Dr. Dick Bierman "Replicability of Experimental Paranormal Phenomena" 

Friday, February 12 2016 | 2:00 PM (EST)

90 minutes
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About the Class

Dr. Dick Bierman (University of Amsterdam) will speak on "Replicability of Experimental Paranormal Phenomena."

Abstract: In main stream experimental psychology the recent discovery that a majority of published effects can not be replicated has a majori mpact. Publication bias on the side of researchers and of the editors is proposed to be a major culprit for this difficulty to replicate. However a part from this crazy idea that a non-significant finding has no value and thus need not to be published, there have been discovered other Questionable Research Practices (QRPs) that a large fraction of psychological researchers admit to. Generally these practices result in an
artificial increase of the effect. Experimental results in parapsychology are also difficult to replicate. One can wonder if this is due to intrinsic
aspects of the psi phenomenon or if this is due to questionable research practices that apparently plague main stream psychology.

In the talk I will explain the questionable research practices that might have been employed in so-called Ganzfeld research. There is now a large database of published Ganzfeld experiments that, according to proponents of psi, unambiguously shows the reality of telepathy (&
clairvoyance), We ran a simulation of all the GF experiments in the database modeling all the QRPs quantitatively in order to explore how much of the claimed effect could be explained. The results show that almost 60% of the telepathy effect can be explained by QRPs. The unexplained part is a tiny effect that requires over 700 subjects to have a probability of 80% for a succesful replication.

The conclusion is that further well powered Ganzfeld experiments with unselected subjects is unaffordable and hence unrealistic and that the only solution seems to be to select the ‘gifted.’ If time allows the experimenter psi effect will also be discussed in the framework of the
replicability issue.

A software shell has been developed and will be demonstrated that can be distributed to (psi) researchers and will guarantee that their results are QRP free. A multi lab 4-5 year research program has been initiated with this shell that will result in a definite answer to the question: are
psi effects replicable?

Biography: After a PhD in experimental physics Dick Bierman became involved in research in Artificial Intelligence more specifically ‘Intelligent’ tutoring systems. This resulted in a focus on individual learning and later learning during altered states of consciousness most notably learning during sleep. Also the importance of affective rather than cognitive processes in individual teaching lead him to interest in non-conscious emotions and their role in (intuitive) decision making. In that context his work on pre-sentiment, the apparent anomalous activation of bodily arousal preceding random emotional events, found a natural context. Recently, theoretical work was done to accommodate these empirical findings into a physical framework. This work revolves around the concept of time-symmetry as it is found in many physical formalisms.

Parallel to this work on intuitive decisions he started to try to get an empirical handle on the relation between quantum physics and consciousness. He recently finished a number of experiments on the radical subjective interpretation of the so-called measurement problem in quantum physics using a method earlier explored by Abner Shimony. In contrast to Shimony’s approach the dependent measure is not a conscious ‘guess’ about the state of the observed quantum event but it is the early (non conscious) part of the evoked brain potential of the observer of a quantum event.

Finally, during the last few years, he started some work on the neuro-scientific aspects of alexythemia, a pathology resulting in inadequate emotional processing.


Bierman, D. J., (2003), Does Consciousness Collapse the Wave-Packet?, MIND AND MATTER 1, 1.

Bierman, D.J., Destrebecqz, A., Cleeremans, A. (2005). Intuitive Decision Making in Complex Situations: Somatic Markers in an Artificial Grammar Learning Task. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 5- 3, pp. 297-305(9)

Bierman, D. & Whitmarsh, S. (2007). Schrodinger's Cat: Empirical Research into the Radical Subjective solution of the Measurement problem. In Keith Sutherland (Ed.), Journal of Consciousness Studies (JCS, 14-9) . Exeter, UK: imprint academic.

Language of instruction: English


About Nancy Zingrone

  • Nancy Zingrone
    Nancy Zingrone
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Profile Summary

I have a PhD in psychology from the University of Edinburgh, am a part-time Professor of Psychology in the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Northcentral University, a Research Fellow at the Parapsychology Foundation, and the co-director of The Alvarado Zingrone Institute for Research and Education (The AZIRE), a virtual education project of mine and my husband Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado's consulting firm, Alvarado, Zingrone & Associates (formerly Alvarado Consulting).

My primary passion is providing educational opportunities in the scientific and scholarly approaches to seemingly psychic phenomena and experience. My second passion is psychology as a research discipline, its history and systems and basic research methods and statistics. And I am greatly interesting in the methodologies of teaching online including project-based learning, using Moodle and WizIQ for teaching, and the use of virtual worlds in higher education and adult education.

My personal projects include the blog, Thinking about Learning, the YouTube channel, Teaching and Learning Online, and the website and YouTube Channel, Parapsychology Online.