Mediumship — triple blind study

CaseyCase

New Member
I recently got pulled into a debate with an academic about mediumship. She is a big believer having lost her mother recently.

As someone who grew up a mentalism nerd, I felt I may be able to pull her out of the rabbit hole. She sent a triple blind study by Gary Schwartz. I remember his battles with Randi. Here is the study:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S155083070600454X

Unfortunately I’m struggling to find many sources that discuss this study. I suspect the problem is he refused to release the data. Does anyone have any discussions they can link me to?

I’ve read the one by Robert Todd Carroll, which unfortunately uses very over-the-top language.

I’m presuming there must have been a lot of discussion about this triple blind study at the time, but I’m really struggling to find much.
 
Sucks that the study isn't open access, but if I'm not mistaken it appears to be a very small effect size and a very small sample size. This is conceivably statistical noise. There were 8 coin flips here on subject vs control deceased (one element of the test here) and even getting 8 heads in a row isn't particularly outlandish.

The rest of the test, the itemized transcripts, could introduce some confounding factors for one element of the blinding, so I'd want to see what those entailed to say for sure if that part of the experiment was rigorous.

I appreciate that the sitters were chosen from a pool of 1600 participants, but I am interested in seeing how they ensured the medium was blinded to their selection as well.

Long story short, there are a few ways I can see how they might sink their experimental rigor. Having full access to the paper might help clear that up but they also might be just as vague there. This would barely qualify as a "more research is needed" study in any other context.
 
I suspect the problem is he refused to release the data.
If that's the case (after the data has been anonymised- removing real names etc.), one has to ask why.

Having such a small number of subjects is problematic, as marquess points out.

If the experimenters really believed there was any chance that the mediums were communicating with deceased but conscious individuals, I wonder what consent process was used for the deceased. The experimenters might claim that response indicated consent- but if the deceased aren't advised that they are taking part in a (para)psychology experiment, it isn't informed consent.

I'm going to be a bit uncharitable, and suggest that maybe Beischel and Schwartz didn't consider this. If this turns out to be the case- and I'm sure the experimenters are always careful to work within a standard ethical framework- then it might imply that Beischel and Schwartz didn't really think the mediums were interacting with conscious intelligences- or maybe that deceased conscious people are outside ethical considerations...
 
*Edit* Whoops. Should have clicked on your link first. I just saw the name Schwartz, I didn't realize it was also written by Beischel.

Here's a link to the full Beischel, Schwartz paper:

https://www.windbridge.org/papers/BeischelEXPLORE2007vol3.pdf

~~~

Can't comment on Schwartz's study, but Julie Beischel has been doing similar interesting work recently:

https://www.windbridge.org/papers/BeischelEXPLORE2015vol11.pdf

Context: The examination of the accuracy and specificity of information reported by mediums addresses the existence of
non-local information transfer.

Objective: This study was designed to replicate and extend a previous methodology achieving positive findings regarding the anomalous reception of information about deceased individuals by research mediums under experimental conditions that eliminate conventional explanations, including cold reading, rater bias, experimenter cueing, and fraud.

Design: Mediumship readings were performed over the phone under blinded conditions in which mediums, raters, and experimenters were all blinded.

Participants: A total of 20 Windbridge Certified Research Mediums WCRMs participated in 86 readings.

Main Outcome Measures: Accuracy and specificity were assessed through item scores, global reading scores, and forced-choice selections provided by blinded sitters.

Results: (1) Comparisons between blinded target and decoy readings regarding the estimated percentage accuracy of reading items (n ¼ 27, P ¼ .05, d ¼ 0.49), (2) comparisons regarding the calculated percentage accuracy of reading items (n ¼ 31, P ¼ .002, d ¼ 0.75), (3) comparisons regarding hits vs. misses (n ¼ 31, P o .0001 and P ¼ .002 for different reading sections), (4) comparisons regarding global scores (n ¼ 58, P ¼ .001, d ¼ 0.57), and (5) forced-choice reading selections between blinded target and decoy readings (n ¼ 58, P ¼ .01) successfully replicate and extend previous findings demonstrating the phenomenon of anomalous information reception (AIR), the reporting of accurate and specific information without prior knowledge, in the absence of sensory feedback, and without using deceptive means. Because the experimental conditions of this study eliminated normal, sensory sources for the information mediums report, a non-local source (however controversial) remains the most likely explanation for the accuracy and specificity of their statements.
 
I’m presuming there must have been a lot of discussion about this triple blind study at the time, but I’m really struggling to find much.
Not finding much either.

Here's a link to the full Beischel, Schwartz paper:

https://www.windbridge.org/papers/BeischelEXPLORE2007vol3.pdf

~~~

Can't comment on Schwartz's study, but Julie Beischel has been doing similar interesting work recently:

https://www.windbridge.org/papers/BeischelEXPLORE2015vol11.pdf
Thanks for the links!

