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- Haunted thoughts of the careful experimentalist: Psychical research and the troubles of experimental physics. [Journal Article]
- Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci 2014 Dec.:46-56.
This paper analyses the relationship between the 'elusive' science of psychical research and experimental physics in the period approximately, 1870-1930. Most studies of the relationship between psychical research and the established sciences have examined the ways in which psychical researchers used theories in the established sciences to give greater plausibility to their interpretations of such puzzling phenomena as telepathy, telekinesis and ectoplasm. A smaller literature has examined the use of laboratory instruments to produce scientific evidence for these phenomena. This paper argues that the cultures of experiment in the established science of physics could matter to psychical research in a different way: it suggests that experience of capricious effects, recalcitrant instruments and other problems of the physical laboratory made British physicists especially sympathetic towards the difficulties of the spiritualistic séance and other sites of psychical enquiry. In the wake of widely-reported claims that the mediums they had investigated had been exposed as frauds, these scientific practitioners were eventually persuaded by the merits of an older argument that human psychic subjects could not be treated like laboratory hardware. However, well into the twentieth century, they maintained that experimental physics had important lessons for psychical researchers.
- Policing epistemic deviance: Albert Von Schrenck-Notzing and Albert Moll(1). [Biography, Historical Article, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't]
- Med Hist 2012 Apr; 56(2):255-76.
Shortly after the death of Albert von Schrenck-Notzing (1862-1929), the doyen of early twentieth century German para psychology, his former colleague in hypnotism and sexology Albert Moll (1862-1939) published a treatise on the psychology and pathology of parapsychologists, with Schrenck-Notzing serving as a prototype of a scientist suffering from an 'occult complex'. Moll's analysis concluded that parapsychologists vouching for the reality of supernormal phenomena, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis and materialisations, suffered from a morbid will to believe, which paralysed their critical faculties and made them cover obvious mediumistic fraud. Using Moll's treatment of Schrenck-Notzing as an historical case study of boundary disputes in science and medicine, this essay traces the career of Schrenck-Notzing as a researcher in hypnotism, sexology and parapsychology; discusses the relationship between Moll and Schrenck-Notzing; and problematises the pathologisation and defamation strategies of deviant epistemologies by authors such as Moll.
- Multifunctional Merkel cells: their roles in electromagnetic reception, finger-print formation, Reiki, epigenetic inheritance and hair form. [Journal Article, Review]
- Med Hypotheses 2010 Aug; 75(2):162-8.
Merkel cells are located in glabrous and hairy skin and in some mucosa. They are characterized by dense-core secretory granules and cytoskeletal filaments. They are attached to neighboring keratinocytes by desmosomes and contain melanosomes similar to keratinocytes. They are excitable cells in close contact with sensory nerve endings but their function is still unclear. In this review, following roles are attributed for the first time to the Merkel cells: (1) melanosomes in Merkel cells may be involved in mammalian magnetoreception. In this model melanosome as a biological magnetite is connected by cytoskeletal filaments to mechanically gated ion channels embedded in the Merkel cell membrane. The movement of melanosome with the changing electromagnetic field may open ion channels directly producing a receptor potential that can be transmitted to brain via sensory neurons. (2) Merkel cells may be involved in finger-print formation: Merkel cells in glabrous skin are located at the base of the epidermal ridges the type of which defines the finger-print pattern. Finger-print formation starts at the 10th week of pregnancy after the arrival of Merkel cells. Keratinocyte proliferation and the buckling process observed in the basal layer of epidermis resulting in the epidermal ridges may be controlled and formed by Merkel cells. (3) Brain-Merkel cell connection is bi-directional and Merkel cells not only absorb but also radiate the electromagnetic frequencies. Hence, efferent aspects of the palmar and plantar Merkel nerve endings may form the basis of the biofield modalities such as Reiki, therapeutic touch and telekinesis. (4) Adaptive geographic variations such as skin color, craniofacial morphology and hair form result from interactions between environmental factors and epigenetic inheritance system. While environmental factors produce modifications in the body, they simultaneously induce epigenetic modifications in the oocytes and in this way adaptive changes could be passed onto the next generations. Merkel cells are multisensorial cells that can receive almost all environmental stimuli including electromagnetic and ultraviolet radiations, temperature, humidity and food type and they seem to transfer the environmental information to oocytes by affecting nuclear receptors in oocytes. (5) Hair form is categorized as straight, wavy and spiral. Merkel cells found at the bulge region of hair follicles may determine the hair form with their different paracrine secretions related to hair cycle producing variations between populations. In conclusion, Merkel cells are multifunctional cells which may close the gap between orthodox medicine and complementary medicine such as acupuncture and Reiki.
