Blog Archives

Cognition and belief in paranormal phenomena: gestalt/feature-intensive processing theory and tendencies toward ADHD, depression, and dissociation.

Belief in paranormal phenomena and cryptids–unknown animals such as Bigfoot–may predispose individuals to interpret real-world objects and events in the same way that eyewitness identification can be biased by unrelated information (P. James and N. Thorpe, 1999). Psychological tendencies toward attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dissociation, and depression, even at subclinical levels, may be associated systematically with particular paranormal or cryptozoological beliefs. The authors evaluated these psychological tendencies using the Conners Adult ADHD Rating Scales (C. K. Conners, D. Erhardt, and E. Sparrow, 1999), the Dissociative Experiences Scale (L. Coleman & J. Clark, 1999), and the Beck Depression Inventory-II (A. T. Beck, 1996). They performed regression analyses against beliefs in ghosts, unidentified flying objects (UFOs), extrasensory perception (ESP), astrology, and cryptids. ADHD, dissociation, and depression were associated with enhanced tendencies toward paranormal and cryptozoological beliefs, although participants who believed in each of the phenomena differed from one another in predictable and psychologically distinguishable ways. Cognitively biasing influences of preexisting psychological tendencies may predispose individuals to specific perceptual and cognitive errors during confrontation of real-world phenomena.

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Belief in astrology inventory: development and validation.

After the paper by Mayo, White, and Eysenck in 1978, a considerable number of papers studied the so-called sun-sign-effect predicted by astrology: people born with the sun in a positive sign are supposed to be extraverted, and those with the sun in a negative sign are supposed to be introverted. In these papers, researchers used ad hoc questionnaires with a few questions related to belief, knowledge, experience, or attitude toward astrology. However, an appropriate inventory with known psychometric properties has yet to be developed to assess the belief in astrology. In the present paper, the Belief in Astrology Inventory is presented with some psychometric data. The participants were 743 undergraduates studying Psychology and Social Sciences at a university in Spain. Correlation of scores on Belief in Astrology and Extraversion was small but significant (r = .22; r2 = .04) for positive sun-sign participants. This value accounts for negligible common variance. Women had significandy higher scores on the inventory than men.

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The perceived efficacy of various “future-ologies” and complementary medicine

OBJECTIVES: To examine the relationship between beliefs in ways of telling the future (astrology, graphology, palmistry etc) and beliefs in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

DESIGN: Participants completed a short questionnaire that requested that they rate the efficacy of 8 CAM therapies along with 12 other ways of predicting the future ranging from the well known and established (astrology) to the less well known (tasseography, oneiromancy). Short descriptions of each were provided. They also answered four attitude statements on science as applied to medicine.

SUBJECTS: Two hundred three (130 female, 73 male) adult Britains obtained from a university subject panel served as unpaid volunteer subjects.

RESULTS: CAM therapies were judged as modestly effective and most of the other “-ologies” ineffective. Further analysis confirmed two clear factors with the different methods loading on two different factors. Regressions showed females who were less concerned with scientific evaluations but more concerned with treatment believed more in the efficacy of the “future-ologies.” Also females, who had heard of fewer “future-ologies” but more CAM practices were more likely to believe in the efficacy of CAM therapies.

CONCLUSION: Belief in CAM is unrelated to belief in “future-ologies.” Interest in the scientific evaluations of treatment is the best predictor of beliefs about efficacy.

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Urinary retention and the lunisolar cycle: is it a lunatic phenomenon?

Objective: to determine whether a relationship between urinary retention and temporal rhythms exists. Design: retrospecive analysis of patients presenting over three years. Setting: urology departments in two hospitals. Patients: 815 patients presenting as emergency admissions with urinary retention and requiring immediate decompression of the bladder. Main outcome measures: calendar date of each admissionto determine circadian, monthly, and seasonal periodicity. Results: no association was found between urinary retention and circadian,monthly, or seasonal fhythms. A significantly higher (p<0.001) incidence of urinary retention was observed during the new moon in compariosn with other phases of the lunar cycle. Conclusion: urinary retention is periodic in nature. This should be considered when the workload of a specialist urological department is organised.

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The theoretical basis of the Astrological Classification System

The astrological classification system of polarities, elements and qualities is obviously of mathematical origin. It is based on the formula Nx mod 360 and Nx mod 30, respectively. It appears that after raising every individual degree of the circle (N) to a higher power and deducting the multiples of 360, the residual values show that only 14 configurations differing from each other are possible, as the constellations from the 3rd to the 14th power are repeated cyclically as of the 15th power onwards. It becomes evident that the whole Zodiac is interconnected like communicating tubes. Every sign contains all 4 elements, all 3 qualities and both polarities , but to a different percentage. All signs have more plus polarity than minus polarity. Only full degrees are considered contrary to Harmonics where also minutes and seconds are included and an interpretation of the underlying figure is done. A break-down of every degree into its components is available.

The classification system presently in use is a simplification as parts have been forgotten in the course of history. The presented method further could shed light on a number of questions like the composition of the 15th degree, the sign borders, etc. E.g. it becomes obvious that the 29th and 1st degrees of every sign are connected with every prime figure degree in every sign except for 3 and 5. The numerical strength of degrees may be judged according to the number of hits in the cyclic repetition.
The method has proven valuable, combined with traditional methods, in making correct predictions, e.g. in presidential elections, chart comparisons, etc.