From the first study mentioned in OP:
External Quote:
Eight adult mental (vs. trance) mediums (one male, seven females) who had in the past demonstrated an ability to report accurate information under “normal” mediumistic conditions (i.e., with sitter feedback) were chosen for the study.

[...]

Each of the eight mediums performed two readings: one for each sitter in a pair. Each of the four pairs of sitters was read by two different mediums for a total of eight pairs of readings.

[...]

After summary scoring was complete for both readings in a pair, the sitters were asked to “Pick the reading which seems to be more applicable to you. Even if they both seem equally applicable or non-applicable, pick one.” They were then asked to rate their choice compared to the other reading according to the following scale:

a. clearly more applicable to me
b. moderately more applicable to me
c. only slightly more applicable to me
d. both seemed applicable to me and to the same extent
e. neither seemed applicable to me

It was expected that a forced-choice binary rating would be a less sensitive indicator than the matched-pair summary rating scores.

[...]

When asked to choose which reading was more applicable to them, sitters chose the readings intended for them 81% of the time (13/16, p 0.01, one-tailed exact binomial). Of those 13, seven were rated “clearly more applicable” and three as “moderately more applicable”; one sitter each chose the other three options (see Methods). Of the three sitters that chose the control reading, one chose “clearly more applicable,” one chose “moderately more applicable,” and one chose “neither seemed applicable.”
So eight mediums gave two readings each, and of those 16 readings, sitters only chose seven of the medium readings as "clearly more applicable", and three were complete misses. Doesn't seem very robust with so few samples and the results don't seem that significant.

Haven't read the second paper yet but they used a much larger sample size and at a glance the methodology looks more robust, will have to check it out later. One thing I noticed skimming through is they seem to have reversed position on using forced-choice binary rating in the second paper, unsure why.

External Quote:
Experiments 1 and 2. In addition to the estimated and calculated item percentage accuracies collected in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively, each of the sitters also provided a global score for each reading (using the same 0–6 scoring system used for Phase scoring in the section Exploratory study above) and engaged in a forced-choice selection in which they chose which of two blinded readings (target or decoy) was
more applicable to them. Of the combined 68 readings (28 from Experiment 1 and 40 from Experiment 2), 58 (27 from Experiment 1 and 31 from Experiment 2) usable scores were collected.
 
Eight adult mental (vs. trance) mediums (one male, seven females) who had in the past demonstrated an ability to report accurate information under “normal” mediumistic conditions (i.e., with sitter feedback) were chosen for the study.

[...]

Each of the eight mediums performed two readings: one for each sitter in a pair. Each of the four pairs of sitters was read by two different mediums for a total of eight pairs of readings.
1. Excuse my skepticism, but I'd really like to know if those two steps were taken in that order.
2. Have we any guarantee that the eight were not chosen just because they showed more proficiency at "cold reading"?
 
1. Excuse my skepticism, but I'd really like to know if those two steps were taken in that order.
2. Have we any guarantee that the eight were not chosen just because they showed more proficiency at "cold reading"?
If the blinding procedures are robust, then cold reading wouldn't be an issue. That's why I was interested in the details of the procedure. It wouldn't matter (so far as the use of cold reading is concerned) whether they selected their mediums before or after they conducted their test. That being said, if they did select the mediums after the test was conducted out of a larger pool of mediums and readings, that suggests p hacking and the results would be similarly worthless.
 
The studies look fairly well designed at a first glance, but as with all parapsychological experiments there are problems.

1. Sample size is very small for the first study, and the larger one also has an, in my opinion, small sample size considering it was collected over several years and (according to the authors) include every reading they collected according to those criteria during that time.

2. The mediums are given the names of the dead person to be able to "focus" on that person. A name contains information in itself, and I would assume for a good cold reader (i.e. a medium) it will give them more clues than for the average person. They discuss this problem in the second paper, where they claim they control for it by pairing people with names that gives clues to their ethnicity and religion, which wouldn't work if they didn't use decoy readings. Interestingly and not surprisingly, in the first experiment where they don't seem to have done this, the sitters are better at identifying the intended reading and the scores given for information accuracy are higher. And though they still mostly get "significant" results to their questions, they are still small effects and without seeing the actual names it's hard to know to which extent the pairing actually helped obscure them for the medium. For example, if it's two dead women named Fadumo and Fadime, I'd probably guess they were both Muslims, but I would only describe one of them as black. Also, it introduces the possibility of selection bias, in that people with less common names and ethnicities would probably be excluded to a higher degree. This could in theory be "good" for the study, since those persons would presumably also be easier to cold read for a skilled person, but it takes away power from the general applicability of the results and, again, without knowing how these choices were made specifically, it's hard to say what the effects were in this particular case.

