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Can We Help Just by Good Intentions? A Meta-Analysis of Experiments on Distant Intention Effects

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In recent years, several clinical trials have assessed effects of distant healing. The basic question raised by these studies is whether a positive distant intention can be related to some outcome in a target person. There is a specific simple experimental setup that tests such a basic assumption. The task is to focus attention and to indicate unwanted mind wandering by a button press while at the same time a second remote person is either supporting this performance or not according to a randomized schedule. A meta-analysis was conducted to assess the overall effect of this experimental approach. A systematic literature search yielded 11 eligible studies, with 576 single sessions and almost identical design, that were conducted on three different continents. Study parameters were extracted and combined with a random-effects model. The model yielded an overall effect size of d=0.11 (p=0.03). Furthermore, there was a significant difference of the frequency of button presses between studies conducted in Indonesia and the Western hemisphere (p<0.001). Two (2) similar experimental setups applying electrodermal activity as dependent variable meta-analyzed earlier showed almost identical effect sizes. This can be considered as mutual validation of the three data sets. The hypothesis of the positive effect of benevolent intentions is supported by the data presented. It is concluded that especially the intentional aspect common to all three different tasks may be responsible for these unorthodox findings. These finding may have implications for distant healing research and health care as well as for meditation performance.
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Review Articles
Can We Help Just by Good Intentions? A Meta-Analysis
of Experiments on Distant Intention Effects
Stefan Schmidt, PhD
1,2,3
Abstract
Objectives: In recent years, several clinical trials have assessed effects of distant healing. The ba sic question
raised by these studies is whether a positive distant intention can be related to some outcome in a target person.
There is a specific simple experimental setup that tests such a basic assumption. The task is to focus attention and
to indicate unwanted mind wandering by a button press while at the same time a second remote perso n is either
supporting this performance or not according to a randomized schedule. A meta-analysis was conducted to
assess the overall effect of this experimental approach.
Methods: A systematic literature search yielded 11 eligible studies, with 576 singl e sessions and almost identical
design, that were conducted on three different continents. Study parameters were extracted and combin ed with
a random-effects model.
Results: The model yielded an overall effect size of d = 0.11 ( p = 0.03). Furthermore, there was a significant difference
of the frequency of button presses between studies conducted in Indonesia and the Western hemisphere ( p < 0.001).
Two (2) similar experimental setups applying electrodermal activity as dependent variable meta-analyzed earlier
showed almost identical effect sizes. This can be considered as mutual validation of the three data sets.
Conclusions: The hypothesis of the positive effect of benevolent intentions is supported by the data presented. It
is concluded that especially the intentional aspect common to all three different tasks may be responsible for
these unorthodox findings. These finding may have implications for dis tant healing research and health care as
well as for meditation performance.
Introduction
L
ittle intentional acts such as sending mentally good
wishes for recovery to a suffering relative, to keep one’s
fingers crossed when a good friend faces a difficult exami-
nation, or mentally cultivating a positive image of a beloved
person while being separated are just a few examples of a
wider group of behaviors related to what is often expressed as
distant intentions.
1–5
These behaviors can be seen as the basic
underlying procedures of more formal practices of distant
healing. Recently, several forms of spiritual healing have
grown popular within the field of alternative and comple-
mentary medicine and were assessed in clinical trials (e.g., as
distant healing
6–8
or as intercessory prayer
9–11
). However, so
far the abovementioned basic assumption of all these clinical
approaches (i.e., whether a positive distant intention can be
related to the behavior or physiology of the target person) has
hardly drawn any scientific attention. Interestingly, there is a
specific type of study, by the name of attention focusing facili-
tation experiment (AFFE), testing this fundamental assumption.
The first of these experiments was conducted by William
Braud and colleagues.
12
In this study, 1 participant had to fo-
cus his or her attention on a candle. Whenever s/he noticed
that his or her mind was wandering s/he returned with his
or her attention to the candle and pressed a button. A second
participant, located in a distant and isolated room, acted as
‘remote helper.’ That second participant had a monitor that
displayed either one of the two experimental conditions (i.e.,
‘Control’ or ‘Help’’). During ‘Help periods ‘the helper fo-
cused her own attention on a similar object and concurrently
maintained an intention for the distant participant to focus well
on his or her object and remain free from mental distractions
and thus be better equipped to succeed in the attentional
task.’
12
During control periods the helpers occupied their
minds with other matters. Overall, 16 1-minute periods took
place and 60 participants showed on average 13.6 button
1
Academic Section Evaluation Research in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, University Medical Center Freiburg, Freiburg,
Germany.
2
Institute of Transcultural Health Sciences, Europe University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany.
3
Brain, Mind and Healing Program, Samueli Institute, Alexandria, VA.
THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE
Volume 18, Number 6, 2012, pp. 529–533
ª Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
DOI: 10.1089/acm.2011.0321
529
presses during control and 12.4 during help periods, respec-
tively. The difference was just significant ( p = 0.049).
This experiment was replicated by several groups. While
most of them conducted these experiments within a normal
University laboratory setting, one group set out to investigate
whether this task would also work in a non-Euro-American
culture by conducting several fieldlike experiments in Bali.
Since all of these AFFE studies were a replication of the
first one by Braud et al.
12
within a very strict protocol, the
current author set out to compile all data in a meta-analysis.
The present study objectives were (1) to compute an overall
effect size of all AFFE studies that can be identified, (2) to
check whether there are significant moderating variables
especially regarding the cultural differences between Bali
and Europe/United States, and (3) to compare the results of
this meta-analysis with the results of meta-analyses of two
other similar distant intention experiments.
