Previously published in the Winter 2014 ATransC NewsJournal
Dr. Ferdinando Bersani reported on the work of the Bologna Center for Parapsychological Studies (CSP) at the 2013 Parapsychological Association conference in Italy.1 In part, he reported that:
“At the beginning of the seventies, the Raudive Voices phenomenon (or ‘metaphonia’) attracted the CSP’s attention, since it became popular in Italy and many people, mainly composed by persons who had lost sons or very loved relatives, wrote books and/or publicized their experience. A group of the CSP, including myself, deeply investigated the phenomenon, trying to obtain anomalous voices with different techniques and to simulate them in different ways; after about a decade of observations and experiments, the most peculiar conclusion was that the phenomenon could be explained in terms of psycho-acoustic illusions, a sort of acoustic “Rorshach inkblots.”
Concerning this, Paolo Presi wrote:2
At the beginning of the ‘80s, the research [in Italy] came to a halt due to the argumentation backed up by Professor Ferdinando Bersani, a physicist of CSP. He exploited the weak aspect of the phenomenon, namely the acoustic ambiguity of the “voices.” He claimed that if any ordinary acoustic event is artificially fragmented and cadenced, it could be interpreted in a linguistic manner if the perceiver is expected to receive a message.
At the time, I was able to defend the authenticity of the phenomenon with a simple counter-demonstration. Based on the mechanism that regulates human perception, I showed how all acoustic perception is influenced by the attentive condition of the listener to hear. In particular, I pointed out that, with a specific degree of attention (selective attention), even loud acoustic stimuli could go unperceived at consciousness level.
I therefore concluded that what Professor F. Bersani claimed did not undermine the objective reality of the “voices,” but that he only exploited the weakest aspect of the phenomenon. The fact that the ‘voices’ are not easily understandable may, de facto, lead to interpretative mistakes. The psychoacoustic decoding is a perfectly normal process and it does not only involve perception of the ‘voices,’ but the whole perceptive system of human communication.
It is clear that the CSP, specifically Bersani, decided in the 1980s that EVP are just noise mistaken as voice; illusion. The report: “Instrumental Analysis of EVP Collected via a Sound-Psi Interaction” demonstrates the level of expertise brought by Il Laboratorio to the study of transcommunication.3
The study of transcommunication involves two communities of interest: parapsychology who are focused on psi phenomena and human nature, and “paranormalists” (for lack of a better term) who are focused on phenomena related to survival of personality beyond physical death. With a few important exceptions such as the work conducted by Dr. Mark Leary,4 the parapsychological community has consistently produced “Failure to Replicate” reports.5 At the same time, mostly nonacademic researchers have been reporting studies demonstrating the objectivity of these phenomena such as the Il Laboratorio report in the ATransC Journal.
This is a strange and perplexing characteristic of our extended community which forces the question: “why does one part of the community consistently find these phenomena illusion while another finds them objective?” It has been our observation that research using inexperienced people as practitioners, conducted by people who are trained in psychology rather than technology and who are largely uninformed about the current understanding of the phenomena consistently produce “failure-to-replicate” results. Collaboration would fix that but it is not possible, considering the academic wall between lay people and trained researchers.
It is not that paranormalists are untrained or too eager to validate their experiences as paranormal. Yes, sometimes that is certainly the case, but there are important studies being conducted by well-educated people who are bent on conducting documented, controlled research. Most paranormalists today have moved on from proving the objectivity of these phenomena to seeking answers as to their nature.
The work of paranormalists is hampered by reports such as the one by Bersani to the PA. It is further hampered by the inability to address those reports in open dialogue, primarily because of their academic status. Meanwhile, the parapsychological community consistently lets such reports by probably unqualified psychologists go without challenge.
As we have proposed on many occasions, the solution is not to wait for the parapsychological community to catch up. It is for our community to participate in forums specifically intended for collaboration through presentation of reports and ideas, and that permit open discussion.
Here are a few discussion boards you might consider:
Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology (JEEP): This new organization is an online, international journal that caters to both the academic community and society at large. The organization is dedicated to the exploration of exceptional experiences, such as survival after death, out-of-body experiences, extrasensory perception, psychokinesis, poltergeists, mediumship, and hauntings. See: exceptionalpsychology.com/
Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies: The ASCSI purpose is to encourage an exchange of ideas between clergy and academics of religion, philosophy and scientists. There is an annual membership fee. The Academy has recently opened a discussion board which promises to become an important forum for your education. See: ascsi.org
Association TransCommunication (ATransC): The ATransC is dedicated to the study of all forms of transcommunication, which is communication across the veil with an emphasis on Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC), and its subset, Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). See: atransc.org/forum/
“Abstracts of Presented Papers at the 56th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association,” 2013, Page 54. See:
Presi, Paolo, “Italian Research in ITC,” ATransC articless: atransc.org/articles/presi-italian_research.htm
P. Presi, D. Gullà, G. Gagliardi, G. Lenzi; 2006, “Instrumental Analysis of EVP Collected via a Sound-Psi Interaction,” ATransC Online Journal: atransc.org/journal/presi-analysis-of-evp.htm
Leary, mark, Ph.D., “A Research Study into the Interpretation of EVP,” ATransC.org online Journal: atransc.org/journal/radio-sweep_study2.htm
Butler, Tom, “Critiquing ITC Articles written by Imants Barušs, Viewpoint,” EthericStudies.org: ethericstudies.org/viewpoint/failure_to_replicate.htm