3. We get the forms for the questions asked, but we get no examples of answers from either medium or "sitter" and the questions, while they might seem specific in some ways ("what hobbies did the person have?" "How did they die?" etc) they are also quite open to interpretation. Without seeing the answers provided for ourselves it is very hard to actually assess how accurate the answers given were.

4. They recruit people who are believers or motivated to believe as sitters. This is a huge problem, but they seem to be more concerned with hostility from skeptics than believer's bias.


Of course, the huge, glaring problem with these studies is the lack of an explanatory mechanism for the information retrieval, which they acknowledge, but they still claim that an "anomalous" explanation is the most likely, which I strongly disagree with, and while the exclusion of telepathy as a possible explanation is laudable, if amusing, it bothers me that so little seems to be done by parapsychologists in order to describe and categorize these phenomena in a structured manner. If it is something real, we should be able to discern patterns and limits. If we can't, how can we even be sure that it is the same phenomenon we are observing? What kind of information is retriavable? In what form is it communicated (words, feelings, pictures?). Does this differ between mediums, discarnates, cultures? All of them? If so, which effect is stronger? Does it take longer time to retrieve information from a person who died far away than one that died close to the place where the medium is?

And why don't they ask more specific questions, so that they can get specific answers? If the discarnate can answer questions about their hobbies and how they died and also ask questions to the sitter, why can't they answer questions that would give the researchers unambiguous answers?

Questions like:

-Which year were you born?
-In what country were you born?
-How many children did you have?


I would also like to see them try and explain why a medium can get some things right, but not all of them. Where is the false information coming from (I mean, in my opinion it comes from them guessing, but if they are disregarding this possibility, they still have to find answers to explain it)? The mediums that are seemingly really good at information retrieval should be tested again and again under different conditions to try and find the limits of their "powers".

I doubt the people who does this kind of research will ever actually try to get to the bottom of it, since that would most probably mean finding out that there is nothing paranormal going on and that goes contrary to their own beliefs. As long as they can design experiments that seem to measure "something" anomalous and get that p<0.05 value, they will be happy not explaining what that "something" is or even describing it in detail.
 
I'm only looking at the first study with 8 mediums. Now this is a tiny sample size. And I think I'm reading it right, but doesn't it say that each medium was only asked four questions? And then it's a subjective call to determine accuracy and applicability. That's a large enough hole to drive a UAP through. It sounds like an orderly way to collect information, but not a scientific one. I'd really like to see a record of the actual answers to see how vague they are. It doesn't read as a proper study to prove in the survival of the soul, it reads like a paper that outlines how good these professional mediums are at fooling people with their skills.
 
Of course, the huge, glaring problem with these studies is the lack of an explanatory mechanism for the information retrieval, which they acknowledge, but they still claim that an "anomalous" explanation is the most likely, which I strongly disagree with, and while the exclusion of telepathy as a possible explanation is laudable, if amusing, it bothers me that so little seems to be done by parapsychologists in order to describe and categorize these phenomena in a structured manner. If it is something real, we should be able to discern patterns and limits. If we can't, how can we even be sure that it is the same phenomenon we are observing? What kind of information is retriavable? In what form is it communicated (words, feelings, pictures?). Does this differ between mediums, discarnates, cultures? All of them? If so, which effect is stronger? Does it take longer time to retrieve information from a person who died far away than one that died close to the place where the medium is?

And why don't they ask more specific questions, so that they can get specific answers? If the discarnate can answer questions about their hobbies and how they died and also ask questions to the sitter, why can't they answer questions that would give the researchers unambiguous answers?

Questions like:

-Which year were you born?
-In what country were you born?
-How many children did you have?


I would also like to see them try and explain why a medium can get some things right, but not all of them. Where is the false information coming from (I mean, in my opinion it comes from them guessing, but if they are disregarding this possibility, they still have to find answers to explain it)? The mediums that are seemingly really good at information retrieval should be tested again and again under different conditions to try and find the limits of their "powers".

I doubt the people who does this kind of research will ever actually try to get to the bottom of it, since that would most probably mean finding out that there is nothing paranormal going on and that goes contrary to their own beliefs. As long as they can design experiments that seem to measure "something" anomalous and get that p<0.05 value, they will be happy not explaining what that "something" is or even describing it in detail.