Materials and Methods
Inclusion criteria
This study restricted analysis to experimental studies
applying the AFFE as described by Braud et al.
12
Included
were all studies that had completed their data collection by
November 2011. Also included were both published and
unpublished studies.
Literature search
Studies were identified by scanning the parapsychologic
literature since the publication of the first study in 1995 until
November 2011. Furthermore, reference lists of identified
studies were inspected and principal investigators involved
in this research were questioned (i.e., Caroline Watt and
Hoyt Edge).
Data extraction
Studies were coded and the following parameters were
extracted: publication type (journal, proceedings, not pub-
lished), number of sessions (N); duration of sessions; number
of experimental and control epochs; number of helpers;
number of helpees; relationship between helper and helpee;
mean number of button presses during experimental (i.e.,
helping) epochs; number of buttons pressed during control
epochs; t-values; and df of the t-test comparing help versus
control button presses, and p-values. All data relevant for
effect size calculation were double checked.
Effect size
All experimental data stemmed from within-subject de-
signs. All studies provide t-values stemming from a paired-
sample t-test comparing scores of the experimental and the
control condition. For each study, an effect-size d for the
difference between control and experimental condition was
calculated by the formula
ES(d) ¼
t
ffiffi
d
p
f
with df ¼ N-1
13
:
This is a d-type effect size that expresses the difference in a
metric of standard deviations. For each effect size d
i
the ac-
cording variance is estimated by
^
r
2
i
¼
1
N
i
which is the variance
of d
i
under the null hypothesis, and is a good approximation
for the variance of d
i
for small effect sizes.
Statistical model
At first, the database was checked for homogeneity (i.e.,
whether all between-study variance can be explained by
sampling error). This was done the by the Q-statistic.
14
However, this test is often criticized since its statistical power
is varying depending on the number of studies, between-
study variance, and similarity of study size.
15
For small
data sets as in this case, it is known to have only limited
power, and some statisticians recommend using a p-value of
0.10 in small samples.
16
An alternative measure of homoge-
neity is suggested by Higgins and Thompson.
17
Their pro-
posed measure I
2
indicates the proportion of the overall
between-study variance, which cannot be accounted for
by sampling error. I
2
can be calculated directly from the Q-
statistic.
17
Based on the results of the homogeneity analysis,
effect sizes can be combined by using either a fixed-effects
model or a random-effects model. In both cases, effect sizes
were integrated according to the formula provided by
Shadish and Haddock.
18
d ¼
+
k
i ¼1
w
i
d
i
+
k
i ¼1
w
i
The weighting factor w
i
was computed from the inverse of
the conditional variance v
i
of each study. Thus, for the fixed-
effects model the weighting factor w
i
for each study was N
i
.
For the random-effects model an additional variance term is
added in order to adjust for a hypothesized variation of the
true population parameter. This additional variance term was
calculated from the amount of variance in the distribution of
effect sizes, which couldn’t be accounted for by sampling er-
ror. This variance term is called ‘unexplained variance’ r
2
d
(for details on how to compute this term, see
18
). In this case, w
i
computes as the inverse of the sum of the estimated and the
unexplained variance: w
i
¼
1
r
2
d
þv
i
.
Results
Altogether, 12 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria
12,19–22
;
four of these experiments out of two reports*
,{
are not pub-
lished yet, and one was only published in a Proceedings
volume.
#
It was decided to also include unpublished exper-
iments since the field is relatively small and the authors
had confidence that almost all conducted studies will be
identified. Table 1 lists all studies including their main
characteristics.
*Edge, H., Suryani, L. K., Tiliopoulos, N., Bikker, A., and James, R.
Comparing Conscious and Physiological Measurements in a Cog-
nitive DMILS Study in Bali. Bial Grant 116-04. 2008.
{
Edge, H., Suryani, L. K., and Morris, R. L. Pursuing Psi in a Non-
EuroAmerican Culture: Behavioral DMILS in Bali. Bial Grant 127/02.
2007.
#
Brady, C. and Morris, R. L. Attention Focusing Facilitated
Through Remote Mental Interaction: A Replication and Exploration
of Parameters. 73-91. 1997. Durham, NC, The Parapsychological
Association. The Parapsychological Association 40th Annual Con-
vention. Proceedings of Presented Papers.
530 SCHMIDT
The essential experimental features are the same for all
these studies. In every study the task was operationalized in
keeping the attention on a candle for a helpee and a helper. All
sessions consisted of 16 1-minute periods in a randomized
sequence of eight control and eight help periods each, only the
2004 and the 2006 study by Hoyt Edge and colleagues applied
eight 2-minute periods (4 control and 4 help).
Eligible are only k = 11 of the 12 studies with overall
N = 576 session as in one of the two studies published in Watt
and Brady (2002), an artifact detected by the original inves-
tigators prevented the evaluation of the experiment.
The test of homogeneity yielded Q = 15.58 for the 11
studies. Q is v
2
distributed with df = k -1= 10, resulting in
p = 0.11. With r
2
d
= 0.01, there remains some variance unex-
plained by sampling error. The computation of I
2
yielded
I
2
= 0.36, indicating that 36% of between-study variation
cannot be attributed to sampling error. With a conservative
significant level of p = 0.10 for the Q-test and 36% of variance
unexplained, the fixed-effects model was therefore not used.
Next, moderating variables to account for the between-study
variation were assessed. The effect of publication status (pub-
lished versus unpublished) and cultural context (Bali versus
Western) was tested, but no significant differences were found.
