The Belief Effect in Psychokinesis: Sheep, Goat or Jackass?

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Brendan D. Murphy

Repeated ignorant or stubborn denial of the existence of certain powers does not keep them from existing—except for us! —Harold M. Sherman

Have you ever noticed how closed-minded skeptics (CMS) rarely if ever have any experiences with the siddhis (psychic faculties) or “the paranormal” in general? Soviet research into psychokinesis (PK) involving Nina Kulagina demonstrated qualitatively that a skeptic’s mere presence has an effect on a psychic’s ability to function properly. Hence, with a CMS (or several) in the room or otherwise involved in the experiment, a psychic is more likely to “fail,” thus “proving” the CMS right (at least in his own narrow reality tunnel). It is merely a case of self-fulfilling prophecy.

New-science researcher and filmmaker David Wilcock has suggested that if consciousness creates all known energy, can manipulate matter and is ultimately a vibrational movement of aetheric/zero point energy, then the level of consciousness, intelligence or love present is directly proportional to the vibrational speed of aether vortexes/torsion in that locality. Higher speeds invite higher degrees of intelligence and/or love because there is then more energy available, meaning will has more fuel for exerting effects on “external” system.

Dr. Valerie Hunt’s research in INFINITE MIND showed a correlation between auric frequencies and the “level” of consciousness occupied by the individual. Healers, mediums and mystics showed higher frequencies in their electromagnetic fields than others not of those categories, illustrating that those possessed of “higher” consciousness are, in some sense, literally “on a higher frequency.” Those fixated on or believing solely in “material reality” exhibited lower dominant frequencies and were bereft of the higher.

In fact, gamma frequencies in the brain of 40-100 Hertz—the highest of the better known bands of brainwave frequencies (the higher band being Lambda, reaching up to about 200 Hz)—have been linked to the ability to manifest intention in the world. Gamma states represent the brain in hyperdrive, working at its most intensity. In the words of Dawson Church, “This oscillation is conducive to creating links across many parts of the brain,” facilitating an integrated whole-brain state.

Paradoxically, the extreme high and low ends of the brainwave spectrum have the same states of consciousness associated with them, and different oscillations can be present at once in different parts of the same brain. To illustrate, Russian PK psi star Nina Kulagina (1926–1990)—who, under controlled experimental conditions, could (among other things) separate an egg yoke from the white from a distance of six feet while it floated in a saline solution using only her intention—exhibited low frequency theta brainwaves of 4 Hz (normally associated with a deeply relaxed trance) while simultaneously showing extreme physiological agitation/arousal, including a pulse rate of 240 bpm. These strenuous efforts left her absolutely exhausted, and temporarily blind on one occasion.

Perhaps all of the above explains why Kulagina’s PK abilities “worked better in an atmosphere of friendly mutual trust and belie.” PK generally requires intense states of physiological arousal and higher frequency brainwave activity, all of which drains large reserves of bioenergy. PK is a higher brain function. Kulagina experienced less stress when working alone and it was said that her PK ability was mood-dependent (both her own mood and that of the observers) and that expended more energy in a hostile or skeptical atmosphere (where the collective vibration would have been lowered). Hostile skeptics have something of an innate psi- or consciousness-damping effect; they literally operate at a lower frequency, their mind fields interfering with those of the test subject. The fact that separate minds interact via measurable electromagnetic fields (and some not-so-measurable/torsion/scalar fields) has been proven by Hunt and others, and I detail much of this fascinating research in THE GRAND ILLUSION.

Sometime before 1919, Emma Hardinge Britten remarked that “experience has shown that the conditions under which spiritual phenomena are produced through mediums are not only helped or hindered by their mental states, but also by the will, magnetism, and mental states of those who surround them.” The situation hasn’t changed a great deal since then; similar observations have been made by today’s researchers such as physicists Amit Goswami and Russel Targ.