A lot of good questions here. Beischel actually did a study one one of these questions: "in what form is the information retrieved?":

https://windbridge.org/papers/RockBeischelJSE 2008.pdf

External Quote:

Thematic Analysis of Research Mediums' Experiences of Discarnate Communication

Abstract—Mediums claim to be able to report accurate and specific information about the deceased loved ones (termed discarnates) of living people (termed sitters) even without any prior knowledge about the sitters or the discarnates and in the complete absence of any sensory feedback. Despite recent experimental research investigating this phenomenon (e.g., Beischel & Schwartz, 2007a), no systematic qualitative studies have been conducted. Consequently, eight research mediums were asked to describe in as much detail as possible how they personally experience receiving communication from a discarnate, as part of a comprehensive nine-step subject screening procedure. Thematic analysis revealed seven comprehensive constituent themes that were used to formulate a fundamental structural definition.
Here's a link to her website's page that includes all her peer reviewed articles:

https://www.windbridge.org/peer-reviewed-research-articles/
 
I'm only looking at the first study with 8 mediums. Now this is a tiny sample size. And I think I'm reading it right, but doesn't it say that each medium was only asked four questions? And then it's a subjective call to determine accuracy and applicability. That's a large enough hole to drive a UAP through. It sounds like an orderly way to collect information, but not a scientific one. I'd really like to see a record of the actual answers to see how vague they are. It doesn't read as a proper study to prove in the survival of the soul, it reads like a paper that outlines how good these professional mediums are at fooling people with their skills.

This is definitely fair criticism. I think it'd be most worthwhile to just focus on her newest study since it builds upon the first one and tightens a lot of the controls based on feedback and criticism she received from the first one.

https://www.windbridge.org/papers/BeischelEXPLORE2015vol11.pdf
 
Can't comment on Schwartz's study, but Julie Beischel has been doing similar interesting work recently:

https://www.windbridge.org/papers/BeischelEXPLORE2015vol11.pdf

The mediums are recruited from the Windbridge Research Center
https://www.windbridge.org/about-us/

-where, if you click on "Managing Directors", the Director of Research is... Julie Beischel.
But there is no corresponding declaration of interest in the "Anomalous Information Reception by Research Mediums under Blinded Conditions II" paper of 2015.

Objectively, it could be said she has a vested interest in producing research that supports mediumship.
Which she doesn't declare in the 2015 paper.
 
The mediums are recruited from the Windbridge Research Center
https://www.windbridge.org/about-us/

-where, if you click on "Managing Directors", the Director of Research is... Julie Beischel.
But there is no corresponding declaration of interest in the "Anomalous Information Reception by Research Mediums under Blinded Conditions II" paper of 2015.

Objectively, it could be said she has a vested interest in producing research that supports mediumship.
Which she doesn't declare in the 2015 paper.

My understanding is that the Windbridge research center is her non profit organization that was created specifically to do this kind of research. The mediums recruited for the study were Windbridge certified, which simply means they were mediums who passed certain quality control tests. They don't actually work for Windbridge.

External Quote:
"Before participating in research at the Windbridge Research Center, each prospective research medium was screened over several months using an intensive 8-step screening and training procedure:

1: Written Questionnaire
2: Personality/Psychological Tests
3: Phone Interview (with an existing WCRM)
4: Phone Interview (with a Windbridge Investigator)
5: Two Blinded Phone Readings
6: Mediumship Research Training
7: Human Research Subjects Training
8: Grief Training

Upon successful completion of the eight steps, the medium is called a Windbridge Certified Research Medium (WCRM).

Each WCRM agrees to donate a minimum of four hours per month to assist in various aspects of the research and to embrace a strong commitment to the values of scientific mediumship research."

For compete details of the screening and training procedure, see the following published, peer-reviewed paper:
Beischel, J. (2007). Contemporary methods used in laboratory-based mediumship research. Journal of Parapsychology, 71, 37-68.z
https://www.windbridge.org/mediums/
 
@Amathia
I read a small portion of Beischel's paper that you reference, but didn't dig into the methodology itself. But right off the bat, she seems eager to show that consciousness persists after death (which seems to me to be a very religion-based claim). She also refers to mediumship as a "natural phenomenon", although it most definitely is not.

The "discarnate" are, of course, not the only entities who know the answer to questions about the departed. There are also their friends and/or relatives, the ones who are asked to verify the results of the questions or to choose the closest response. The idea that the medium is communicating with the dead is something that would be indistinguishable from communicating with their survivors.

I agree with those who say this is far too tiny a sample and too marginal a positive result to consider it to have any significance. As for communicating with the dead, nope, I remain unconvinced. <—— (This is me vastly understating my negative opinion in the interest of being polite.)
 
@Amathia
I read a small portion of Beischel's paper that you reference, but didn't dig into the methodology itself. But right off the bat, she seems eager to show that consciousness persists after death (which seems to me to be a very religion-based claim). She also refers to mediumship as a "natural phenomenon", although it most definitely is not.

The "discarnate" are, of course, not the only entities who know the answer to questions about the departed. There are also their friends and/or relatives, the ones who are asked to verify the results of the questions or to choose the closest response. The idea that the medium is communicating with the dead is something that would be indistinguishable from communicating with their survivors.

I agree with those who say this is far too tiny a sample and too marginal a positive result to consider it to have any significance. As for communicating with the dead, nope, I remain unconvinced. <—— (This is me vastly understating my negative opinion in the interest of being polite.)