Thus, it was decided to apply a random-effects model.
This resulted in an overall weighted mean effect size of
d = 0.11 ( p = 0.03, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.01–0.22). The
results are very close to the fixed-effects model (d = 0.11,
p = 0.01, 95% CI 0.03–0.19).
Edge, Suryani, and Morris* have already noted that in the
Balinese studies, participants showed significantly fewer
button presses in both conditions. Table 2 gives an overview
on the mean button presses for both conditions in each study.
In order to test the effect of culture on the frequency of
button presses independently of the experimental condition,
a repeated-measurement analysis of variance was performed
with the within-subject factor condition (help versus control)
and the between-subject factor culture. Both factors showed a
significant main effect. The frequency of button presses was
significantly different depending on the condition (F = 6.21,
df = 1/9, p = 0.03) and the culture (F = 68.03, df = 1/9,
p < 0.001); the interaction of these two was not significant. In
order to illustrate this effect, an average rate of button
presses per minute for both cultural settings was calculated.
This was 0.35 for experiments in Bali and 1.69 for experi-
ments in the United States or the United Kingdom.
Discussion
A meta-analysis was performed on a set of 11 studies with
576 single sessions on the question of whether the attentional
performance of a participant varies in relation to the support
by a remote person. The studies themselves were of re-
markable similarity in their methodological approach.
Thus, all studies can be considered to be direct replications
23
of each other and they form an ideal data-set for a meta-
analysis. Nevertheless, the distribution of the effect sizes
showed more variation than expected by sampling error.
While statistical indices of homogeneity still made a fixed-
effects model possible, a more conservative approach was
taken by applying a random-effects model. A small (d = 0.11)
but significant effect size was found ( p = 0.03). However, the
dismissed fixed-effects model resulted in the same effect size
and only a little lower p-value ( p = 0.01).
A clear difference could be seen in the amount of button
presses between the studies conducted in Indonesia com-
pared to the ones conducted in the United States and in the
United Kingdom. Participants in the Western world pressed
the buttons almost five times more often than participants in
Indonesia. There are several hypotheses regarding the causes
of this striking difference, but they all rely on the basic in-
terpretation of a cultural difference. Balinese and Westerners
may differ in their threshold for judging mind wandering, in
their level of being embarrassed to concede mind wandering,
or even in their capability to maintain the focus.
Overall variation as well as variation due to culture in
this sample of effect sizes may be due to several sources.
Unfortunately, the sample is too small to have a sufficient
statistical power for more extensive moderator analyses.
Table 1. Attention Focusing Facilitation Experiments,
with Year of Publication (or Year the Experiment
Took Place if Unpublished)
Study authors Year N sessions t-Value pd
Braud et al. 1995 60 2.002 0.05 0.26
Brady & Morris 1997 40 1.775 0.08 0.28
Watt & Brady
a
2002/1 60
Watt & Brady 2002/2 60 - 0.823 0.41 - 0.11
Watt & Baker 2002 80 1.040 0.30 0.12
Watt & Ramakers 2003 36 2.085 0.04 0.35
Edge et al. 2001 35 2.16 0.04 0.37
Edge et al. 2002 53 2.24 0.03 0.31
Edge et al.
b
2003 40 0.44 0.66 0.07
Edge et al.
b
2004 69 0.61 0.54 0.07
Edge et al.
b
2005 60 - 1.27 0.21 - 0.17
Edge et al.
b
2006 43 - 1.11 0.27 - 0.17
p-Values are two-tailed.
a
Not included in meta-analysis.
b
Not published.
Table 2. Mean Button Presses for the
Conditions ‘Help’ and ‘No Help’
Culture
Button
presses
(help)
Button
presses
(no help)
Braud et al. Western 12.43 13.6
Brady & Morris Western 18.45 19.6
Watt & Brady Western 12.58 12.2
Watt & Baker Western 10.35 10.76
Watt & Ramakers Western 12.03 13.47
Edge et al. Bali 2.06 2.8
Edge et al. Bali 2.26 2.81
Edge et al. Bali 2.5 2.6
Edge et al. Bali 2.91 3.07
Edge et al. Bali 2.75 2.45
Edge et al. Bali 3.65 3.26
Both conditions had an overall length of 8 minutes.
*Edge, H., Suryani, L. K., and Morris, R. L. Pursuing Psi in a Non-
EuroAmerican Culture: Behavioral DMILS in Bali. Bial Grant 127/02.
2007.
REMOTE HELPING 531
Interesting variables in this respect would be, for example,
geocosmic indices, such as local sidereal time, reflecting the
earth’s alignment toward the cosmic background, or fluctu-
ations in the geomagnetic field. Earlier studies regarding
anomalous cognition effects have provided some correla-
tional evidence for these measures.
24,25
Overall, these results are in some sense remarkable, as
they demonstrate a significant effect in a meta-analysis that
cannot be explained by any current theoretical conception.
On the other hand, one needs to consider that the results
have a significant p-level of p = 0.03. One or two more neg-
ative studies could move the p-value over the somewhat
arbitrary demarcation line of 0.05 and thus result in a dif-
ferent interpretation.
Here it might be interesting to note that AFFE experiments
are part of a larger series of distant intentionality experi-
ments, which are also known by the acronym DMILS (direct
mental interaction in living systems).