- In the laboratory of the Ghost-Baron: parapsychology in Germany in the early 20th century. [Biography, Historical Article, Journal Article, Portraits]
- Endeavour 2009 Dec; 33(4):152-7.
During the early twentieth century the Munich-based psychiatrist Albert von Schrenck-Notzing constructed a parapsychological laboratory in his Karolinenplatz home. Furnished with a range of apparatus derived from the physical and behavioural sciences, the Baron's intention was to mimic both the outward form and disciplinary trajectory of contemporary experimental psychology, thereby legitimating the nascent field of parapsychology. Experimentation with mediums, those labile subjects who produced ectoplasm, materialisation and telekinesis, however, necessitated not only the inclusion of a range of spiritualist props, but the lackadaisical application of those checks and controls intended to prevent simulation and fraud. Thus Schrenck-Notzing's parapsychological laboratory with its stereoscopic cameras, galvanometers and medium cabinets was a strange coalescence of both the séance room and the lab, a hybrid space that was symbolic of the irresolvable epistemological and methodological problems at the heart of this aspiring science.
- From telepathy to telekinesis. [Journal Article]
- Med Health R I 2008 Oct; 91(10):327.
- From ether theory to ether theology: Oliver Lodge and the physics of immortality. [Biography, Historical Article, Journal Article]
- J Hist Behav Sci 2007; 43(1):18-43.
This article follows the development of physicist Oliver Lodge's religio-scientific worldview, beginning with his reticent attraction to metaphysics in the early 1880s to the full formulation of his "ether theology" in the late 1890s. Lodge undertook the study of psychical phenomena such as telepathy, telekinesis, and "ectoplasm" to further his scientific investigations of the ether, speculating that electrical and psychical manifestations were linked phenomena that described the deeper underlying structures of the universe, beneath and beyond matter. For Lodge, to fully understand the ether was to force from the universe an ultimate Revelation, and psychical research, as the most modern and probatory science, was poised to replace religion as the means of that disclosure.
- "Spooky actions at a distance": physics, psi, and distant healing. [Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't, Review]
- J Altern Complement Med 2005 Oct; 11(5):923-30.
Over decades, consciousness research has accumulated evidence of the real and measureable existence of "spooky actions at a distance"--modes of telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance, and the like. More recently scientists have begun rigorous study of the effects of distant healing intention and prayer vis-a-vis nonhuman living systems and patients in clinical trials. A barrier to taking such work seriously may be the belief that it is fundamentally incompatible with the scientific world view. This article suggests that it need not be; contemporary physics has generated a series of paradigms that can be used to make sense of, interpret, and explore "psi" and distant healing. Four such models are discussed, two drawn from relativity theory and two from quantum mechanics. First is the energetic transmission model, presuming the effects of conscious intention to be mediated by an as-yet unknown energy signal. Second is the model of path facilitation. As gravity, according to general relativity, "warps" space-time, easing certain pathways of movement, so may acts of consciousness have warping and facilitating effects on the fabric of the surrounding world. Third is the model of nonlocal entanglement drawn from quantum mechanics. Perhaps people, like particles, can become entangled so they behave as one system with instantaneous and unmediated correlations across a distance. Last discussed is a model involving actualization of potentials. The act of measurement in quantum mechanics collapses a probabilistic wave function into a single outcome. Perhaps conscious healing intention can act similarly, helping to actualize one of a series of possibilities; for example, recovery from a potentially lethal tumor. Such physics-based models are not presented as explanatory but rather as suggestive. Disjunctions as well as compatibilities between the phenomena of modern physics and those of psi and distant healing are explored.
- K: a presumed case of telekinesis. [Case Reports, Journal Article]
- Int J Psychosom 1985; 32(1):3-21.
- Clinical observations on telekinesis. Part IV. [Case Reports, Journal Article]
- J Am Soc Psychosom Dent Med 1980; 27(4):110-23.
- Clinical observations on telekinesis. Part III. [Case Reports, Journal Article]
- J Am Soc Psychosom Dent Med 1980; 27(3):87-96.