Can you clarify what you mean by this?

"The idea that the medium is communicating with the dead is something that would be indistinguishable from communicating with their survivors."

The survivors are the ones picking out which reading they believe is most accurate for the given discarnate they're hoping to hear from. The null hypothesis would predict that the survivors would pick out the correct reading at rates no greater than chance, right? So if the mediums are able to produce readings that are correctly picked out by the survivors at statistically higher rates than chance in a consistent manner, that requires explanation, either some methodological flaw, living-agent psi, or genuine mediumship ability.

I'm not defending the claims for survival after death, I'm just interested in studies like these because the author clearly made a good faith effort to insert the methodological rigor she has experience with from her prior research in medicine to these kinds of questions and I want to engage with her work in equal good faith.

Also, I'm curious about sample size. For studies like these do we want a bigger sample size in terms of how many mediums were tested, or a bigger sample size in terms of the number of trials each medium was subjected to? If genuine mediumship exists, it's not clear how widespread such abilities are in the general population. It might turn out that mediumship is a rare skill that only a small sample of the population have access to. Do we need more mediums in each study or more trials per medium?

With regards to mediumship being a natural phenomenon, that seems to depend on your prior assumptions. If you're a naturalist (like you seem to be, and so am I), then no, it isn't a natural phenomenon because there is no such thing as survival after death so the information can't be coming from there. But if you believe you have good evidence that survival after death is possible (as she does) and you don't rule it out a priori, then it's perfectly sensible to say mediumship is a natural phenomenon considering the fact that it seems to occur naturally among the human population (even if it's exceedingly rare). Her claim about it being a natural phenomenon is consistent with her worldview and with the claims she's trying to defend in this research.
 
The mediums are recruited from the Windbridge Research Center
https://www.windbridge.org/about-us/

-where, if you click on "Managing Directors", the Director of Research is... Julie Beischel.
But there is no corresponding declaration of interest in the "Anomalous Information Reception by Research Mediums under Blinded Conditions II" paper of 2015.

Objectively, it could be said she has a vested interest in producing research that supports mediumship.
Which she doesn't declare in the 2015 paper.
It's curious how interconnected the world of woo is:
External Quote:
BICS Essay Contest Winner – November 24, 2021 (Essay)

My essay “Beyond Reasonable: Scientific Evidence for Survival” won a runner-up prize in the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies (BICS) Essay Contest asking “What is the best available evidence for the survival of human consciousness after permanent bodily death?”
https://www.juliebphd.com/media/

I also notice that she, or her practitioners, never won the Randi prize.
 
The survivors are the ones picking out which reading they believe is most accurate for the given discarnate they're hoping to hear from. The null hypothesis would predict that the survivors would pick out the correct reading at rates no greater than chance, right? So if the mediums are able to produce readings that are correctly picked out by the survivors at statistically higher rates than chance in a consistent manner, that requires explanation, either some methodological flaw, living-agent psi, or genuine mediumship ability.
That ability, IF it could be demonstrated rigorously and repeatedly, not just by a tiny experiment which can easily fall into the category of a statistical anomaly, would not distinguish in any way between the dead and the living as the source of the information. I say "IF", because to my knowledge such a demonstration has not yet happened. As has been pointed out on this thread, you can get a long run of heads even on something as random as a coin flip. When the test uses a "forced choice" method, as described in the paper, the participants are told they must pick one or the other reading as being closest. THAT is a coin flip, when people are not allowed to say "Neither one of these describes the person at all".

As for the "discarnate", be sure to let us know when the dead reveal the PIN number for their secret bank account, or tell the medium that the diamond necklace is beneath the third floorboard between the windows of the guest bedroom. ;)
 
When the test uses a "forced choice" method, as described in the paper, the participants are told they must pick one or the other reading as being closest. THAT is a coin flip, when people are not allowed to say "Neither one of these describes the person at all".
they were allowed to say it according to comment #5. unfortunately a second study was introduced in this thread so i have to assume monkeesage is quoting from the correct study. (you can check)

As for the "discarnate", be sure to let us know when the dead reveal the PIN number for their secret bank account, or tell the medium that the diamond necklace is beneath the third floorboard between the windows of the guest bedroom. ;)
dead people are unlikely interested in that sort of thing anymore. Besides, then we have to calculate the odds of a real medium interacting with someone with a dead relative who has a secret bank account or hidden necklace. I'm not saying mediums are real..i cant imagine a dead spirit wanting to talk to some rando...but if it is possible then maybe, what?, .5% of mediums are actually gifted? you would have to see like 200 mediums before one tells you abou thte necklace!
 
My understanding is that the Windbridge research center is her non profit organization that was created specifically to do this kind of research.

Beischel still should have declared her connection in the two papers.
She is the Director of Research, one of two managing directors, in an organisation that certifies mediums.