26–28
The two most
frequently conducted other setups are called EDA-DMILS
and Remote Staring.InanEDA-DMILS experiment one par-
ticipant tries to activate or calm another participant from a
distance, and the electrodermal activity (EDA) of the latter
one is measured as dependent variable. For the analysis,
calming and activation epochs are compared. More than 45
studies of this kind were conducted. In the Remote Staring
experiments, 1 participant is able to stare at another partic-
ipant from a distance by means of a CCTV system. Here the
dependent variable is also the overall physiologic arousal
measured by the EDA of the staree; the control condition are
epochs where the starer is turning his or her attention away.
These two setups are different from AFFE with respect to
the dependent variable (physiologic versus behavioral) and
also regarding the precise task of the remote person (to ac-
tivate versus to stare versus to help). On the other hand, they
share many features that are, among others: (1) a 2-person
effort, (2) a remote person performs an intentional task, (3)
the dependent variable is measured on the other person, and
(4) operationalization by two types of epochs that are ran-
domized. In 2004, a meta-analysis of all EDA-DMILS and
Remote Staring studies found small but significant effects
for both experimental set-ups.
29
These can be compared to
the findings reported here, and the results of all three meta-
analyses can be seen in Table 3.
It is interesting to note that all three meta-analyses share
almost the same effect size, around d = 0.11–0.13. So after per-
forming similar tasks in an almost identical experimental de-
sign, the overall results of 62 different studies with 1970 single
trials converge to a significant effect size in the area of a tenth of
a standard deviation. This correspondence can be seen as a
mutual validation of these three databases and thus serves as a
strong underpinning of the meta-analysis reported here.
Furthermore, if one assumes that the effect sizes of the three
independent meta-analyses do reflect the same true effect, one
can speculate about its nature based on the similarities and
differences of the three experimental set-ups. In this sense, the
type of dependent variable (physiologic versus behavioral)
seems to be of no importance. Also, the specific task seems not
to be relevant. This leaves us with two features that might be
relevant for this finding. One is the design of these experi-
ments; the other one is the intentional component of the task.
Regarding the former, it has to be acknowledged that all trials
followed the same basic idea, which is a randomized sequence
of experimental and control epochs. Based on a conservative
approach, it is necessary to investigate whether such a design
can in some way generate an artifact that is responsible for the
findings. Indeed, there are some difficulties regarding the
randomization sequence of the epochs. In order to avoid
natural trends (e.g., tiredness) to create artifacts, the experi-
mental and control epochs have to be distributed evenly over
the entire session (for a more detailed discussion see
2
).
However, only in the very first four studies this potential ar-
tifact was not recognized and thus not prevented by coun-
terbalancing. Accordingly, these studies were removed from
the EDA-DMILS meta-analysis (see
29
). Besides, there may be
more problems with this design not yet discovered. This
seems to be unlikely, taking into account the number of dif-
ferent investigators and laboratories all over the world, but of
course can never be ruled out.
The other hypothesis is that the effect is due to the inten-
tional task of the remote person. If the specificity of task (i.e.,
helping, activating, or staring) is not of importance, we are left
with the intentional component toward the remote person. In
all these experiments, the active person is intentionally relat-
ing to the other person in some prescribed manner. It may be
precisely this intentional orientation and relation that is re-
sponsible for the findings reported here. If this is true, then
positively relating to others from a distance has a small effect.
One can think of several areas where such a distant inten-
tion effect is at work. One area is the already mentioned field
of (distant) spiritual healing (intercessory prayer, distant
healing). The present results support the existence of a basic
relationship between positive intentions on one side and a
positive outcome on the other. Furthermore, if intention
matters even from a distance, this also has implications for
health care. While the beneficial effects of a positive attitude in
health care and nursing were already addressed,
30
one might
now also consider that the positive effects of such an attitude
are maintained even when a direct interaction is not taking
place anymore. A third and different area applies to medita-
tion performance. The task of the experiment to maintain the
attention on one object and to return to it, whenever the mind
wanders away, is one of the most basic processes practiced in
many different types of meditation. Learning to maintain the
attention for some time on a focus is a necessary condition for
many other meditation techniques (e.g., for mindfulness
meditation). Interestingly, many meditators report having
more stable attention when meditating in a group compared
to practicing alone (also called Sangha effect). While this
might be explained by a conventional psychologic mecha-
nism, there might also be an additional component through
some type of distant intention effect. This is especially true if
Table 3. Results from Three Meta-Analyses
on Distant Intention Effects
Experiment kN d p 95 % CI
DMILS 36 1015 0.106 0.001 0.043–0.169
Remote Staring 15 379 0.128 0.013 0.027–0.229
AFFE 11 576 0.114 0.029 0.011–0.217
k, number of studies; N, number of sessions; d, mean effect size; p,
according p-value; 95% CI, 95% confidence interval of mean effect
size; DMILS, direct mental interaction with living systems; AFFE,
attention focusing facilitation experiment.
532 SCHMIDT
the positive intentions of the meditation are emphasized not
only for oneself, but, as is often done, also for others.
Conclusions
If the data reported here are not due to some artifact in the
design of distant intention experiments, it may be concluded
that under some circumstances persons can intentionally inter-
act or connect from a distance with each other, although this
effect may be very limited in size and power. More specific
research is needed in order to confirm or refute such an unor-
thodox claim. Overall, if the data of this study hold true, this
might have some implications for the areas of nursing and
health care, distant healing, as well as group meditation practice.
Acknowledgment
Stefan Schmidt was supported by the Samueli Institute,
Alexandria, VA, during the time this study was conducted. I
am also thankful to Harald Walach and Hoyt Edge for help
with this project.
Disclosure Statement
No competing financial interests exist.
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27. Braud WG, Schlitz MJ. A methodology for objective study of
transpersonal imagery. J Sci Explor 1989;3:43–63.
