Abstract Details

Computer Automated, Multi-center, Multi-blinded, Randomized Control Trial of Hypothesized Spirit Presence and Communication  Gary Schwartz (Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ )   C23

Few hypotheses are as fundamentally important to science and society as the survival of consciousness after physical death. Obtaining a definitive answer, positive or negative, would have deep significance for humanity. Converging research from multiple areas, including evidence from (1) near death experiences, (2) reincarnation in adults and children, and (3) multi-blinded mediumship experiments, each point to the plausibility of the survival of consciousness hypothesis. However, none of these research areas, by themselves, are sufficient to draw a firm conclusion. A new emerging area of research (4) investigating hypothesized spirit presence and communication using state-of-the-art technology provides additional, and potentially definitive evidence, especially when it is integrated with the other areas of survival of consciousness research.The gold standard in biomedical research is the multi-center, multi-blinded, randomized control trial (RCT). In pharmacological research the RCT is termed a Phase III clinical trial. This paper presents (1) core goals and RCT methods developed to investigate automated spirit presence and communication and (2) the findings from a large scale (n=1,280 sessions) demonstration experiment. The core goals are: (1) to create sensitive experimental conditions that optimize replication of the emerging findings (e.g. using experienced research mediums as well as research tested hypothesized spirit participants (HSPs) provided by the RCT), and thereby minimize false negative findings, and at the same time (2) employ appropriate control conditions (e.g. for blinding within and between laboratories) as well as safeguards for the integrity of the research (e.g. to remove the possibility, or the appearance, of fraud), thereby minimizing false positives.The author has developed a general purpose, completely computer automated software platform called AQUA W MC (Automated Query and Analysis / Webcam / Multi Center) that (1) presents auditory instructions plus slides, (2) collects 30 frames per second webcam images during baseline and task conditions, (3) calculates averaged task minus baseline delta images per trial, (4) displays incremental summary double delta images ((yes minus baseline) minus (no minus baseline)) for counterbalanced pairs of yes and no trials, and (5) at the end of a given session, automatically stores the summary images in a cybersecure cloud account. We have employed a version of an "I'm not a robot" cognitive understanding test that requires that subjects indicate whether a given image contains a section of a vehicle or not. Subjects make a yes or no responses by placing their hands either (1) above, or (2) on the sides of, a light tight box enclosing a commercially available five-inch plasma globe plus the AQUA W MC controlled webcam. The combined hardware plus software system is exquisitely sensitive. For HSP sessions, highly significant (p<.00001) yes versus no response differences are observed; furthermore, for matched no-HSP control sessions, no significant effects are observed.The RCT design and methods meet a phrase popularized by Carl Sagan: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." University affiliated investigators in established laboratories who regularly publish in peer reviewed journals, and are interested in collaborating in this RCT, are invited to contact the author.