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Human responses to the geohysical daily, annual and lunar cycles

Collectively the daily, seasonal, lunar andtidal geophysical cycles regulate much of the temporal biology of life on Earth. The increasing isolate of human socities from these geophysical cycles, as aresult ofimproved living conditions, high-quality nutrition and 24/7 working practices, have led many to believe that human biology functions independently of them. Yet recent studies have highlighted the dominant role that our circadian clock plays in the organisation of 24 hour patterns of behaviour and physiology. Preferred wake and sleep times are to a large extent drive by an endogenous temporal programme that uses sunlight as an entraining cue. The alarm clock can drive human activity rhythms but has little direct effect on our endogenous 24 hour pysiology. In many situations, our biology and our society appear to be in serious opposiion, and the damaging consequences to our health under these circumstances are increasinly recognised. The seasons dominate the lives of non-equatorial species, and until recently, they also had a marked influence on much of human biology. Despite human isolation from seasonal changes in temperature, food and photoperiod in the industrialised nations, the seasons still appear to have a small, but significant, impact upon when individuals are born and man asepcts of health. The seasonal changes that modulate our biology, and how these factorsmight interact with the social and metabolic status of the individual to drive seasonaleffects, arestill poorly understood. Lunar cycles had, and continue to have, an influecne upon human culture, though despite a persistent belief that ourmental health and other behaviours are modulated by the phase of the moon, there is no solid evidence that human biology is in any way regulated by the lunar cycle.

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The pre-natal epoch and the method of E.H. Bailey

With the advent of the personal computer and its tendency to discourage independent thought and manual calculation, the very idea of ‘the prenatal epoch’ might have long-since slipped into oblivion. However, the PNE has been revived by a number of software routines so it is time to remind interested researchers of a few of the pitfalls, the least of which is its assumed failure above latitudes 66½.

In this regard to the latter, the following endnote was appended to Global Horoscopes [Wackford, 2005].

“The semi-arc system provides for circumpolar Pre-natal Epochs because parts of the North/South Meridians can serve as edges of the 1st and 7th houses. Earlier writers (notably Charles Jayne) have suggested ad hoc use of the Meridian (or Prime Vertical) in cases where the Moon tenants a degree that cannot rise or set. Substitution of the Meridian is exactly what would occur under Placidus; but without the arbitrary component. Many astrologers, past and present, have not been convinced that there is any truth in the Pre-natal Epoch, though its complete theory does not appear to have been handed down. But if residents of the temperate zones were to have such a thing as a PNE, so then must Inuit and those born in Murmansk, etc.”

For reasons laid out below, the author has never enquired further into the Placidian solution to this problem.

In or about 1980 however, he calculated very many epoch charts, in order to confirm the worth or otherwise of pre-natal epoch theory and of Bailey’s additional rules. This investigation was occasioned at the time by the availability of accurate, ‘to-the-minute’(?) birth times as recorded by Americans’ birth certificates.

The writer soon tired of having to flip back and forth through Bailey’s instructions and instead devised the tables reproduced here.

This paper is a revision of an appendix to the late Dr. Margaret Millard’s The Moon and Childbirth (privately published) and is republished here, in part, to underscore the author’s opinion that the assertions ascribed to ‘Hermes Trismagistus1 are incomplete as they stand today.

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The perceived efficacy of various “future-ologies” and complementarymedicine

Objectives: to examine the relationship between beliefs in ways of telling the future (astrology, graphology, palmistry, etc) and beliefs in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Design: participants completed a short questionnaire that requested that they rate the efficacy of 8 CAM therapies along with 12 other ways of predicting the future ranging from the well known and established (astrology) to the less well known (tasseography, oneiromancy). Short descriptions of each were provided. They also answered four attitude statements on science as applied to medicine. Subjects: two hundred three (130 female, 73 male) adult Britains obtained from a university subject panel served as unpaid volunteer subjects. Results: CAM therapieswere judged as modestly effective and most of the other “-ologies” ineffective. Further analysis confirmed two clear factors with the different methods loading on two different factors. Regressions showed females who were less concerned with scientific evaluations but more concerned with treatmment believed more in the efficacy of the “future-ologies”.n Also, females who had heard of fewer “future-ologies” but more CAM practices were morelikley to believe in the efficacy of CAM therapies. Conclusion: belief in CAM is unrelated to belief in “future-ologies”. Interest in the scientific evaluation of treatment is the best predictor of beliefs about efficacy.

Posted in Free Research Abstract

Neptune, Mercury and the ability to recall

Almost everything we do depends on our ability to remember the past. This experiment sought to contribute quantitative data exploring two issues concerning memory. Miller (1956) theorised that an average person can hold 7 chunks of information in STM. This experiment confirms that 7 is also the average when a distracter test pushes the learnt words into LTM.

This research also examines the possibility that the relationship between two planetary symbols, Neptune and Mercury, can indicate differences in ability to recall. The experimental hypothesis predicts impaired ability for those with a Mercury Neptune aspect in their horoscopes. However, the results showed the reverse to be the case, with the Mercury Neptune group achieving a mean average score of 8.27 compared to the other group`s score of 6.66 out of 20. The work of Westran (2001) provides an interesting reference, since he too produced results of significance when examining a correlation between Mercury Neptune aspects and police detectives.

It is therefore proposed that use of the astrological model of the universe could provide cognitive psychology with a new worldview from which to develop different perspectives for research.

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From medical astrology to medical astronomy: soli-lunar and planetary theories of disease in British medicine, c. 1700-1850

After 1700, astrology lost the respect it once commanded in medical circles. But the belief that the heavens influenced bodily health persisted – even in learned medicine -until well into the nineteenth century. The continuing vitality of these ideas owed much to the new empirical and mechanical outlook of their proponents. Taking their cue from the work of Robert Boyle and Richard Mead a number of British practioners amassed statistical evidence which purported to prove he influence of the Moon upon fevers and other diseases. Such ideas flourished in the colonies and in the medical services of the armed forces, but their exponents were not marginal men. Some, like James Lind, were widely respected and commanded support for their views from such influential figures as Erasmus Darwin.

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