The difference between open-minded skepticism and closed-minded skepticism can be the difference, for example, between genuine and obvious mediumship as compared to a less successful demonstration (or a complete nonevent). Well-known American medium Allison DuBois comments amusingly that when she “brought through” her first deceased professional psychic-medium, communicating with and understanding him was very easy; communicating with deceased former skeptics, on the other hand, she likens to pulling mud through a colander. For her, more open-minded people are more pleasant in death than those who lived with closed minds.

Negativity causes chaos or entropy in the local ambient (and personal) energy fields, whereas positivity, gratitude and love cause coherence, beauty and order—just look at the instances of saints and yogis whose dead bodies have remained impervious to decay weeks, months, and years! Hence, the mere presence of a skeptic (especially a dogmatic and belligerent one) during psychical research may cause disorder and potentially negate psi effects; they create incoherence or “psi-damping” effects (just one of the many reasons no sane or informed psychic would ever get involved with the thought fields connected to any “super skeptics’” psychic “challenges”). Closed-minded skeptics act as human frequency scramblers and—somewhat ironically—psychically manifest their own beliefs, albeit unconsciously. (Fear of failure—which might be likely to increase around hostile observers—also plays a role in some psi experiments, creating inner conflict in the subject that can negate results.)

Practically speaking, the minds of the experimenter/s and the subject are entangled in aether/zero point field/vacuum/time-space/implicate order, and therefore psi-negative beliefs belonging to the mind or torsion/scalar field of the experimenter can deleteriously affect the psi operations of the subject.

Need, novelty and emotion also play a part. Carl Jung (1875–1961)—originator of the theory of psychological archetypes—noted with interest that the English medium Eileen Garrett fared poorly in parapsychologist JB Rhine’s card-guessing experiments because she was unable to conjure any feelings for Rhine’s “soulless” test-cards. Much experimentation has also shown that psi effects have a tendency to start out higher in the initial stages of testing and then drop off as the participants lose interest and boredom sets in (the “decline effect”).

In 1942 psychologist and parapsychologist Gertrude Schmeidler initiated her infamous “sheep-goat” experiments, designed to test whether belief and open-mindedness would enhance psi function in contrast to skepticism. Two groups, “sheep” who believed in or were simply open to psi, and “goats” who did not believe, were put through identical standard controlled ESP tests. The outcome indicated that believers in the possibility of ESP scored better than those who did not: disbelievers scored lower, proving that belief is a legitimate variable mediating psi functions.

Some disbelievers have actually produced results significantly below chance, manifesting their negative belief in psi—to statistically significant levels. The irony is delicious. Dr. Mario Varvoglis, who was President of the Parapsychological Association from 2001–02 and has been involved in psi research since the mid-1970s, has remarked of Schmeidler’s research that the sheep-goat discrepancy “has been confirmed by many other researchers. A meta-analysis by [psychologist Tony Lawrence], covering 73 experiments by 37 different researchers, clearly confirms that subjects who believe in psi obtain, on the average, higher results than those who do not believe in it.”

Lawrence’s meta-analysis involved all sheep-goat forced-choice experiments conducted between 1947 and 1993 and consisted of more than 685,000 guesses by 4,500 participants. The overall results were strongly in favor of the sheep-goat effect—to such an extent, in fact, that to reduce the results statistically to chance would have required an additional 1,726 unpublished and/or non-significant studies. No plausible explanations for this result other than psi have been put forth.

As author David Hamilton puts it regarding his own psychic explorations: “Faith, I discovered, meant the difference between broadband and dial-up.” American psychic and author Harold Sherman (1898–1987) had noted in the early 1940s that while it is possible to receive thought impressions from a skeptic, it is extremely difficult for someone of that mindset to act as receiver. Even for professionals, trying to “receive” from a skeptic can be a big ask (as per DuBois’ previous comments). Varvoglis confirms that the more open we are to psi experiences, the better the chances that the world will “respond” by creating them.

