Several researchers, including myself, have observed correlations between geomagnetic activity and reports of paranormal phenomena. A blog by Dr. M.A. Persinger.
Question: It has been said that your work on the effects of geomagnetic variables on paranormal phenomena “has not been replicated”. Is this true?
Answer: No; Our results have been replicated repeatedly.
Confused claims that my work (on the effects of geomagnetic influences on paranormal phenomena) has not been replicated are based on the mistaken belief that its based on experiments. Instead, the results are based on statistical analyses (replication procedures are for experiments) correlating a wide range of data with geomagnetic states. To validate a statistical study, one has only to obtain the data, and perform the calculations.
The “geomagnetic effect” has been found in a variety of anecdotal data throughout recorded history. The experimental dream psi studies from Ullmann and Krippner (1970) were done almost 50 years ago.
For decades after that, groups of researchers, including myself and my colleagues, have investigated the contributions of the geomagnetic field to paranormal phenomena. Each working independently, we have replicated and extended one another’s work. There are a few differences in what we’ve found. Replication and significant convergences in results are commonplace in this field.
Spottiswoode (1997) reported that unusually high effect sizes may be observed in trials with anomalous cognition (PSI, ESP, etc) occurring during specific windows in sidereal time when geomagnetic fluctuations are also minimal. This confirms our finding that geomagnetic quiet is conducive to these kinds of experiences. The same author (1990) also reported negative correlations between scores in free response anomalous cognition experiments and geomagnetic fluctuations, confirmed in four datasets which showed significant anomalous cognition.
Adrian Ryan has explored the correlations we have seen between geophysical activity and hypothesized that ESP effects may be due to geomagnetic pulsations, a line of research that both replicates and extends some of our efforts (Ryan, 2008).
Researchers Haraldsson and Gissurarson (1987) studied the scores from 70 Ganzfeld sessions (telepathy-clairvoyance) and found they related significantly to high geomagnetic activity of the day prior to the experimental sessions but not to the geomagnetic activity during the day of the sessions. The same relationship was found in experiments which consisted mostly of 80 trials with clairvoyance computer games per subject. Their results partially confirmed our earlier findings (based on the Tectonic Strain Theory of paranormal events) that spontaneous paranormal experience tend to occur on a day of low geomagnetic activity which is preceded by days of high geomagnetic activity.
Lipniki (2009) replicated the geomagnetic effect without referring to psi effects in a case report where dreams from low geomagnetic activity periods were found to be significantly more bizarre than dreams from periods with high geomagnetic activity .
Another case history implies a strong correlation between sleep paralysis and geomagnetic quiet. Conesa (1995) reported that periods of relatively quiet geomagnetic activity were significantly associated with an increased incidence of sleep paralysis episodes, and also (Conesa, 1997) dream vividness. Moturi et al., (2013) also noted correlations between geomagnetic states and sleep paralysis.
In a study done during the quietest geomagnetic year in a century, small correlations were found with male subjects, who showed higher psi scores when the geomagnetic field was more active. However, in confirmation of our results, the participants with the highest temporal lobe questionnaire scores showed the strongest correlation of psi with geomagnetic activity (Roney-Dougal, 2014). This corroborates our early finding that PSI effects are most probable during times of geomagnetic quiet. We have published several papers showing this effect, including a meta-analysis spanning 60 years of studies (Berger, 1991). It also replicates our result that Temporal Lobe Signs are higher for people reporting PSI skills and experiences. (Persinger, 1990)
The “geomagnetic” effect as inferred from solar wind velocity was reported by Randall and Randall (1991), who examined data from the 19th century on hallucinations and magnetic disturbances. These were found to exhibit a direct and statistically significant correlation. It’s easy to see how this corroborates our work correlating geomagnetic activity with paranormal, PSI, ESP and other anomalous experiences when we recall that changes in solar winds are one of the primary sources for geomagnetic variations.
Our work with the effects of elevated magnetic field strengths (rather than geomagnetic activity) has been replicated by JJ Braithwaite (2004), who reported that That “the overall magnetic field strength (amplitude) is greater at areas of interest [areas generating higher numbers of reports of paranormal perceptions] relative to baseline areas”. The same researcher (2005) observed the same effect in a “haunted bedroom”. This corroborated and extended of our results in it’s observation of “large static inhomogeneous magnetic field and complex temporal distortions in the time-varying (AC) magnetic fields”. We have seen (Persinger, 1997) that similarly anisotropic structures within both the geomagnetic field and in our complex magnetic stimulation fields also contribute to their subjective effects.
Our work on the association between geomagnetic and paranormal phenomena has also been replicated by Roll (2000) who made recordings of the local geomagnetic fields (GMFs), electromagnetic fields (EMFs), and ion densities in putatively haunted locations. On the basis of previous studies he predicted that the sites would exhibit anomalous EMFs or GMFs. Ten out of twelve of the sites did show such anomalies.
It’s also worth noting that in addition to the paranormal and ESP effects noted above, the scientific literature includes many studies of the effects of geomagnetic activity on medical and psychiatric disorders and issues. These include stress (Rapoport, 1998 ), suicide (Berk, 2005), blood pressure (Dimitrova, 2004) psychiatric admissions (Raps, 1992), stroke (Feigin, 2014), changes in EEG profiles (Novik, 2013) and errors in performing laboratory tasks (Binhi, 2009). The geomagnetic field makes these effects more likely, but doesn’t cause them.
