In addition to the 88 surveys collected for phase 1 of the study, a pilot non-believers experiment was implemented with 3 sitters. The researcher used a double-blind study design where both the researcher and the Medium had no information about the sitter prior to the start of the reading. Only the gender and the sitter’s belief patterns about this phenomenon were considered for this experiment. Using males that were also non- believers provided a control for the initial study. We know from previous studies in psychology that a “predisposition to believing” can bias results so testing the phenomenon is best with individuals who have not had any experience with Mediums. Conducting the experiments also allowed the researcher to videotape and record the full reading. This “hands on” approach allows one to contextualize and code the mediums statements and sitters responses in a systematic manner.
Finally, when the Medium and the researcher do not know any information about the sitter, this mitigates the study limitation of “sensory leakage”
Sensory leakage: Critics have often diminished the findings of research studies with Mediums as skeptics point out that Mediums may communicate accurate information about the sitter as a result of having knowledge about the sitter prior to the reading. In the Non-Believers experiment conducted by Metaphysics Research, “sensory leakage” was controlled for by ensuring that no one knew the sitter prior to the experiment. The researcher had an independent individual recruit the sitters. No names or any information was to be e provided prior to the study. Where the findings indicate that the Medium was able to provide information unknown to anyone except the sitter, this increases support for the notion that “survival of consciousness” exists. In this study, the only information the Medium and researcher knew was that the sitter was male and that he did not believe in the afterlife and other alleged talents related to mediumship.
The following eligibility requirements enhanced the credibility of the experiments:
Males: To ensure that the results of the initial study were not relevant to females only, only males were invited for this rigorous experiment. Males acted as controls for the survey results generated from Phase 1 of the study.
Non-Believers: To ensure the results of the initial study were not related to “prior beliefs” a group of male non-believers were invited to participate. If results for” non-believers” are the same for” believers”,one’s prior belief patterns could be ruled out as a contributing factor to the results.
Consent: All sitters needed to consent to their reading being recorded and videotaped. They also needed to agree to a follow-up so the statements during the reading could be verified.
A video of this experiment is available under the “videos” section on this website.