The YouTube Project at the PF
Currently approaching 90 videos, the Parapsychology Foundation has been busy working hard this summer on the PF YouTube Channel. Back in the spring of 2015, PF President Lisette Coly set up a small committee — then comprised of herself, Anna Damalas, the Administrative Assistant of the PF, and Research Fellow Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone — to kick start the preparation of new and legacy video for the Channel. Research Fellow Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado was also brought in to apply his expertise on the field and his wide connections with its researchers and students to the development of online events and conferences for the PF. A little over a year later Lisette invited Gonçalo Veiga to join the Foundation as a Research Associate, adding him immediately to the YouTube Project team. Veiga brought his more extensive video experience to the group and for that both Anna and I are grateful for all the help he has given us in improving our audio and video editing skills. Since then we have all been moving forward, building upon our combined knowledge of the field and our enthusiasm for this project.
Like many YouTubers, we have all been learning other skills to better market the videos as they get uploaded. The PF’s goal is to make sure that everyone who is interested in the scientific study of psychic phenomena has access to some extraordinary content. As well as uploading our own efforts, the PF also wants to serve as a responsible reviewer of the videos uploaded by our colleagues and member organizations, so that our subscribers can find the best videos across YouTube about the phenomena, about research and theory, and by and about researchers, educators and experiencers. This second goal is in keeping with the traditional PF mission of serving as a clearinghouse for the best information from and about the scientific side of the field.
Extending the Community
The PF YouTube project is not only conceptualized as an opportunity for the PF to establish its amazing legacy at the center of the academic and scientific understanding of psychic experiences and phenomena, but also to provide service to the community of students, researchers, and experiencers who have a keen interest in the scientific side of the field.
Eileen J. Garrett, the Irish medium and entrepeneur who with the American congressman Frances P. Bolton founded the PF in 1951, was intellectually curious and very self-reflective about her own abilities. She not only volunteered her own time to psychical researchers and others with an interest in mediumship, extrasensory perception and the like, but she also looked for every way to support those who were working to solve the problems psychic phenomena raise. Back in the day Garrett and Bolton established face-to-face conferences to which they invited researchers and others, all expenses paid, and where, in addition to presenting their recent work and theory to a group of like-minded individuals, the attendees could meet and share their interests in a relaxing environment after each conference day. Although times have changed and such lavish events are no longer possible, Lisette Coly recognized that a shift to online events and conferences could accomplish some of the same goals while saving limited financial resources for more occasional onsite gatherings.
Taking advantage of the opportunities YouTube presents for everyone who wants to share their talents and expertise, the PF set its course towards making all of its unique materials available to the wider world, new and legacy, from within the confines of the Eileen J. Garrett Library, through the PF Lyceum Academy on the social media platform WizIQ, as well as through content developed to go directly to YouTube.
Success in this endeavor is measured by the community that grows up around work such as this. Students, event attendees, presenters and interviewees have all contributed to the vibrancy of the PF’s online and onsite events. We are especially grateful to those who participate in our various social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr. Comments on the PF’s YouTube pages have been much appreciated, as have the shares on social media and YouTube that serve to spread our work to an even broader audience. But, as a practical matter, as the Foundation moves along through these difficult financial times, we are also particularly grateful to subscribers whose views and likes all come together to keep the possibility of a future income stream from YouTube alive.
The Importance of Subscribing
As you’ve probably noticed most of the videos we’ve uploaded over the last two years carry intermittent advertisements from which we are building up YouTube income. A few months back, in a much needed push to eliminate truly negative and dangerous content, YouTube set up broad categories of topics that are now considered too controversial for monetization except on YouTube Red, the subscription service. We didn’t see any impact on our channel after that policy change, so we hoped YouTube was broad-minded enough to see parapsychology in a less controversial light than our critics see us. But it wasn’t that apparently, but rather a matter of time. Two of the last three videos we uploaded this past week were hit with this blanket, algorithm-driven restriction from advertising income.
YouTube is aware that its software solution to controversial and inappropriate content is probably too broad so they added a manual review feature. On the first two videos this policy impacted, we were able to get manual reviews with 24 hours that overturned the labeling of new PF content as too controversial for advertisers. However, now, probably because YouTube got overloaded by manual review requests, the policy changed again. When we uploaded the last video on this list, we requested a manual review and got a message saying that, until the video has 1000 views, the status will not be reviewed. While we’re hoping for another policy change to something less draconian, in the meantime sitting in manual review limbo has the potential of cutting our potential YouTube earnings by two-thirds.