The Windbridge-certified mediums are arguably in a dependent relationship with her, if they're recompensed for their Windbridge-related work (or if their certification brings in additional work).

And not-for-profit doesn't mean unpaid. If Beischel gets an income or compensation from Windbridge, I think her connection should have been declared.

External Quote:
Sitters. Nearly 1000 potential research sitters had volunteered to participate in mediumship research by completing an online form through the Windbridge Institute website(www.windbridge.org/sitters.html). Each sitter had reported wanting to hear from one specific discarnate during their reading.
https://www.windbridge.org/papers/BeischelEXPLORE2015vol11.pdf

-Indicating that the sitters (the subjects) are in the first instance, perhaps more likely to believe in mediumship (they wish to hear from a deceased person, and have checked out the Windbridge website).

What criteria were used to select the sitters used from the nearly 1,000 applications? What had they been asked on the online form?

External Quote:
The sitters (88% female and 12% male) who scored the discarnate readings (36% female and 64% male) in this study were randomly selected from the general sitter pool
my emphasis, the scorers are likewise maybe more likely to believe in mediumship.

Page 140 of the paper, we find out there were 27 subjects in experiment 1, 31 subjects in experiment 2, total 58 S's.
Page 138, for experiment 1, the Windbridge mediums performed 28 readings. Why was one subject "lost"?

...and of course, 58 out of nearly 1,000 applicants leaves a lot of room for pre-selection.

It would be interesting to see if we got similar results with a similar group of subjects "read" by competent faux "mediums"/ mentalists, who can demonstrate "mediumistic" skills in blind reading but are open about their lack of paranormal powers.

If a sample of " sceptical" subjects were used, or perhaps a sample of S's adjusted to reflect beliefs in the paranormal as per the general population, with the original mediums, I suspect results might be different.

Of course, we have no reason to believe that Beischel et al. are anything other than sincere, competent people trying to expand our knowledge of the world.

But the world of mediumship has many, many cases of deliberate deception, sometimes ingeniously organised, sometimes simple and reliant on other's will to believe. Self-deception might also be common.
And not one medium has ever, ever unambiguously demonstrated contact with a deceased person.
 
you would have to see like 200 mediums before one tells you abou thte necklace!

Not at all! If we take the 2015 study at face value, the Windbridge mediums are getting a better than 50% "hit" rate with any deceased person whose name is given to them.

It should only take 8 or so readings for us to hear about the latest collaboration of Mahler, Glen Miller, Elvis and Sid Vicious
:)

Or find out what Einstein, Turing, Curie and Darwin have been discussing.
I wonder what they would have to say? I think I can guess:

"It's all very nice here. There's no need to worry, you'll be fine. Your old dog's here too! He's having a great time. Looking forward to when we're reunited. Lots of love!"
 
those are odd numbers. how do you end up with 64% male out of a 12% pool?
I suppose that of the sitters recruited, 88% are female, 12% male.
The sitters who scored the readings are a sub-group, 64% male, 36% female. Maybe. I could be totally wrong.

You raise an interesting question though; why is the gender ratio of sitters who scored readings so different from that of the total subject group?
How many scorers were chosen?
Were the "scoring" people actually drawn from the subjects who were read? The use of "sitter" implies that they were,

External Quote:
The sitters (88% female and 12% male) who scored the discarnate readings (36% female and 64% male) in this study were randomly selected from the general sitter pool
..but maybe it's possible that "sitter" is used by the researcher for people who were selected from the Windbridge respondents, but who weren't amongst the 58 S's in experiments 1 and 2.

Edited to add:
dead people are unlikely interested in that sort of thing anymore.
Dunno.
If someone claimed they'd contacted my late (and much-loved) Dad, and his first or second sentence wasn't something like
"How much is this medium costing? I'll keep this short"; "You don't need the boiler on!" or some gem like,
"Mr Coleman made his money from the mustard that's left in the pot",
I'd know there was trickery afoot.
 
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the Windbridge mediums are getting a better than 50% "hit" rate with any deceased person whose name is given to them.
yea but those are the best 8 in the state (or several states). if there are 5000 mediums in your state, the chances you stumble upon one of these 8 is slim :)
 
Dunno.
If someone claimed they'd contacted my late (and much-loved) Dad, and his first or second sentence wasn't something like
"How much is this medium costing? I'll keep this short"; "You don't need the boiler on!" or some gem like,
"Mr Coleman made his money from the mustard that's left in the pot",
I'd know there was trickery afoot.
nah. because he left his brain behind. when he 'saw the light' that means he now has access to the universal connectiveness of the cosmos..so he'd be interested in love and flowers blooming and the beauty of the bee hive he sees in your eaves. although.. that could also be proof there is no alien life or some dead person probably would have mentioned that at some point. :)
 
I think the first set of numbers refers to the scorers, the second refers to the "discarnate", i.e, the DEAD people they were trying to contact.

