychology that can shed light on psi phenomena is the psychology of learning. Psi (pronounced sI) is the twenty third letter of the Greek alphabet Ψ ; and, like Psychic Phenomena is a is a catch-all word.

What we learn is controlled, in a way, by what we are comfortable learning. We each view what we do not know in our own way. Our view of the unknown effects our ability to deal with all manner of things we do not know. Our knowledge has grown or it hasn’t, because of personal ideas about the unknown. The specific things we learn are the result of some detail in our concept of the unknown world. When a new subject is presented we may think, “Oh I could never learn that.” Or we could think, “Oh that would be easy to do.” We each have made an image of what we can learn and what we can not. You have decided what you think you can learn and what you can not. The Psi-unknown, that great mass of total knowledge that psychics can tune into, is seen by psychics just as each of us sees our own ideas of what we can know. The psychic will say, “I see dead people.” Or “I just knew who would win that ball game.

The efforts made by educators to learn how students hold on to some new fact or why another one will slip away will also help us understand how psychics get the information into their conscious minds or don’t. This means that when we want to discover how people gain knowledge about psi we should start by looking at how they get their ideas about anything they don’t know.
One way of understanding this process of seeing or not seeing a fact is to realize that there is some filtering process at work. Our preconceptions about the unknown act as filters or barriers. If we are not optimistic about mastering something or using an ability, then we won’t learn that subject well. In the same, way if we are not optimistic about getting an extra-sensory-perception we won’t.

Even the effort to get something in to consciousness is dependant on what we have learned; what our world is like. We see not only what we want to look at but also what we have been educated to look for. Also our concept of the world is then shaped by what we have learned in the past. One interesting test was done by Doctors J. S. Bruner and Leo Postman. They asked people to identify playing cards, and, gave only a fraction of a second to do it. The time was adequate for the regular cards, but then the doctors slipped in a “ringer.” There were some cards that were not normal--a red six of spades, and a black four of hearts. The people needed longer and longer times to "see” what the card really was, ten times longer. Some never did “see” it right. They lost all ability to trust their preconceptions about cards first. One subject in desperation admitted, “I’m not even sure what a spade looks like. My God!”

These beliefs are like the foundation of a building, if they are not sound, then the whole structure is not sound. Both the size and the quality of the edifice are based on the foundation. Likewise both the size and the quality of a parson's ability to deal with unknown objectss are based on her belief about the unknown’s place in the world.

Much has been written about this activity of forming beliefs and linking new impressions to them. The connectionist position holds that learning consists essentially in the attaching or connecting of a response to a stimulus S (R - S) which did not originally call forth that response.
Opposed to this connectionist philosophy of learning are those who try to accent the Gestalt, or whole thing. They want to see the entire “lay of the land” first, so that they do not build too small a foundation. In many cases we need to see the general outlines in the beginning, the whole Gestalt. So we come back to that problem, how do we fit psychic impressions into our world? And if our whole world does not have a place for the experiences of psychics what do we do with those how keep having those experiences?

Like a soldier who is dropped down in a battle field, or a disaster victim wandering around the place that was once their home. If we are introduced to a new world too violently different from what we have known. We can not absorb it; we go into shock.

Some people have been able to sense psychically because they have made a place for psychic experiences in their world. Their overall world view includes the Psi-unknown and their world includes psi experiences on which to build. Just as a grade school student learns to count then they can learn to add and subtract; because their world now includes numbers.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sensational Psychic Abilities

In order to understand the psychic person’s success or failure in sensing the psychic world of information or the psi-unknown we only have to explore a person’s success or failures at sensing this world. The similarities between sensing this world and the next have been observed by scientific researchers from the beginning of serious study of psychical research.

As Dr. Gardner Murphy said in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research in 1943, “In normal perception you will perceive most easily the beginning and the end of a series of items presented; and so it is with extrasensory processes when the items in a closed box must be perceived. In normal perception you will see most clearly the objects which stand out in contrast with the matter to which you have become habituated; and so it is with extrasensory perception. In normal perception you will see best when free from disturbance and distraction; and this holds likewise for the paranormal.” So many observed patterns of extrasensory perception show it to be similar to the other senses.

Dr. Murphy pointed out three principles of perception which are of interest: (1) The principle of figure and ground, that is one part of the area sensed will be regarded as figure or subject, and the rest will be the “ground,” not the subject. What is subject and what is ground depends on past experiences and present needs;” A psychic could sense all the things in the great unknown but will see something as the subject and the rest as just background. That subject will be selected based on what has been a rewarding subject in the past and will reflect the psychic’s current needs.