Co-developer of the early American military’s remote viewing program (and one of the remote viewers) Ingo Swann weighs in on Schmeidler’s sheep-goat tests, stating that the results initially came as a bombshell because, “Skeptics and disbelievers, of course, very much desired not to be seen as dysfunctional regarding something they were trying to debunk.” Ergo, after these experiments were replicated variously by other researchers with similar results, “skeptics and disbelievers decided NOT to take part in ESP tests. In any event, here was something to be swept under mainstream carpets.”

It is important to realize, as author and former host of the PBS television series THINKING ALLOWED Jeffrey Mishlove points out, that the sheep-goat studies do not necessarily distinguish those who believe in ESP from those who do not. In most studies, the “sheep” merely accepted the possibility that ESP could occur in the test situation, while many of the “goats” were willing to accept that ESP could occur between people who loved each other, or in certain times of crisis; but they did not accept that ESP might operate for them in their test situation. On that basis, imagine how psi-negative the beliefs of the fanatical and hostile “skeptic” must be. Far better to be open to possibility than closed to it for fear of one’s beliefs being wrong.

Harold Sherman, who was ahead of his time, articulated the role of belief and the subconscious mind in the attempt to function as a successful receiver in a psi endeavor, explaining that telling yourself with certitude that there is no such thing as psi is tantamount to instructing your subconscious mind to shut down the psi faculties so they do not operate for you.

The late American intuitive Edgar Cayce found that there were various factors that could prevent him from giving a reading for someone by hindering or blocking his subconscious mind: for instance, the thoughts of those in the room who were “not in accord with the type, class or character of information sought at that particular time.” Because of the sensitivity of the process, as well as the difficulty of interpreting the Akashic records, “anyone present for a reading had to be unified in his or her desire to be of help to the questioner.” The absence of this synergistic factor could and in some cases did blunt Cayce’s ability “to reach that position, that plane, that sphere, from which the [data] was being sought.”

The openness of individuals present during a “psychic reading”—in particular the individual being read—is widely acknowledged by intuitives as being of major significance in determining whether a given reading is successful. “Openness” does not mean plying the intuitive with information and “helping them along” if they get “stuck,” but being open to the possibility that the psychic just might be genuine and might come up with information otherwise unknown to them, demonstrating psi ability. This also means not being openly obstructive.

Many open-minded skeptics who simply considered it possible that psychic ability actually exists have had readings done by genuine intuitives and been “converted” into believers on the spot. Other times, they were forced to reconsider not just the possibility that the psychic in question was genuine, but the probability of genuineness based on the sheer improbability of the accurately presented information being derived by lucky guesses or “cold reading.”

Closed-minded skeptics, on the other hand, have a way of precipitating extremely poor performance on behalf of legitimate intuitives which, of course, convinces them that what they “knew all along” (i.e., that “psi doesn’t exist”) was “absolutely right.” I am reminded of ex-skeptic Steve Pavlina’s comment that all skepticism achieves is the manifestation of more reasons to continue disbelieving: “It would be hard to manifest a more boring reality than that.” Boring, limiting and disempowering. In a dreamlike reality such as ours, it pays to be open-minded.

Assuming our reality to be a mechanistic and observer-independent universe devoid of consciousness merely creates that appearance in that individual’s subjective perception and experience of it. When you open your mind, strange things can start to happen that otherwise would not be permitted by your subconscious filters and your limiting conscious beliefs. “Skepticism” as popularly practiced in organized groups allows the fearful mind to keep lock-step with the status quo (or some previous and outdated status quo!), which exists, perhaps, due to the appeal of the illusion of safety in numbers and the assurance of perceived authority.

When the dominant paradigm changes, then the “skeptic” will have his tacit permission to change his mind in keeping with the flock, and even then, many skeptics will be so strongly identified with their old beliefs and imprinting that they will be incapable of keeping up with the shifting status quo (new models of reality). It will be largely the next generation who receive the imprinting of the new paradigm that inherit it without major quibbles. The “unbelievers” who still think (or at least act as if) we live in a Newtonian-Cartesian universe ruled by the false mind-matter dichotomy will simply die off, as per the Planckian dictum that science advances one funeral at a time.