Ah, I hadn't considered that at all. That would invalidate my concern about sitters, perhaps more likely to believe in mediums, doing the scoring.

-I just noticed this;
External Quote:
Of the 40 Experiment 2 readings performed, 31 were returned and contained usable data
https://www.windbridge.org/papers/BeischelEXPLORE2015vol11.pdf

...so there were 40 subjects at the start of experiment 2, not the "n = 31" stated several times on page 140.

40 readings were performed- so no subjects dropped out- so why is the data from 9 (22.5%) missing or not usable?

Each of the twenty Windbridge-approved medium performed two readings for experiment 2,
so between five (4 mediums x 2 readings, + 1 medium x 1 reading) and nine (9 mediums x 1 reading) mediums out of twenty failed to supply usable data from at least one of their readings.

Edited to add:
that could also be proof there is no alien life or some dead person probably would have mentioned that at some point.
Maybe all the UFOs / UAPs and little grey bedroom visitors are ghosts of aliens. I think that would explain a lot. ;)
 
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I recently got pulled into a debate with an academic about mediumship. She is a big believer having lost her mother recently.

As someone who grew up a mentalism nerd, I felt I may be able to pull her out of the rabbit hole. She sent a triple blind study by Gary Schwartz. I remember his battles with Randi. Here is the study:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S155083070600454X

Unfortunately I’m struggling to find many sources that discuss this study. I suspect the problem is he refused to release the data. Does anyone have any discussions they can link me to?

I’ve read the one by Robert Todd Carroll, which unfortunately uses very over-the-top language.

I’m presuming there must have been a lot of discussion about this triple blind study at the time, but I’m really struggling to find much.
Is there any special reason you are trying to convince your friend her mother is gone for good?

Would you also do it if she lost her child?
 
https://www.windbridge.org/papers/BeischelEXPLORE2015vol11.pdf

...so there were 40 subjects at the start of experiment 2, not the "n = 31" stated several times on page 140.

40 readings were performed- so no subjects dropped out- so why is the data from 9 (22.5%) missing or not usable?

Each of the twenty Windbridge-approved medium performed two readings for experiment 2,
so between five (4 mediums x 2 readings, + 1 medium x 1 reading) and nine (9 mediums x 1 reading) mediums out of twenty failed to supply usable data from at least one of their readings.
oh you guys are talking about the study that has nothing to do with the OP study.
 
Wouldn't locked cases with long randomly generated numbers be a better means of testing mediums? Much less prone to ambiguities. Surely it's no trouble for a spirit to pop through a few inches of steel and read off a string of 15 numbers alongside talking to its earthly connections? Maybe not EVERY spirit would go along with that, but surely occasionally one would go along with such an effortless, comforting validation? I should hit up one of these mediums with such a case in tow and see what they say-I have a feeling the dead will prove remarkably uniform in their rejection of taking this action. I also bet I can get them to say the deceased can see me and my surroundings before I start asking about the case.
Or how about asking the medium to write down the deceased's email address? Granted some people have easy to guess email addresses but many have quite random ones and you could avoid using people whose relatives had easy to guess addresses, and that's a short, memorable bit of info that would be very easy for a spirit to tell someone and pretty difficult to randomly guess. And the writing down would make cold reading pretty much impossible.
 
Is there any special reason you are trying to convince your friend her mother is gone for good?

Would you also do it if she lost her child?
Mediums have nothing to do with the fact they arent 'gone for good'. My grandfather twice blew my screen door open for me when i was struggling with packages, that is much more meaningful then someone having to tell me 'he's keeping an eye out'.

There are many so-called mediums and such who will take advantage of grief. If you find one that just tells you in one session or two.."she is at peace and she wants you to know she is always with you. She needs you to let go and find peace yourself" then that is great. but some are greedy for a steady paycheck and it's not healthy long term not to process your grief appropriately.

Personally i wouldnt care so much if my friend wanted to contact a parent, but i would be concerned if it was a child. It's not a child's job to comfort a parent.
 
Is there any special reason you are trying to convince your friend her mother is gone for good?

Would you also do it if she lost her child?
Wouldn't that depend upon the friend? If she just talks to her departed mother now and then, it's not much of a problem. If she impoverishes herself (or perhaps neglects her children or the rest of her family) going from medium to medium in an obsession with contacting her mother, perhaps an intervention is called for. I know, it's a cliché to say "move on", but she may need help to do so.

The same goes for the loss of a child. A niece of mine died quite young, in her early twenties. My sister (her mother) was teaching a CPR class that day. Her husband and son told her the sad news at break time ...and she went back in and taught the second half of the class. That doesn't mean she didn't feel the pain and the loss, but she stayed in control of her feelings at the time. I think having a job to keep her busy helped her.
 