The second rule that Dr. Murphy pointed out was, “ the principle of ‘mental set,’ the present outlook the subject has or his general feeling toward that thing or person sensed. This mental set will have a great deal to do with the way a subject is perceived. Of course the physical state will affect the mental state of mind or mood. Food looks batter to a hungry man, etc.” And the psychically sensitive person will find that they get the good news from a phone call they “happened” to stay home and receive; or they avoided a traffic jam when they luckily took the scenic way home.

And finally just as “… ambiguous pictures were interpreted in terms of food objects with increasing frequency as his subjects went longer and longer with out food… We may then say that perception moves in the direction of need satisfaction, tension reduction,” Dr Murphy reminds us. So too lost explorer may find his way back and the sixth sense of a mother snatches her baby from danger at the last moment.

We must also remember that psychic abilities are not always going to serve societies morality or even what we may think are an individual’s best interest. They may assist a person as they do something that society thinks is wrong. If a person has given up on life, for some personal reason, they may psychically arrange to be in that accident or if they have built a life around carefully following mechanical procedures they may use their psychic ability to loose at the gaming tables. In some people’s world things go better if they avoid psi.

Our psychology effects what we sense when we see, hear, taste, smell and feel the physical world. We may not always realize it. We probably must have our attention called to the effect our minds are having on us as we process the data that comes to us. Whereas we can not help but see how very important the psychology of the psychic is on their occasional efforts at telepathy, precognition or clairvoyance.

So then, you may ask, why is it that we are frightened of ghosts? Well Freud had that answer a long time ago. There are two types of fear, conditioned and neurotic. A mother conditions he child to be afraid of fire with a slap or a loud shout when the child approaches that source of potential danger. Neurotic fears reflect hidden desires. Desires we do not want to admit we have. So they surface as fears. In the case of a ghost you may want to see some dead friend or relative but do not want to admit it. So this confect, this denied desire, shows up as a fear. This brings up again how important our psychology is to our psychic ability. Other people in the room may not sense the ghost at all, some may only hear it. While others may feel a cold breeze or a hand on their shoulder. What is figure? What is ground? What do you expect to feel, hear or see? What do you need to sense?

We also must consider that all of our senses have limits, boundaries. Psychologists call these thresholds. So all perceptions are somewhat filtered. Psychological filters are different from one person to another. But there are also physical limits to what we can perceive. Each type of sensation is bracketed.

These thresholds can change. Changing of thresholds are affected by our mental set. So it is when we are excited. Our ability to resist pain is increased. The human animal is more sensitive to the lesser sensations when relaxed. So, too, the psychic usually does better in a quite dark relaxing place. The athlete finds she is able to resist pain during an athletic match. The ability to take it from the psi-sensation is also a part of getting excited for many people.

You can not hear too soft a sound, nor can you hear too load a sound it would break your eardrum. You can not see when the light is too dim, nor when it is too bright -- it will blind you. If something touches you too softly it will not he noticed, nor will too severe a pain be felt, the area will be numbed. Each type of perception is bracketed by an upper and a lower threshold. Of course in the physical world the sensations thresholds we experiment most with are the lower thresholds. We find how little light a person needs to see rather than how much will blind them. It is naturally very difficult to find volunteers to be blinded. Are we not sensing psychic impressions because they are too load or too soft? Perhaps at a very early age we were blinded or deafened by the psychic world? In order to build a meaningful world we may have blocked out some psychic sensation.

Another thing we can learn from normal perception and its workings, is that these thresholds change. They adapt. We easily adapt to odors and grow insensitive to the familiar tough of cloths. A smell must have a different quality before it can be sensed. The same maybe true of psi. Like the news alert that triggers an email in your inbox. It means there is some disturbance that will interest you out there in the great Internet unknown. So a psychic sensation may be a notice of a change in the psi world that should interest you.

Murphy, G. 1943. Psychical Phenomena and human needs. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 37:163-191.
Murphy, G. 1952. The natural, the mystical, and the paranormal. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 46:125-142.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Psychics and the Unknown

If we venture to study the paranormal we soon must face the ultimate Psi-Unknown. We soon are asking where are these sensations coming from? What must that place be like?
Psychics may be compared to sighted people in a world of the blind. Think about that for a moment. A world where it was normal to be blind and it would be paranormal just to see.
The blind majority, would try to study these gifted ones. Now imagine the type of report that those investigators would send in. Their first problem would be to find words to describe, “seeing” to the rest of the blind world who had no such experience.