The power of belief was demonstrated profoundly to various members of the American Psi Spies (government-funded military remote viewers) in their “nonphysical” excursions. They discovered that when a target site had some form of psi protection against them, they could circumvent that protection and resume viewing if the session monitor simply asked the viewer what he would find without the protection there. The mere belief in the reality of the psychic blockers on the part of the remote viewer meant that those blockers or scrambler frequencies appeared to succeed in doing their job. However, their effectiveness could be undermined by not believing in them or disregarding them altogether.

Out-of-body (OB) explorer and author Robert Monroe’s (1915–1995) experience with a Faraday cage where he found he could not penetrate it in his OB state may have been caused by his own internal expectations and beliefs. Perhaps he suspected there was an EM component to the mind-field in the OB state that created the effect of the Faraday cage apparently blocking his path, since he knew that Faraday cages are designed to block all EM frequencies. Maybe if the OB explorer believes the mind to simply be electromagnetic, he will find that devices such as Faraday cages and magnetic fields impact upon his awareness in a tangible way despite his lower-density and higher-frequency state. Could such be the power of belief? (Granted, that this line of thinking effectively disregards that all of reality is a sort of mental simulation, a virtual reality, and that OB states are simply one level “deeper” into one’s own consciousness.)

Popular American author and playwright Robert Anton Wilson (1932–2007) shared an interesting anecdote in COSMIC TRIGGER regarding his then-youngest daughter, Luna (who was sadly beaten to death in a store robbery at age fifteen). As a child, she had been meditating with two of her siblings when a sudden thud jolted them out of their trances. Luna, who had been on the right of her siblings, was suddenly on the left. Her brother and sister believed she had either levitated or teleported, though Luna herself could not remember moving. When Wilson discussed it with her, she made a stunningly insightful comment by any child’s standards. She told her father: “You believe in ESP, so it happens around you. You don’t believe in levitation, so it doesn’t happen around you.”

Belief is a creative act. In the laboratory of life we can observe this by the fact that disbelievers, on average, experience very little of “the paranormal,” while the more open-minded (not necessarily believers) tend on average to have much more such experience. The Funda-Materialist responds that believers are all mistaken or delusional, which of course the Funda-Materialist could never be, since he inhabits an immutable reality and experiences “objective” perceptions of (and rationalizations about) it.

Yet, observe one of the few cases where skeptics actually attempted to provide empirical evidence for one of their “it must be other than psi” rationalizations for psi-positive results. In 1939 psychologists Kennedy and Uphoff asked twenty-eight observers to record 11,125 mock ESP trials to see if “motivated recording errors” could explain positive ESP results. They found that 1.13% of the data were misrecorded (as expected), but of the errors made by believers, 71.5% increased the ESP scores, while for skeptics, 100% of their errors decreased the ESP scores.

Such is the power of fanatical disbelief. With such ardency, anything resembling objectivity is impossible. This experiment offers powerful confirmation of the extremely strong and insidious confirmation bias operating in the psyches of staunch skeptics, skewing their perceptions erroneously in favor of their preconceptions.

As author and originator of the Matrix Energetics healing technique Richard Bartlett advises in THE PHYSICS OF MIRACLES, ask yourself, “What if there are no rules?” That is a much more psi-conducive form of mental software to run because it opens your own perceptions of reality up to the massive variability and potential of the endless software programs of the Infinite.

The point is that if you are creating your own reality, as the eternal infinite made manifest in a localized humanoid form, you may as well employ the full force of an open and inquisitive mind in engineering your personal reality tunnel.

Copyright © Brendan D. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.

Brendan D. Murphy 
Co-founder of Global Freedom Movement and host of GFM Radio. He is also a certified DNA activator, author, researcher, activist, and musician. His acclaimed non-fiction epic THE GRAND ILLUSION: A SYNTHESIS OF SCIENCE & SPIRITUALITY is available here. Come and get your mind blown at


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