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Is there any special reason you are trying to convince your friend her mother is gone for good?

Would you also do it if she lost her child?
She is so convinced that she is training to be a medium. She is citing studies and claiming my scepticism is unwarranted because people such as Randi misled people. She wants to actively debate because in her view the studies show mediumship is likely real.

She’s going down a path of self delusion and magical thinking rather than dealing with grief.

If she wasn’t citing studies and trying to debate, I’d have just thought how sad the whole thing was and let it be.
 
2. The mediums are given the names of the dead person to be able to "focus" on that person. A name contains information in itself, and I would assume for a good cold reader (i.e. a medium) it will give them more clues than for the average person.
They paired an old and a young deceased each time, and given that name preferences are generational, there's definitely information here.

From Anomalous Information Reception by Research Mediums Demonstrated Using a Novel Triple-Blind Protocol:
External Quote:

SmartSelect_20230906-124202_Samsung Notes.jpg


SmartSelect_20230906-125557_Samsung Notes.jpg

SmartSelect_20230906-125612_Samsung Notes.jpg

I'm not happy at all that the sitters were asked for the information that the mediums were to divine. I'm not happy at all that they "maximized differences" mainly based on age. I'm not happy at all that they didn't do control ratings.

This "difference optimization" detracts from the fact that the medium needed to guess just one thing, "old" vs. "young", to deliver distinct cold readings.

And I would've given each sitter four pairs of readings to rate, two that contain "their" reading, and two pairs that do not, and see if the control pairs also fit that young vs. old pattern successfully. Or, you know, show the sitters all 16 readings and ask them to pick "theirs" before going into the pairwise ratings.

And I'm not happy at all that first names, correct answers, and readings are unavailable. I suspect it'll turn out, as in remote viewing studies, that the binary choice hides what would otherwise be a glaring inaccuracy of the readings.

This methodology seems purposely crafted to hide the true mechanism by which success is achieved.
 
I recently got pulled into a debate with an academic about mediumship. She is a big believer having lost her mother recently.
Is that person religious? What views does their religion have about the afterlife? "Grandma is watching from heaven", for example, is not commensurable with Christian theology.
 
She is so convinced that she is training to be a medium. She is citing studies and claiming my scepticism is unwarranted because people such as Randi misled people. She wants to actively debate because in her view the studies show mediumship is likely real.

She’s going down a path of self delusion and magical thinking rather than dealing with grief.

If she wasn’t citing studies and trying to debate, I’d have just thought how sad the whole thing was and let it be.

Training to be a medium, eh? Ask her to ask your closest dead relative to reveal the thing that you both agreed, whilst they were still alive, they would communicate from beyond the grave. If you didn't have such a message agreed, and being a medium was a real thing, then she'd be able to inform you that you were making stuff up.

Yes, this is the Houdinis idea, from almost a century back. I didn't claim to be original.
 
Is that person religious? What views does their religion have about the afterlife? "Grandma is watching from heaven", for example, is not commensurable with Christian theology.

I'm not sure what nuance your word choice "commensurable" was intended to express; a "concordant" or "consistent" would have been my choice - no measuring need take place.

Your statement would be true if christianity wasn't so roll-your-own. Alternative views are widely available. Contradictions come for free!

How about Hebrews 12:1 - that's not even "watching from heaven", that's "surrounded by" - they're here amongst us!

External Quote:
Hebrews gives us a wonderful list of people who are commended by God for their faith. It is a catalogue of men and women, named and unnamed, that stand as witnesses to lives that honoured the Lord – men like Abraham who looked for a city whose Builder and Maker is God; women like Sarah who considered God was faithful to keep His promise.

They are called "a great cloud of witnesses," and indeed their lives demonstrate a trust in God that stands as a wonderful testimony to the faithfulness of God in their lives, and a great encouragement for us to run the race that lies before us, and press on for the high call of God as we look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith Who endured the Cross for our sake: "Therefore," we are exhorted, "since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/hebrews-12-1

Likewise, Luke 15 states twice (the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin) that those in heaven react (rejoicing) to the actions (repenting) of those on earth - that's impossible unless those down here are under observation by those up there. Maybe there's some baroque demarkation of responsibilities and need-to-know filters on the information flow so that granny can't find out what you do in the stationery cupboard at office parties, but someone's leaking info from earth into heaven. If trying to get to the root of this leak, I'd first check that great cloud of witnesses, some of them seem a bit loose-lipped.
 
Likewise, Luke 15 states twice (the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin) that those in heaven react (rejoicing) to the actions (repenting) of those on earth - that's impossible unless those down here are under observation by those up there.
Sure, but it's not granny. NIV:
External Quote:
10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
 
Sure, but it's not granny. NIV:
External Quote:
10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
If granny's in the presence of angels, then how does that not include granny?
 
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