28. Schmidt S. Direct mental interaction with living systems
(DMILS). In: Jonas WB, Crawford CC, eds. Healing, Inten-
tion and Energy Medicine: Research and Clinical Implica-
tions. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2003:23–38.
29. Schmidt S, Schneider R, Utts JM, et al. Distant intentionality
and the feeling of being stared at: Two meta-analyses. Br J
Psychol 2004;95:235–247.
30. Quinn JF, Smith M, Ritenbaugh C, et al. Research guidelines
for assessing the impact of the healing relationship in clinical
nursing. Altern Ther Health Med 2003;9:A65–A79.
Address correspondence to:
Stefan Schmidt, PhD
Academic Section Evaluation Research
in Complementary and Alternative Medicine
University Medical Center Freiburg
Breisacher Straße 115b
Freiburg 79106
Germany
E-mail: stefan.schmidt@uniklinik-freiburg.de
REMOTE HELPING 533
... On parle de guérison à distance ou de transmission d'intention de guérison (Distant Healing Intention [DHI]), ainsi que de thérapies de guérison à distance (Distant Healing Therapy [DHT]). Cette thématique ancienne a donné lieu à de nombreuses recherches depuis les vingt dernières années dans le monde scientifique anglo-saxon (Benor, 1995 ;Graysom, 1996 ;Braud, 2003, Schlitz, 2014Roé et al., 2012 ;Pagliaro et al., 2017) et des travaux globaux et exhaustifs sur la littérature scientifique de ce domaine ont montré que malgré l'aspect atypique ou exceptionnel de ce type de soins qui bien souvent entraîne moults controverses chez les chercheurs, cet objet d'étude est très sérieux et mérite d'être approfondi au regard d'un grand nombre de recherches soulignant le potentiel d'efficacité de la guérison à distance sur la santé (Radin et al., 2015 ;Schmidt, 2012). En France, l'intérêt des chercheurs est plus timide sur cette question en raison des difficultés de mettre en oeuvre ce type de recherches expérimentales. ...
... Initier le débat sur cette question est important dans un contexte où les patients sont souvent perdus et seul face à la somme de lecture vulgarisée dans ce domaine. Nous soulignons enfin le fait que cette étude a également pour ambition première de mettre en lumière les travaux de chercheurs anglo-saxons d'avant-garde sur ce domaine (Radin, 2006 ;Radin et al., 2006 ;Braud, 2003 ;Schmidt, 2012). vers un sujet B et cela indépendamment de la distance. ...
... La question a été traitée sous l'angle global des interactions mentales à distance avec des systèmes vivants (Distant Mental Interactions with Living Systems-DMILS) (Radin et al., 2015). Trois variantes de protocoles DMILS ont été étudiées (Schmidt et al., 2004 ;Schmidt, 2012 ;Bosch et al., 2006 ;Radin et al., 2006 ;Storm et al., 2010) : (1) des études portant sur l'influence de l'intention d'un sujet A sur l'état physiologique d'un sujet B, appelées expériences d'« intention à distance » (le cas classique de la prière d'intercession la plus fortement étudiées dans les DHT), (2) des études portant sur l'influence de l'attention d'un sujet A sur l'état physiologique d'un sujet B tandis que A regarde B sur une liaison vidéo unidirectionnelle, également appelées expériences d' « observation à distance », et (3) des études portant sur l'influence de l'intention d'un sujet A sur l'attention ou le comportement d'un sujet B, appelées expériences « d'aide à distance ». ...
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The therapeutic approaches for transmitting the intention of healing (or care) at a distance such as prayer or certain forms of meditation have been studied for nearly forty years in the Anglo�Saxon literature, giving rise to numerous controlled researches and meta-analyzes. The results of these studies point to a large number of convincing works showing the effectiveness of these therapies by highlighting the non-local aspects of these approaches, which clash and pose a problem for the mechanistic and classical view of science. In the Anglo-Saxon world, and especially in the United States, patients use these approaches very strongly, especially in situations of great suffering. Because of this enthusiasm for these ancient healing techniques, the object of this article is to take stock of this question by identifying and making known on the one hand the key research in this field by highlighting the work of Ameri�cans researchers and on the other hand by developing the various method biases which are very numerous and which invite to relativize this effectiveness which, without calling it into question, should allow better study of this legitimate research subject, to finally allow to identify an embryonic conceptual framework in the light of research in physics and psychology and explanatory tracks. Les approches thérapeutiques de transmission d’intention de guérison (ou de soins) à distance, comme par exemple la prière ou certaines formes de méditation sont étudiées depuis près de quarante ans dans la littérature anglo-saxonne et ont donné lieu à de nombreuses recherches contrôlées et de méta-analyses. Les résultats de ces études font état d’un grand nombre de travaux probants montrant l’efficacité de ces thérapies en soulignant les aspects non locaux de ces approches, qui heurtent et posent problème à la vision mécaniste et classique de la science. Dans le monde anglo-saxon, et surtout aux États-Unis, les patients utilisent très fortement ces approches, surtout dans des situations de grande souffrance. En raison de cet engouement pour ces techniques de guérison ancienne, l’objet de cet article est de faire le point sur cette question en identifiant et en faisant connaître, d’une part, les recherches clés dans ce domaine en mettant en exergue les travaux des chercheurs américains. D’autres part, il s’agit de développer les différents biais de méthodes qui sont très nombreux et qui invitent à relativiser cette efficacité qui, sans la remettre en question doit permettre de mieux étudier cet objet de recherche légitime, pour permettre enfin dans une dernière partie de dégager un cadre conceptuel embryonnaire à la lumière des recherches en physique et en psychologie et des pistes explicatives.
