Reported by Edgar Müller
Originally published in the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena Fall 2006 NewsJournal
Editor’s Note: A doctorate is required for full membership in the Parapsychological Association, a requirement which effectively isolates those who should be studying ITC from those who do study ITC. We are greatly encouraged by this report and the small changes toward more openness we have seen by the PA.
Approximately seventy highly qualified researchers were participating in the convention and nine of the fifty-one papers presented or items on the agenda were about the Survival Hypothesis. This is quite a substantial proportion of the total material, considering the fact that many parapsychologists, at least officially, refuse to accept the possibility of dualism; that is to say that there may be a brain and a mind, integrated in the daily functioning but nevertheless separate components of cognition and that the mind, which is not an identifiable physiological organ, may survive the death of the brain.
Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC), including voice, was dealt with on three occasions during the Convention, once in a negative way and twice quite positively. As far as I know, this is the first time in the long history of parapsychology that ITC was officially discussed at the Convention in this way and that the Survival Hypothesis received so much attention.
As we know, parapsychologists have tremendous problems to make their field of research acceptable within psychology and other disciplines in mainstream science. At the same time the issue of survival has a low status within parapsychology. It seems that most parapsychologists endeavor to avoid being connected with the topic, so that their already questionable reputation in mainstream science should not become even worse. At least until recently, most parapsychologists who are engaged in some kind of survival research have dismissed EVP as not being serious and suitable for scientific research.
One of the speakers, an impressive professor from a European country, presented a well prepared paper on the aspects of the survival hypothesis and commented briefly on all the known indications that survival may be possible, such as NDE, OBE, birthmarks on children claiming reincarnation, apparitions, mediums and at the end of the list there were the magical words ITC. However; he did not comment on ITC, and instead hesitated, shook his head and finally said, “Others may talk about it,” as if he did not want to be contaminated by this field.
Some of the papers on the Survival Hypothesis were very balanced. That is to say that the speakers presented all pros and cons in an open minded way, keeping the door open that there may be a survival. Admittedly it was underlined that we probably never can get scientifically acceptable evidence that there is an existence after the death of the body.
One delegate said that he definitely was not a survivalist and it would be difficult to convince him that some functions of cognition and personality could exist after the death of the brain; however, he said he had participated in an experiment about which he said, “Could you believe it, there were voices coming out from a radio….” So he gave a brief but correct description of the Bacci experiment that occurred in December, 2004. It was obvious that he had been shaken by this experience and was now more open to the survival hypothesis.
One important paper presented by a professor from the United States included a kind of summary of the topic and he opened his speech by telling a personal experience regarding EVP. He was in Mexico visiting some colleagues when a young girl was murdered. Apparently a friend of one of his colleagues was doing EVP research and succeeded in getting several utterances from the murdered girl. This professor listened to the tape and was quite impressed; he took a copy of the tape back to the United States and decided to present it at the Convention. Thus a session was played back for the whole convention via all the loudspeakers. The quality was very good.
I am glad to notice the change of my colleagues’ attitudes in the Board of the Swedish Association of Parapsychological Research. There are some who still think that all talk about ITC is rubbish but others have now stopped joking about me and ITC and take the topic more seriously. Thus my old mentor in this field, Dr. Nils-Olof Jacobson and myself, can now work in a friendlier and more understanding atmosphere for EVP in Sweden.
One of the papers and comments from several participants were very critical to psychic mediums. My personal experiences are unfortunately not encouraging either. I have several times tried to get some advice from mediums concerning how to proceed with ITC research to get better results, but without any reasonable answer.
Finally, an observation from the convention. As you know it is customary to give each speaker a polite applause when the paper is finished. Normally these applauses have duration of three to four seconds. After the first and admittedly the best paper on the Survival Hypothesis, there was applause like in a theatre; long and intensive. Of course it came spontaneously, maybe from the subconsciousness of the delegates