83. News

Dr. Chris French Open-Minded, But Skeptical of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake

[edit here:Scientifically controlled demonstration of out-of-body travel yields surprising results and aids grief stricken mother]http://www.open2.net/open2static/source/file/root/0/53/38/219560/Dr_Chris_French.jpg

Del Mar, CA, June 3, 2009 – For those suffering the loss of loved one grief can be a constant companion.  Michelle suffered such a loss when her 20-year-old daughter took her own life in 2004.  Earlier this year Michelle spotted an advertisement seeking volunteers for a scientific experiment testing psychic mediums.   She joined with hopes of receiving some confirmation of her daughter’s existence beyond death.  She got a whole lot more.

Join host Alex Tsakiris  as he reports the findings of this four-month investigation into afterlife communication and the role of out-of-body experience in alleviating grief.  The 50-minute audio program includes interviews with out-of-body (OBE) experiencer,  Marilynn Hughes and a grieving parent transformed by the process.  The interview can be heard at: https://skeptiko.com/75-marilynn-hughes-obe-experiment/

During the interview Hughes describes how the tightly controlled experiment was different than usual:

Marilynn Hughes: “One of the interesting things about doing an experiment like this is that most of the time when this sort of thing is happening I know a little bit about the family.  This was actually very interesting for me to do because I didn’t know anything up-front, and there was the no feedback rule.  It was kind of running blind and just hoping that you’re seeing things correctly and translating them correctly. It’s really exciting to hear that so many of the things were right. And that it was helpful.”

Even Skepitko.com host, Alex Tsakiris was surprised by the results, and by Hughes:

Alex Tsakiris: “We’ve worked with some pretty amazing psychic mediums as part of this experiment, but it’s hard to get them to commit to a public demonstration like this… Marilynn was fearless… of course, none of it matters unless you get results and in this case we not only received a lot of information suggesting Hughes was able to connect with the deceased, but the transformative aspect of this whole process for Michelle was amazing.”

A complete transcript of the interview is available at: https://skeptiko.com/75-marilynn-hughes-obe-experiment/

Marilynn Hughes has experienced, researched, written and taught about Out-of-Body Travel and Mysticism since 1987. Odysseys of Light: Adventures in Out-of-Body Travel and Crystal River Flowing: Adventures in Co-Creation were published by Hampton Roads Publishing in 1991 and 1993. She has written numerous out-of-body experience books since then. She has also appeared on innumerable radio and television programs including: Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, The Joan Rivers Show and BBS International Radio.

About Skeptiko

Skeptiko.com is the first scientifically oriented Podcast exploring new research in controversial areas of science such as telepathy, psi, parapsychology, near-death-experience, psychic detectives, medium communication, reincarnation, and after-life encounters. Each episode features open, honest debate on new scientific discoveries. The show includes interviews with top research scientists and their critics.

About OpenSourceScience
OpenSourceScience is the first scientifically oriented website to bring the power of open source methods to the skeptical examination of controversial areas of science such as telepathy, psi, parapsychology, near-death experiences, reincarnation, and after-life encounters.

Alex Tsakiris: (858) 225-7554
Email: news@skeptiko.com


— this first quote is ok for the press release.  You’ll have to write the copy to fit and have some kind of tie-in to Rupert Sheldrake since his name is in the title.

I imagine in lots of ways parapsychologists are sometimes ahead of the game. I mean, again, I’ve actually argued this in print at least here. I, for a long time, as I said, when I first became a skeptic, I was kind of an early extreme skeptic and had an overly negative view of parapsychology. And I used to go along with the argument that parapsychology was a pseudo-science. I don’t anymore.

— the rest of these quotes might work for the ezine article.  you can edit my words freely, but be gentle with the quotes from the guests… changes to clarify are fine, but go lightly 🙂

Alex Tsakiris: Well, indeed on both counts, and you know, maybe you will find that in your work, your collaboration with Professor Rupert Sheldrake and maybe you want to bring folks a little bit up to date on the basics of what’s going on and maybe what is happening currently with that work on telephone telepathy.

Dr. Chris French: Well, we’ve done – I’ve known Rupert for a long time and I get on very well with him on a personal level and again, I think Rupert is a case in point in regards to what we were just talking about of the bad meaning of the word double standards in the wider scientific community. I think a lot of the time the criticisms that are directed at Rupert are just not well-founded at all. And I think although I personally have never had any success in replicating the effects that Rupert has designed, not only that, my project students who are not as skeptical as I am, and in fact are usually big fans of Rupert’s, they’ve also failed to replicate the effects that Rupert got.


Alex Tsakiris: …but in the end, I think we did find a couple of folks who showed exactly the phenomena that we were talking about, and it was a matter of kind of staying with it and going through a lot of different experiments with a lot of different dogs and trying a lot of different dog owner combinations, so I don’t know. I just – I think it would be interesting to see what you come up with. It would be interesting to see Sheldrake’s response to that and to see that work go on, because I think it’s – the collaboration part is often very difficult and it just doesn’t seem to ever really happen in a way that incorporates in both sides kind of views and I think that’s where some of the problems have been in the past.

Dr. Chris French: I think there’s some truth in that. I mean, there’s also, again, and I’m not directing this specifically at Rupert. I think there’s a bit of a problem there in terms the way the outcomes of the experiments can be then interpreted. So for example, in cases of previous attempts at replicating the telephone telepathy stuff, if the results do replicate then Rupert’s obviously quite happy to accept them. If they don’t replicate you can usually point to some kind of changing protocol that might be responsible. Now, it makes perfect sense to me that Rupert, who sincerely believes that these are real effects, is going to look at this and say well, okay, I know I’ve got a real anomaly here so why didn’t it show up in this experiment?

Well, it must be because of this changing protocol. So I’m also pretty sure that had the experiment produced positive significant results, Rupert would have quite happily accepted that as a replication. It’s a kind of heads I win, tails you lose.

Alex Tsakiris: Do you think you’d be subject to the same kind of bias in terms of…

Dr. Chris French: I think I probably would. I think that’s exactly it…

Alex Tsakiris: I don’t think you would!

Dr. Chris French: …because we…

Alex Tsakiris: Come on, Dr. French, I think you would – you would be…

Dr. Chris French: We’ve all got biases, Alex. We’ve got to recognize that. As you were saying before, the reason that scientific method is the best way forward – it’s not perfect by any means – but it’s the best way forward because it’s the only method to actually recognize that we have biases and tries to take them into account. And the degree to which we’re invested in doing that can vary enormously. But I mean, what we’re all trying to go for is very tiny controlled studies. And again, parapsychologists have to really – I mean, they really are in a position where because they know they will get such critical scrutiny from the skeptical community, they really have to bend over backwards to show that everything’s double blind, that there’s no possible sensory leakage, etc., etc., etc.