Not to worry, we’re still going to push out the content we know you will enjoy no matter what. It’s just that because of the views threshold, we are feeling the need to increase the size of our community a bit quicker than we had planned.
So what can you do to help? If you have a YouTube account, subscribe to the Parapsychology Foundation channel and click the “bell” on the subscribe button to make sure you’re notified of new uploads. If you already have a YouTube account, check to make sure you have clicked that “bell” on the PF Channel. Whether or not you have a YouTube account, though, you can keep track of the PF’s YouTube content by joining the Parapsychology Foundation and PF Psychic Explorers Club Facebook pages, or by following the PF on Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr. We’re grateful for that too.
But if you don’t have a YouTube account, I personally highly recommend you get one. It’s free and easy to set up, and having a YouTube account lets you subscribe to all your favorite channels. Subscribing generates your YouTube history so that each time you log on, you’ll see more and more recommendations that fit your viewing preferences. And while you’re giving yourself a better YouTube experience overall, you’re also helping us get our subscribership to the 1000+ mark which will, in turn, increase the likelihood that more of our videos will hit the threshold for manual review and get off the “controversial” list.
So let’s see what we’ve been adding!
The Video Fruits of Our Busy Summer
The Month of June
We are so proud of how much we’ve been able to do with just our little group of folks working hard to turn out our legacy content and give you the best of our recent online events. Here’s a run down of what we’ve uploaded since the beginning of June with descriptions and links to the videos followed by a look into Anna’s upload for this coming Friday.
On June 9th, Anna Damalas uploaded a Classic Perspectives Lecture edited from the original event filmed at the then PF Library on 71st and 2nd on the Upper East Side of New York City. More than half a century after a group of teenage boys gathered in the 1930s to table tip, two of the surviving participants, eminent psychologist Dr. Montague Ullman and his colleague Gilbert Roller, came to PF to talk about their experiences with “Dr. Bindelof”, their main communicator to their séance circle. Not only did these young men discuss what and who Dr. Bindelof might have been but, as Roller and Ullman talked, it became plain that their younger selves had also investigated their experiences with an insightful methodology not usual for their ages back in the day. Since they gave their talk, the Bindelof group and their exploits have been charmingly written up by long-time friend of the PF Dr. Rosemarie Pilkington (2006) in the book, The Spirit of Dr. Bindelof: The Enigma of Seance Phenomena. To head over to YouTube and watch this charming video, click here.
On June 16th, Anna uploaded another Classic Perspectives Lecture presented on October 1st, 2003 by Sylvia Hart Wright and called “Sensing Contact with the Dead: A Common Experience.” Professor Sylvia Hart Wright is an afterlife researcher and the author of When Spirits Come Calling: The Open-Minded Skeptic’s Guide to After-Death Contacts. She became interested in studying the afterlife after she was widowed in 1983, when she claimed to begin sensing the presence of her late husband. Her talk included a number of the experiences she has collected over the years. Professor Wright formerly headed the library at the City University of New York’s School of Architecture and Environmental Studies and left her position at the City University of New York in 1991 to devote herself full time to afterlife research. If you’re interested in after death communication, this is an excellent talk to check out by clicking here.
On June 30th, Anna uploaded another Classic Perspectives Lecture that I gave back when I was still working on my PhD dissertation in late spring/early summer of 2000. The talk was called “The Effect of Criticism: Skeptics, Parapsychologists and Experiencers,” and outlined some of the unfair practices of hardened critics and skeptics not only on the research and academic careers of scientific parapsychologists, but also the chilling effect skeptics have on experiencers and their understanding of phenomena they have encountered. At the time my husband and I were only a couple of months away from moving to New York City and taking up full-time staff positions at the Parapsychology Foundation, and while having a full-time job in the field slowed down my progress towards my PhD by a few years, it was a pure joy to be on-site at the PF, and on staff for almost a decade after that. My biography is available on the Staff Page of this website. A recent book on skepticism in which some of this material is featured in a chapter I wrote is here and my doctoral dissertation is available here. The video, on the other hand, which benefits greatly from the lively group of Perspectives Lectures attendees whose questions and comments made for an enjoyable exchange, can be found here.