... Embodied Sensations refer to particular sensations, like heat or cold, goosebumps, smells, visions, tastes, sounds, dizziness, or tingles/vibrations/electricity, alerting the person that they are accessing noetic information. The body as a receiver or sensor of noetic information is well-known and studied (Radin and Pierce, 2015), with meta-analyses of independently conducted experiments demonstrating significant and replicable results (Schmidt et al., 2004;Schmidt, 2012Schmidt, , 2015. Multiple studies of one experimental paradigm where one person (the sender) alternates between sending and not sending their focused, positive intention toward another distant person (the receiver) have shown differences in the receiver's physiology between the two conditions in a variety of multiple physiological measures, such as fMRI (Achterberg et al., 2005) and EEG . ...
... Research has shown that human intention can increase the probability of specific desired outcomes in the physical world. Examples include random number generator output (Schmidt, 2012) and plant growth (Shiah et al., 2017). The nuances of these mind-matter interactions have been explored (Schmidt, 1987;Kennedy, 1995;Radin, 2006), with much still to learn about how and why mind-matter interactions work. ...
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Noetic comes from the Greek word noēsis, meaning inner wisdom or direct knowing. Noetic experiences often transcend the perception of our five senses and are ubiquitous worldwide, although no instrument exists to evaluate noetic characteristics both within and between individuals. We developed the Noetic Signature Inventory (NSI) through an iterative qualitative and statistical process as a tool to subjectively assess noetic characteristics. Study 1 developed and evaluated a 175-item NSI using 521 self-selected research participants, resulting in a 46-item NSI with an 11-factor model solution. Study 2 examined the 11-factor solution, construct validity, and test–retest reliability, resulting in a 44-item NSI with a 12-factor model solution. Study 3 confirmed the final 44-item NSI in a diverse population. The 12-factors were: (1) Inner Knowing, (2) Embodied Sensations, (3) Visualizing to Access or Affect, (4) Inner Knowing Through Touch, (5) Healing, (6) Knowing the Future, (7) Physical Sensations from Other People, (8) Knowing Yourself, (9) Knowing Other’s Minds, (10) Apparent Communication with Non-physical Beings, (11) Knowing Through Dreams, and (12) Inner Voice. The NSI demonstrated internal consistency, convergent and divergent content validity, and test–retest reliability. The NSI can be used for the future studies to evaluate intra- and inter-individual variation of noetic experiences.
... These studies have typically used measures such as electrodermal activity (Braud and Schlitz, 1983;Radin et al., 2008), electroencephalography (EEG) activity (Standish et al., 2004;Richards et al., 2005), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (Standish et al., 2003;Achterberg et al., 2005). To date, there have been three meta-analyses for this class of studies, with each reporting statistically significant outcomes (Schmidt et al., 2004;Schmidt, 2012Schmidt, , 2015. Using this experimental paradigm, researchers discovered that the prior beliefs of the investigators were an important element in the observed outcomes. ...
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The nature of consciousness is considered one of science’s most perplexing and persistent mysteries. We all know the subjective experience of consciousness, but where does it arise? What is its purpose? What are its full capacities? The assumption within today’s neuroscience is that all aspects of consciousness arise solely from interactions among neurons in the brain. However, the origin and mechanisms of qualia (i.e., subjective or phenomenological experience) are not understood. David Chalmers coined the term “the hard problem” to describe the difficulties in elucidating the origins of subjectivity from the point of view of reductive materialism. We propose that the hard problem arises because one or more assumptions within a materialistic worldview are either wrong or incomplete. If consciousness entails more than the activity of neurons, then we can contemplate new ways of thinking about the hard problem. This review examines phenomena that apparently contradict the notion that consciousness is exclusively dependent on brain activity, including phenomena where consciousness appears to extend beyond the physical brain and body in both space and time. The mechanisms underlying these “non-local” properties are vaguely suggestive of quantum entanglement in physics, but how such effects might manifest remains highly speculative. The existence of these non-local effects appears to support the proposal that post-materialistic models of consciousness may be required to break the conceptual impasse presented by the hard problem of consciousness.
... I. Radin et al., 2008), electroencephalography (EEG) activity Standish et al., 2004), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (Achterberg et al., 2005;Standish et al., 2003). To date, there have been three meta-analyses for this class of studies, with each reporting statistically significant outcomes (Schmidt, 2012(Schmidt, , 2015Schmidt et al., 2004). Using this experimental paradigm, researchers discovered that the prior beliefs of the investigators were an important element in the observed outcomes. ...
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The nature of consciousness is considered one of the most perplexing and persistent mysteries in science. We all know the subjective experience of consciousness, but where does it arise? What is its purpose? What are its full capacities? The assumption within today’s neuroscience is that all aspects of consciousness arise solely from interactions among neurons in the brain. However, the origin and mechanisms of qualia (i.e., subjective or phenomenological experience) are not understood. David Chalmers coined the term “the hard problem” to describe the difficulties in elucidating the origins of subjectivity from the point of view of reductive materialism. We propose that the hard problem arises because one or more assumptions within a materialistic worldview are either wrong or incomplete. If consciousness entails more than the activity of neurons, then we can contemplate new ways of thinking about the hard problem. This review examines phenomena that apparently contradict the notion that consciousness is exclusively dependent on brain activity, including phenomena where consciousness appears to extend beyond the physical brain and body in both space and time. The mechanisms underlying these “nonlocal” properties are vaguely suggestive of quantum entanglement in physics, but how such effects might manifest remains highly speculative. The existence of these nonlocal effects appears to support the proposal that post-materialistic models of consciousness may be required to break the conceptual impasse presented by the hard problem of consciousness.