I hope this blog will clarify the value of studying geophysical influences on human cognition and health.
Dr. Michael A. Persinger
Behavioural Neuroscience, Biomolecular Sciences and Human Studies
Departments of Psychology and Biology
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada P3E 2C6
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
NOTE: This blog is hosted by a colleague.
REFERENCES (links open in new pages):
Ullman, Montague, and Stanley Krippner. “Dream studies and telepathy: An experimental approach”. No. 12. Parapsychology Foundation, 1970.
Roney-Dougal, Serena M., Ryan, Adrian , and Luke, David “THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LOCAL GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY AND PSYCHIC AWARENESS”, Journal of Parapsychology, 2014, 78(2), 235–254
Haraldsson, Erlendur; Gissurarson, Loftur R. “Does geomagnetic activity effect extrasensory perception? Personality and individual differences, 1987, v8 (n5):745-747
Ryan, Adrian. “New insights into the links between ESP and geomagnetic activity.” Journal of Scientific Exploration 22.3 (2008): 335-358.
Persinger, M.A.; Fisher, Susan; “Elevated, Specific Temporal lobe Signs in a Population Engaged in Psychic Studies”. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1990, 71, 817-818
Lipnicki DM. “An association between geomagnetic activity and dream bizarreness.” Medical Hypotheses. 2009 Jul;73(1):115-7.
Nishimura T, Tada H, Nakatani E, Matsuda K, Teramukai S, Fukushima M. “Stronger geomagnetic fields may be a risk factor of male suicides.” Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. 2014 Jun;68(6):404-9.
Gordon, Charmaine; Berk Michael “The effect of geomagnetic storms on suicide.” South African Psychiatry Review 2003;6:24-27
Spottiswoode, S. James P. “Geomagnetic fluctuations and free-response anomalous cognition: A new understanding.” Journal of Parapsychology 61.1 (1997): 3-12.[PDF] academia.edu
Berger R.E.; Persinger, M.A. “Geophysical variables and behavior: LXVII. Quieter annual geomagnetic Activity and effect Size for Experimental psi (ESP) studies over six decades”. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1991 Dec, v73 (n3, Pt2 Spec issue):1219-1223
Conesa J. “Relationship between isolated sleep paralysis and geomagnetic influences: a case study.” Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1995 Jun;80 (3 Pt 2):1263-73.
CONESA JORGE (1997) ISOLATED SLEEP PARALYSIS, VIVID DREAMS AND GEOMAGNETIC INFLUENCES: II. Perceptual and Motor Skills: Volume 85, Issue , pp. 579-584.
Moturi, Sricharan, and Poojitha Matta. “Recurrent Isolated Sleep Paralysis (RISP).” Parasomnias. Springer New York, 2013. 201-206.
Randall W, Randall S. “The solar wind and hallucinations—a possible relation due to magnetic disturbances.” Bioelectromagnetics. 1991;12(1):67-70.
Braithwaite, Jason J. “Magnetic variances associated with ‘haunt-type’experiences: a comparison using time-synchronised baseline measurements.” European Journal of Parapsychology 19 (2004): 3-28.
Braithwaite, Jason J., and Maurice Townsend. “Research Note: Sleeping With the Entity–A Quantitative Magnetic Investigation of an English Castle’s Reputedly ‘Haunted’Bedroom.” European Journal of Parapsychology 20 (2005): 65-78.
Persinger, Michael A. “Metaphors for the effects of weak, sequentially complex magnetic fields.” Perceptual and motor skills 85.1 (1997): 204-206.
Roll, W.G., & Nichols, A (2000) “Psychological and electromagnetic aspects of haunts.” Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association. 364-378.
Rapoport SI, Boldypakova TD, Malinovskaia NK, Oraevski? VN, Meshcheriakova SA, Breus TK, Sosnovski? AM. “Magnetic storms as a stress factor.” Biofizika [Biophysics]. 1998 Jul-Aug;43(4):632-9.
Berk M, Dodd S, Henry M. “Do ambient electromagnetic fields affect behaviour? A demonstration of the relationship between geomagnetic storm activity and suicide” Bioelectromagnetics. 2005 Nov 22;27(2):151-155
Raps A, Stoupel E, Shimshoni M. “Geophysical variables and behavior: LXIX. Solar activity and admission of psychiatric patients. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1992 Apr;74(2):449-50.
Dimitrova S, Stoilova I, Cholakov I. “Influence of local geomagnetic storms on arterial blood pressure.” Bioelectromagnetics. 2004 Sep;25(6):408-14.
Feigin VL(et al.) “Geomagnetic storms can trigger stroke: evidence from 6 large population-based studies in Europe and Australasia.” Stroke. 2014 Jun;45(6):1639-45.
Novik OB, Smirnov FA. “Geomagnetic storm decreases coherence of electric oscillations of human brain while working at the computer.” Biofizika (Biophysics). 2013 May-Jun;58(3):554-60
Binhi VN, Sarimov RM. “Zero magnetic field effect observed in human cognitive processes.” Electromagnetic and Biological Medicine. 2009;28(3):310-5.