So the investigators of this ability would, as a test, take one of those who had the ability to perceive this “strange” way, into an office. The gifted person would say, “There is a shelf full of books on the other side of the room.” And the investigator, unable to know the shelf was there without walking over and feeling it, would investigate. He would walk over and find the books.
He would say, “Why you’re right.” After further investigation he would find that the person who put the books there was dead. The room had been locked away. No one alive knew about these books so the investigator would say, “This extra sensory perception allowed the special person to know what a man had done who is now dead.” The investigator would think that sightedness gave the power to learn from the dead. The sighted person would appear to be a communicating with the dead. So the ability that passes in this blind world for mediumship would really just be sight.

Then another investigator would take a different individual with “ESP” into the same office and this one would say, “You had better not continue on the same path you are in. You will bump into a. desk if you do.”

The blind investigators would proceed because he doesn't want to spoil the experiment. So he goes along the same route and bumps into the desk. He concluded, “Well you must have the ability to tell the future.” He might read the report of the other investigators who found a mediumship ability but not make any connection. He may not see that they are the same.
Then still another blind investigator might start to study these persons who could see. He would take another person. With this ability into the same office but he would chose to sit down and start taking notes on a brail typewriter. The sighted person could look over the shoulder of the blind investigator and see that he was typing about the subject’s perfume being too strong. The subject could then say, “Oh, so you think my perfume is too strong do you?”

How would that scientists report read? You guessed it. “It appears that there are some people who are gifted with the ability to read people’s minds.”

Also we could expect that a sighted person in this blind world may chose to close their eyes for most of the time just to fit in to the society. So, the sighted ones themselves would read all these reports with interest, because they too don’t know what they are doing. They might agree with all three studies, and their interpretations.

Investigators in such a blind world would think they were finding separate abilities in each of these three, when actually it was the same ability. What the sighted individual talked about was not what was outside of him, but what was inside. He told of the things in the place that interested him. One was into what people left here during their lives, the other like to project current events into their logical future, and the last was nosy.

Psychic power seems to be just that way. Psychics have abilities to know and do what interests them with their special ability. This is most likely all that separates them from each other. We could further suggest that what separates them from the rest of the people in this world is that they chose to open their eyes.

I assume that the differences between psychics are just that each psychic is an individual. Each has formed associations to the Psi-Unknown. It is that set of patterns that color individual concepts of psi and filter the Psi-Unknown also. The same research that helps educators understand why some students like math, others like art, and still others like languages will help us understand why some psychics are good at mediumship, others at precognition and finally still others at telepathy.

So it seems to me that the Psi-Unknown has one nature. We should see that the Psi-Unknown in particular has its shape, size, and power. Since there are many people looking at it and each observing a different things, it must be large. Perhaps it is larger than the total of all viewpoints as some say­. But on the other hand suppose that it is smaller and that many people are over-estimating its size and strength. It seems most logical to assume there is no more of the psychic world than of the physical world multiplied by the time we have been here. It seems even to be a function of the physical world rather than independent. It has law's and those are only special cases of our present rules, and if it is a part of this world its rules will someday be ours. Our old concepts will change.

The Psi-Unknown has been called by many names. Perhaps some of' them should be reviewed here. The Buddhists call this thing the Karmic records and say that all things that have ever been are known, or ever will be known are recorded there. They think of the Karmic Records as large old books, that are being read up the sky some place.

Western psychical researchers have also talked about the knowledge side of the Psi-Unknown. Some have called it the World Mind. The World Mind would be physically closer; in fact it would be a part of us. We would, according to this concept, be interconnected. Here the future is not a part of the present. This would cut its size down considerably. There seems no reason for objecting to that part of the World Mind. All precognitive events, that is knowing of the future, could be the result of knowing all of the present and then just projecting the logical course of current activity. But the term “Mind” doesn't allow for the power that this psychic thing has. A better term would be World Matrix, which would mean the interconnectivity substance. A thing that connected not just thought but things and powers also. A matrix is the raw material from which many things can be made. It is the object that holds an impression from one thing and passes it on to something else. It stores and plays back various things. It could store and give back some kind of power.

We can be sure that the Psi-Unknown can be described if not quantified.
1. It records the sum total of all things that have happened and are happening.­
2. The matrix is also a conductor of bits of information, and the medium that carries thoughts from one mind to another, and from one thing to a mind.