The Month of July
On July 8th, I uploaded Dr. Steven Braude’s talk from the Book Expo series inaugurated by Lisette Coly in November of 2015. (Previous presentations from that iteration are also available in the PF Book Expo playlist). Dr. Braude is a well known philosopher who has spent a significant portion of his career working on problems of importance to the parapsychological community from the experimental research featured in ESP and Psychokinesis first published in 1980 to The Gold Leaf Lady, a collection of his own experiences in field research, published in 2007. Crimes of Reason: On Mind, Nature and the Paranormal, published in 2016, is an excellent new anthology of updated essays on parapsychology and psychology. Among the topics covered were dissociation, a psychological concept that figures in the understanding of psychic experiences, multiple personality (now known as dissociative identity disorder), and of course, criticism of and skepticism towards parapsychologcail research of various kinds. To view this presentation click here.
Also on July 8th, I uploaded Dr. Callum E. Cooper’s talk on his popular book, Telephone Calls from the Dead, from the Fall 2016 PF Book Expo. Dr. Cooper was still a doctoral student at the University of Northampton when he gave the talk. In fact, in 2009, the PF Awarded him a Garrett Scholarship and in May of 2015 he also took part in the first online PF Forum: Recent Advances in UK Parapsychology . His November 2016 Book Expo presentation provided an interesting look at a kind of phenomena that was first researched by D. Scott Rogo and Raymond Bayless and published back in the 1979 in Phone Calls from the Dead. Cooper not only analyzed the work included in that book, but also investigated the process of that case collection by working with the families of and materials left by both Rogo and Bayless. His talk also reviewed his new case collection, giving an overview of his methodology and presenting a few of his cases in more detail. His presentation is available here.
On the 9th I also uploaded the closing session of Book Expo November 2016. The closing session was a bit different from our usual ones, in that it included an extended Question and Answer period with Dr. Cooper, and then some brief announcements on the PF’s then upcoming online events, news about the PF social media, and a recap of the full Book Expo. To check that out click here. As you can tell, earlier presentations had previously been uploaded ot the playlist. They included Dr. James Carpenter on his important book, First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life, Dr. Zofia Weaver on her book on the mediumship of Franek Kluski, and Patricia Pearson on her book on after death experiences in her own family, in the literature and from a case collection she did for the book. The closing session video is available here.
On July 11th, I uploaded the third of four presentations given by members of the PF Family who accepted the invitation of virtual world artist and builder, Tahiti Rae, to get an avatar and give their talks in the virtual world, Second Life. Tahita Rae received a grant from the Linden Laboratories Endowment for the Arts (LEA27) to build a multi-faceted multi-world sim to embrace and explore “Time, Consciousness and the Paranormal.” For a walk-through tour of this extraordinary installation click here.The first talk in the Pavilion at EVRE was my tour of odd experiences that suggested to the experiencers at least they had peeked into the past somehow, if experienced a kind of timeslip. The second talk was an excellent presentation by Dr. Dean Radin who is the Chief Scientist at the Institute for Noetic Sciences as well as the PF International Affiliate for the United States. The lecture uploaded on the 11th was by Dr. Dick Bierman of the University of Gotingen who not only was the first to offer an online course in scientific parapsychology back when it took an enormous amount of computer proficiency to even conceive of such a thing, but also has been at the experimental and theoretical forefront of the field for decades. His talk in EVRE dealt with methodological problems that have plagued the field over its history and are not discussed as often as they should be discussed by modern day experimentalists. Although the EVRE Pavilion was unusual venue for such an insider topic, the content of the lecture was very well-received by the audience.
On July 21st, Anna uploaded Face to Face with Robert L. Morris filmed in 2002. Lisette Coly sat down with Morris (1942-2004), then the Koestler Professor of Parapsychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. Their conversation ranged over the history and future of the field from Dr. Morris’ unique perspective. The legacy left by Morris was prodigous and included experimental work, but perhaps even more important, almost two dozen graduate students he so expertly mentored to their doctorates (among whom were both Carlos and I). These graduate students fanned out over the landscape, developing research and teaching units all over the world, but most especially in the UK. More information on “the Morris Miracle” is available in PF International Affiliate for England, Dr. Chris Roe’s presentation for the PF’s first online International Affiliates Conference in January of 2015.
On July 24th, Gonçalo uploaded the Opening Session of PF Book Expo November 2016 in which Lisette Coly and PF Research Fellow Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado introduced the four authors who talked about their recent books. Each in their own presentations touched on the content and goals of their books, outlined why they got involved in the process of writing their book and talked about what they learned along the way, and more. The presenters Alvarado introduced included Dr. Imants Baruss and Dr. Julia Mossbridge, on their book Transcendental Mind: Rethinking the Science of Consciousness, Titus Rivas and Rudolf Smit on their book with Anny Dirven, The Self Does Not Die: Verified Paranormal Phenomena from Near-Death Experiences, and Dr. Renaud Evrard on his Enquête sur 150 ans de parapsychologie — La legende de l’esprit [Survey of 150 years of parapsychology — The legend of the mind]. Their presentations will be uploaded in the future. In the meantime, the Opening Session video is available here.
