Category: Anomalistic Experience

Investigating the Paranormal: Part II

Parascience has so far failed to produce a single repeatable finding and, until it does, will continue to be viewed as an incoherent collection of belief systems steeped in fantasy, illusion and error. Originally appeared in Nature Vol. 320, 13 March 1986, pp. 119-124.  The first part of this article is here. Psychological Factors Many …

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Psychology and the Paranormal

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” So the well-worn saying goes. Are there? If so, what are they? And how does one obtain solid evidence? These questions have taxed human beings for millennia. A zetetic approach I approach psychology and the paranormal  in a spirit …

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Improbability and Impossibility in Nature

The Science of the Impossible When the sun, moon and earth all fall into alignment, something improbable happens – a solar eclipse. A solar eclipse in improbable but it is not impossible, because it actually can happen. Not very often, of course, but on a few rare, predictable occasions. On average a solar eclipse occurs …

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Under the Wallpaper

One never really knows what might be under the wallpaper. Redecorating reveals secrets, a veritable archeology of habitation. When my parents sold up and bought a house about 50 years ago, they left few traces.  I often look down the street from the main road as I go past, to see if the place is …

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Reality or Illusion?

I have provided accounts of five striking coincidences over my lifetime. The five events individually have odds in the range 10-9  to 10-18.  What are the odds that all five coincidences could happen to one individual? To determine the probability of five independent events, A, B, C, D and E, all occurring, we need to multiply the probabilities …

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The Flying Horseshoe

A Mysterious Horse Shoe It is one of our cultural beliefs that horseshoes are lucky. Almost everybody knows it. Many respect it. There is a cottage industry around it. Almost every “olde worlde” pub and inn in Europe displays one or more horseshoes. Almost anybody who has had contact with horses, and many who have …

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Citizen 63 – Marion Knight

What I Missed Seeing It was 1963. I had played a minor role in a BBC documentary film “Marion Knight’ but had missed seeing it because I was travelling abroad. This was an era without video recorders or YouTube. If you missed something, you missed it, and that was that. The ‘Citizen 63’ series received critical praise. The …

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Coincidence or Luck?

How many striking coincidences can we expect in a single lifetime? Setting the bar high, let’s define ‘striking’ as a probability of less than one in a billion. I list here a few of my own. The first set of coincidences was an incredible run of luck while travelling as a student. I feel entitled …

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A New Ponzo Illusion

Most visual illusions are produced using carefully contrived drawings or gadgets to fool the visual system into thinking impossible things.  Recently,  waiting at a train station, I encountered a real-life Ponzo illusion. The Illusion The traditional form of the Ponzo illusion is produced by drawing a pair of receding railway lines. The context suggests different …

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Chilling

‘Murdered’ British backpacker Grace Millane, 22, made a chilling final Instagram post – featuring a skull painting and a quote about death. Grace, an advertising graduate and talented artist, is believed to have been killed between December 1 and 2, court documents show. A few weeks before her death, Grace, had uploaded her last post to …

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