... To clarify, meta-analysis is a statistical approach that combines the results from multiple studies to increase power (over individual studies), improve estimates of the size of empirical effects, and to resolve uncertainty when reports disagree. Several meta-analyses have been published in both niche and mainstream journals documenting potentially non-local effects related to human consciousness (e.g., Bem, 2011;Bem & Honorton, 1994;Honorton et al., 1992;Mossbridge et al., 2012;Mossbridge & Radin, 2018;Sarraf et al., 2020;Schmidt, 2012;Storm & Tressoldi, 2017;Tressoldi & Storm, 2021). However, this litera-132 JOURNAL OF SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION • VOL. ...
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The idea of ‘life after death’ transcends philosophy or religion, as science can test predictions from claims by both its advocates and skeptics. This study therefore featured two researchers with opposite views, who jointly gathered hundreds of research studies to evaluate the maximum average percentage effect that seemingly supports (i.e., anomalous effects) or refutes (i.e., known confounds) the survival hypothesis. The mathematical analysis found that known confounds did not account for 39% of survival-related phenomena that appear to attest directly to human consciousness continuing in some form after bodily death. Thus, we concluded that popular skeptical explanations are presently insufficient to explain a sizable portion of the purported evidence in favor of survival. People with documented experiences under conditions that overcome the known confounds thus arguably meet the legal requirements for expert witness testimony. The equation that led to our verdict can also purposefully guide future research, which one day might finally resolve this enduring question scientifically. Keywords: anomalous experience, empiricism, paranormal belief, probability, survival
... To clarify, meta-analysis is a statistical approach that combines the results from multiple studies to increase power (over individual studies), improve estimates of the size of empirical effects, and to resolve uncertainty when reports disagree. Several meta-analyses have been published in both niche and mainstream journals documenting potentially non-local effects related to human consciousness (e.g., Bem & Honorton, 1994;Honorton et al., 1992;Mossbridge et al., 2012;Mossbridge & Radin, 2018;Sarraf et al., 2020;Schmidt, 2012;Storm & Tressoldi, 2017;Tressoldi & Storm, 2021). However, this litera-132 JOURNAL OF SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION • VOL. ...
... Others have noted that our bodies are physically sensitive to others' mental intentions (Radin & Pierce, 2015). Meta-analyses of dozens of independently conducted experiments of this type have shown that when a sender directs their attention toward a distant person, it does influence the receiver's physiological state (Schmidt, 2012(Schmidt, , 2015Schmidt et al., 2004). Telesomatic experiences, described as typically unhealthy or harmful physical symptoms shared by people at a distance, have also been evaluated (Dossey, 1994(Dossey, , 1995(Dossey, , 2008b(Dossey, , 2016Mann & Jaye, 2007;Neppe, 1984;Schwarz, 1967Schwarz, , 1973. ...
Article
The term “noetic” comes from the Greek word noēsis/noētikos that means inner wisdom, direct knowing, intuition, or implicit understanding. Strong cultural taboos exist about sharing these experiences. Thus, many may not feel comfortable transparently discussing or researching these topics, despite growing evidence that these experiences may be real. The study’s objective was to qualitatively evaluate first-hand accounts of noetic experiences. 521 English-speaking adults from around the world completed an online survey that collected demographic data and four open-ended questions about noetic experiences. Thematic analysis was used to characterize the data. The ten most used codes were expressing to or sharing with others, impacting decision-making, intuition/”just knowing,” meditation/hypnosis, inner visions, setting intentions/getting into the “state,” healing others, writing for self, and inner voice. There were five main themes identified: 1. Ways of Engagement; 2. Ways of Knowing; 3. Types of Information; 4. Ways of Affecting; and 5. Ways of Expressing. Subthemes. Future research will include investigating the nuances of these themes and also establishing standardized methods for evaluating them. This would also then inform curricula and therapies to support people in these experiences.
... focused on the question of whether a participant can mentally influence small-scale biological targets such as cell cultures, electrodermal activity, shifts in human attention, plant growth, and animal locomotion (Braud, 2003;Delanoy, 2001). Meta-analyses of these experiments do tend to show a small but significant overall effect (Roe et al., 2015;S. Schmidt, 2012;Schmidt et al., 2004), which may provide a possible basis for conceptualizing ostensible psychic healing. One question which arises in the latter context is: Do these biological PK and ostensible healing effects involve a similar (if not the same) kind of ostensible influence process as PK effects upon physical targets? One reason for co ...
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... n of whether a participant can mentally influence small-scale biological targets such as cell cultures, electrodermal activity, shifts in human attention, plant growth, and animal locomotion (Braud, 2003;Delanoy, 2001). Meta-analyses of these experiments do tend to show a small but significant overall effect (Roe et al., 2015;Schlitz & Braud, 1997;S. Schmidt, 2012;Schmidt et al., 2004), which may provide a possible basis for conceptualizing ostensible psychic healing. One question which arises in the latter context is: Do these biological PK and ostensible healing effects involve a similar (if not the same) kind of ostensible influence process as PK effects upon physical targets? One reason for co ...