To finish up July, on the July 29th I uploaded the last of the four EVRE presentations from the Second Life event that took place in December of 2016. Dr. Julia Mossbridge, in her charming avatar, gave her presentation, “On Prediction and Productivity: Better Living through Non-Conscious Processing.” Dr. Julia Mossbridge (Visiting Scientist, Institute for Noetic Sciences, Director Focus@Will, Visiting Scholar, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University and faculty for the PF’s ParaMOOC17) described the presentiment experiments that she and colleagues can completed and discussed their implications for our understanding of the limits of human perception. A very lively and informative question and answer period followed the talk.
So Far in August
On August 6th, I uploaded the opening session from the “PF International Affiliates Conference: New Faces in Parapsychology” that took place on January 29th, 2017. For the first online PF International Affiliates Conference, we asked PF Affiliates from Argentina, Brazil, England, France, and Japan to provide us with an overview of the scientific study of psychic phenomena in their own countries. For the Second PF International Affiliates Conference, Carlos queried the PF International Affiliates and and asked them to nominate a younger colleague from their countries who represented the best of the next generation of researchers. Ultimately Ana Flores, a doctoral student at the University of Edinburgh was nominated by her mentor, Koestler Professor and PF International Affiliate for Scotland Caroline Watt, Csongor Matyi was nominated by Dr Zoltán Vassy, the PF International Affiliate from Hungary, and Gabriel Texeiros de Mederia, a post-graduate student at the University of Sâo Paulo was nominated by one of the two PF International Affiliates from Brazil, Professor Wellington Zangari. To view the opening session with comments by Lisette and Carlos here.
On August 11th, Gonçalo uploaded the 65th Anniversary Interview with Dr. Lawrence LeShan, a retired clinical psychologist who has had an august career in psychology and in parapsychology, having come to the attention of Eileen J. Garrett in the 1950s. LeShan is the author of more than 15 books on various aspects of psychology and medicine from meditation to psychology in the space age, many of them in several editions and various languages. Most important for our field are The World of the Paranormal: The Next Frontier (2004), The Medium, the Mystic and the Physicist: Toward a General Theory of the Paranormal (2003), and A New Science of the Paranormal: The Science of Psychical Research (2013). In this interview, Lisette Coly sat down with him at his home for an hour long conversation about his career in parapsychology, Dr. LeShan shared his memories of PF’s early days and his fascinating research with Eileen J. Garrett. To listen to this interview click here.
Finally on August 21st, I uploaded Ana Flores’s talk, “A New Light on Replicability Problem in Parapsychology: Can Non-Local Correlation be the Answer.” Her talk is the first of the presentations given in the PF International Affiliates Conference: New Faces in Parapsychology. Under her Professor Caroline Watt of the Psychology Department at the University of Edinburgh, Ana Flores’ research is part of a wider consortium of university-based researchers across Europe who are testing the theories of German physicist and scholar Walter von Lucadou from the Institut Grenzegebiete fur Psycologie und Psychohygiene in Germany. From Portugal, with a background in law, psychology and consciousness, Ana Flores’ intriguing presentation is available here.
And Next Up
Well, as always we’re still working to build up the academic, scholarly and scientific work available on YouTube for serious students of psychic phenomena, psychical research, and scientific parapsychology. This coming Friday, August 25th, Ana will be uploading another Classic Perspectives Lecture, this one by the late Dr. Steven Baumann, who was a long-time researcher at the Rhine Research Center until his untimely death some years back. His talk is entitled “Studying Physiological Coherence Between Alternative Healers and Patients.” When he presented it Dr. Steven Baumann was an Adjunct Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Duke University and a Visiting Research Associate at the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina. He outlined research on healing which he has designed and which was then underway at Duke University. Dr. Baumann, who had a long-time interest in scientific parapsychology, had performed numerous studies on brain function using electroencephalographic (EEG) and magnetic resonance (MRI) over the course of all too brief life.
So I hope you enjoyed this look into our very busy summer. We certainly have a lot planned for the rest of the year, and as always, we’ll be letting you all know when new content becomes available. It’s really a privilege to be able to organize, moderate, edit and upload this material, I must say. Keep checking back! And don’t forget when you’re over on the PF YouTube Channel to subscribe and hit that bell for notifications.