3. Its ability to group and organize information must be very basic if it exists at all
4. It has some power. This power seems to be directed toward one group of activities in the wild animal. Those are the reproductive functions. This power can be used for other things though. The matrix may allow one thing to use the energy of others.

One of the primary laws of science is the Law of Parsimony: be frugal. Don’t spend more time and effort in forming a theory than is necessary. The scientist is to select from several theories the one that explains most and is the least complicated. For me, this description of the Psi-Unknown works.

Whenever we are in contact with the Psi-Unknown, we will not see it all or even most of it. We only notice and a remember relatively small part of that total mass of knowledge and experience. What we see in the Psi-Unknown is like what we choose to see in this world. We see what we have learned about. We see what we want to see. We see what reduces tension for us.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Reading textbooks in school gives an impression of the way science built itself up. They make it seem as if there were first one neat-clean block, then a second one put beside it, and a third on top of those, and so on. This is not what happened. The writers of textbooks are trying to sell Science. Science really was not that well organized Like a real-estate salesmen who tries to tell you that the house was built as you see it now, or at least that it now is at its ideal state. The window should be there, the door here, etc. Of course, this isn't usually so in old homes. No, there was a shack here once upon a time, and then a wood floor was put in. After it rotted there was a stone floor. When one wall got weak it was knocked out and a new one constructed of stone. And so it went. As something became useless it was torn off and a new part of the house was added. If a window was needed a. hole made in the wall.

Like the dynamic structure it is science is again in need of expansion More and more information appears in print which shows that ideas about many things must be renovated.

One such area is the field of mind body. Those who have studied parapsychology have pointed out problems there. There is one practical problem. As the owner of the home would say, “Don’t you dare tear down that wall until you know all the details about what is going to be put there. I want a blueprint, the labor to be available, and the materials paid for first."

He has a point. Parapsychology may really need a new room but nobody is quite certain what should be put up how, or even for sure that it can be done. So, the scientific community that lives in the house will wait before building they allow new rooms, but parapsychologists are out in the cold. The ghost-hunters can only come to visit inside when the troublesome uncle is out. Where can we find a room for them?

Most would be satisfied if only a hole were knocked in the wall and a tent put up outside. Of course, a wooden floor should be in the tent before winter, but that is many months away.
It would be nice if we had some blueprints, labor and materials to build a regular room, but there isn't. No one is even sure where the door should be. But there is enough material to make a tent, if only a sewing machine could be borrowed. This blog will discuss some of the necessary substance, and needs we will have to provide when parapsychology is invited in to the scientific homestead.

The subject of this study, psychics will be easy to please For instance, psychics feel comfortable in the middle of this change. The psychic likes to be close to the Unknown. In fact they probably have been too patient. We can learn from him. After his nature is discovered, and the influences on him are seen it will be possible to deal with lesser unknowns The knowledge of his nature may help us cope with a new problem, a new friend, a new town, and a new machine. What can the non-psychic learn from him? In a larger since: is there a non-psychic or just people who have chosen to not look there, not listen?

There was a time when it was difficult to tell astronomy from astrology, but as the centuries passed these became two distinct studies. Both have continued to this day, but are two studies now instead of one.

In days past it was difficult to tell alchemy from chemistry, but now they are separate subjects.
This is a similar period of change. Today it is hard to differentiate between parapsychology and occultism. But for the previous century, and probably long into this one, the two have been growing apart, and will undoubtedly continue. Here we will not be concerned with occultism. It is about parapsychology, and especially the psychology of psychics, that we'll study.

The Freud has provided a useful vocabulary and many studies have been done that help us understand the personality of the psychic. Here we will try to be objective and avoid, if possible, the emotional overtones that the vocabulary offered by Mysticism.

We will not be exploring the physics of psychic events nor trying to prove that every type of psychic event is true, though I do lean in that direction, feel free to call me to task if you think I have fallen too far.

When the events I describe in my book Operation Blue Light: My Secret Life among Psychic Spies were over I spent years studying the papers from the Society for Psychical Research in England, the American Society for Psychical Research, the Journal of Parapsychology, and the books reviewed in these Journals. I want to share some of these research findings and hear from you on these.

These should be helpful if you want to understand how to handle the Unknown in general, and also the world of the paranormal. It is for the many who want to deal with psychics, and for psychics who need to understand themselves better. The topics have been chosen from scientific discussions and should offer perspectives that will be useful. I hope my discussions will help psychics and non-psychics to communicate and share this fragile world together with minimal ranting and raving.