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Many experiments have been conducted over the past eight decades to explore whether the ostensible psychic ability of psychokinesis (PK, or "mind over matter") might be a genuine human potential, and the most extensive of these have involved attempts to mentally influence the output of electronic, binary-bit random number generators (RNGs). Research of this type can generally be divided into two lines: proof-oriented (concerned with the accumulation and statistical evaluation of data from controlled experiments designed specifically to test for the presence of PK effects on the microscopic scale) and process-oriented (concerned with conducting exploratory experiments designed to systematically vary certain test conditions in order to search for and identify any physical, biological, and psychological factors which might have a role in improving or moderating PK effects). To help orient novice investigators and cross-disciplinary researchers who may be considering work along these lines (as well as offer some initial guiding insight on possible directions for future research), this paper provides a general review of some of the notable proof- and process-oriented findings that have been obtained to date in experimental microscopic PK research using RNGs. The review generally indicates that although a considerable amount of proof-oriented data for micro-PK has accumulated over the years, the relatively sparse amount of process-oriented data available at present leaves a lot of open questions regarding the underlying factors involved, providing ample opportunity for novice investigators and cross-disciplinary researchers to make valuable research contributions in the future.
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Correlations and predictive modeling tests were used to explore the possibility that some fraction of the daily fluctuations in casino gambling payout percentages might be due to periodic variations in average psi abilities in the general population. The study was based upon examination of four years of daily gaming data from a Las Vegas casino. Payout percentages were predicted to be positively correlated with lunar cycle and with gravitational tidal forces, and negatively correlated with the planetary geomagnetic field flux. Nearly significant correlations were observed for lunar c ycle and geomagnetic field, and significant correlations were observed for tidal forces. These results are consistent with previous research indicating that some environmental factors may be related to predictable variations in psi performance. Artificial neural network and abductive network techniques were used to successfully predict casino payout percentages based on seven daily environmental variables.
Article
The investigation of heterogeneity is a crucial part of any meta-analysis. While it has been stated that the test for heterogeneity has low power, this has not been well quantified. Moreover the assumptions of normality implicit in the standard methods of meta-analysis are often not scrutinized in practice. Here we simulate how the power of the test for heterogeneity depends on the number of studies included, the total information (that is total weight or inverse variance) available and the distribution of weights among the different studies. We show that the power increases with the total information available rather than simply the number of studies, and that it is substantially lowered if, as is quite common in practice, one study comprises a large proportion of the total information. We also describe normal plots that are useful in assessing whether the data conform to a fixed effect or random effects model, together with appropriate tests, and give an application to the analysis of a multi-centre trial of blood pressure reduction. We conclude that the test of heterogeneity should not be the sole determinant of model choice in meta-analysis, and inspection of relevant normal plots, as well as clinical insight, may be more relevant to both the investigation and modelling of heterogeneity. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
Two studies explored how participants' beliefs about their experimenter's psi research track record might affect their responses on questionnaire measures of belief in psi, confidence of success at a psi task, perceived and actual success at the psi task, and evaluations of the experimenter. Participants (60 in each study) were allocated to either a positive expectancy or a negative expectancy condition. The psi task was remote facilitation of focusing of attention. The authors predicted fewer distractions on the focusing task during help periods compared with control periods and that positive expectancy participants would have greater psi scores than negative expectancy participants. Because of a computer artifact, psi results could not be reported for Study 1. Study 2 found no indication of remote facilitation of attention focusing and no difference between psi scores in the positive compared with the negative expectancy condition. In both studies, positive expectancy participants consistently gave more positive experimenter evaluations than negative expectancy participants; this trend was statistically significant for ratings of the experimenter's ability to instill confidence in the task for both studies combined. The article describes the discovery of the artifact in Study 1 and relates this to the question of experimenter effects.
Article
Eighty individuals took part in a study in which a single experimenter made either psi-supportive or psi-unsupportive suggestions prior to administering questionnaire measures and a psi task. The psi task was remote facilitation of attention focusing, with the dependent variable the participant's self-reported number of distractions during Help epochs compared with Control epochs while focusing on a lit candle. During Help epochs, a remote individual also focused on a lit candle and maintained the mental intention to help the participant have fewer distractions than during Control epochs. Questionnaire measures were taken of participants' psi belief, confidence, expected success, perceived success, and quality of focusing. Participants also rated the experimenter's warmth, professionalism, ability to instil confidence in the task, and belief in psi. No overall remote facilitation of focusing was found, nor was there any difference between positive vs. negative suggestion groups on their psi performance. The groups differed on many of the questionnaire measures, including psi belief, confidence, expected and perceived success, quality of focusing, and experimenter ratings. The results point to an effect of the experimenter's psi-supportive and psi-unsupportive suggestions on many of the psychological measures taken but no effects of suggestion on the psi task.
Article
This article reports the 4th study in a series investigating experimenter effects with a remote facilitation of attention focusing psi task. The "helpee" focuses attention on a candle and presses a button whenever he or she feels distracted. Simultaneously, the remote "helper" follows a randomised counterbalanced schedule of "help" and "control" periods. It was predicted that the helpee would have fewer distractions during the help periods compared with the control periods. Nine psi believers and 5 disbelievers were trained to conduct a psi session and then conducted 36 psi trials in total. It was predicted that participants tested by believer experimenters would show greater remote facilitation of focusing than those tested by disbelievers. Questionnaires measured participants' paranormal belief, expected and perceived success at the psi task, experimenter ratings, and experimenters' personality and cognitive ability. Overall, there were significantly fewer help presses than control presses, indicating an effect of remote facilitation on the focusing task. Participants tested by believer experimenters had higher scores on the psi task than those tested by disbeliever experimenters, indicating an experimenter effect. There were no differences between participants or experimenters on the questionnaire measures.