The Out-of-Body Experience (herein referred to as ‘OBE‘ or by the technical term ‘conscious projection‘) has historically attracted the attention of researchers seeking to verify its existence by empirical means – a number of experiments employing a variety of empirical techniques have been conducted in the past.

Had this research been related to analysis of a different phenomenon, the results could be said to conclusively corroborate its existence and properties; nonetheless, due to the nature of the OBE, the collection of objective physical evidence is not easily achieved and satisfaction of the demands of positivist, conventional scientific community remains impracticable.

The subjective character of most OBEs makes personal experimentation the method of choice for validation of the phenomenon. A worthy analogy relates to the validity of dream research methodology – dreams are experiences of a variety that are even more subjective than OBEs, lacking any objective elements at all.

The only indications of the existence of dreams are indirect and take the form of the electroencephalogram trace and the observable REM of an individual during sleep – but research on dreams still requires correlation with a report of the dream and no objective verification can be made of the specific content of the dream itself. Proving the existence of dreams to the satisfaction of conventional science would require the existence of a device capable of recording dreams and making their contents available to impartial observers thus allowing verification of the dreamer’s report of their experience.

Yet the fact that all (or most) of us experience and recall dreams allows us to be certain of the existence of dreaming as a phenomenon, and research does not strive to prove the ‘dream’ experience but rather to amplify understanding of it. Hence, it can be appreciated that in instances of research into subjective phenomenon, personal experience plays a vital role.

Whilst the results of this experiment may contribute to the body of evidence supporting the notion of the OBE as a factual phenomenon, this research project is not primarily concerned with proving the existence of such experiences. It moves forward with the investigation of the phenomenon, focusing on the research question of how the ‘mind’ perceives, interprets and recalls the information learned through OBEs.

The model employed to approach the OBE in this research specifies that the individuality (the consciousness) actually leaves the body and can act in an extraphysical dimension; i.e., it adopts the hypothesis of the OBE as an objective phenomenon. As such, consciousness, is considered to be a synonym of the individuality rather than just an attribute of the physical brain; therefore, surviving bodily death (known in parapsychological studies as the Theta phenomenon).

The relative knowledge we have amassed nowadays about how our five senses perceive, identify and comprehend sensed information can help individuals and scientists alike to better understand the process of information acquisition.

Similarly, conscientiological and scientific research into ‘non-physical’ phenomena would benefit greatly from a more in-depth understanding of how the para-brain ‘senses’ extraphysical reality and how this information is translated and incorporated into the physical brain.

Other related questions such as (1) are there any personal characteristics that interfere in this process?; (2) do environmental conditions in some way affect the “transference” of information to the brain?; also come to mind as issues that would be helpful if they were better understood.

The experiment is designed to establish details of how the projector (OBEer) perceives the physical world from a non-physical perspective (seeing a physical image while projected) and how he/she organizes their framework of ideas or beliefs in order to understand and describe the reality perceived.

The general research plan consists of monitoring individuals’ accounts of their attempts to reach a pre-established, remote target during their OBEs and later analysis of the accuracy of their description of that target. The experiment involves teaching various OBE techniques to the participants who are invited to attempt to ‘fly’ to a locked target room where an unknown image, randomly selected, is displayed in a computer screen.

The main objectives of this research project are:

  1. To begin systematic collection of data related to the process of acquiring visual information in the extraphysical dimension;
  2. To identify the variety and features of physical images that are most noticeable to the projected consciousness (OBEer);
  3. To understand the factors that influence the interpretation of the image perceived;
  4. To search for elements that may help to understand the mechanisms that are involved in the ‘translation’ of the extraphysical perception into intraphysical language and to look for indications of the method of recall used by the physical brain to recover information stored in the para-brain;
  5. To collect data related to the way in which individuals construe their experiences and the extent to which their mental and cultural framework interferes with or otherwise influences their interpretation of a perceived image;
  6. To verify how and to what extent environmental, cultural, physical, mental and emotional idiosyncrasies interfere with the individual’s capacity to carry out and recall the OBE;
  7. To establish if particular categories of projective techniques improve extraphysical acuity;
  8. To amass further elements to facilitate analysis of extraphysical lucidity and intraphysical recollection;
  9. To expand conscientiological knowledge about extraphysical cognition and interpretation in order to identify more effective means to support (1) conscientiological research into para-cognition and (2) the creation of new pedagogic strategies by conscientiology instructors to teach individuals to produce the OBE phenomenon at will.

Completion of the research question and objectives, theoretical evaluation and statistical and qualitative analysis will be facilitated by the gradual, ongoing accumulation of data until achieving a desirable number of experiences to allow conclusive results.

Documents used to collect and register data during the experiment includes:

1. Authorization from Participants – a statement signed by the participants acknowledging their consent to their experiences being examined in this research.

2. Questionnaire: General Information About the Participant – a self-administered questionnaire to collect personal information about the participants, such as their age, gender, cultural background, health condition, previous OBE experiences, etc.

3. Questionnaire: Results and Evaluation of the Experiment – a self-administered questionnaire designed to be completed at the conclusion of each projective session, detailing personal descriptions of the occurrences, perceptions and sensations experienced by the participants during that session.

4. Record of Environmental Conditions – notes defining the physical conditions of the Experiment Room during each session (temperature, humidity, position of the participants’ bodies in relation to the cardinal points, the lunar calendar, meteorological conditions, and any special occurrences).

5. Certificate of Authenticity of the Computer Program Script – a document declaring the authenticity of the computer program script employed (to ensure that the program – transcribed below – was the software run during each session of projective attempts), signed by the auditor and one of the researchers each session.

6. Declaration of Reliability and Neutrality – a document, signed by the auditor and one of the researchers at the conclusion of each projective session, describing in sufficient detail the image displayed on the computer screen during the preceding session and confirming that (1) the Target Room remained locked closed at all times during the experiment, (2) that no individual was able to physically view the image, (3) that the auditor remained sitting outside the locked door of the Target Room for the duration of the experiment and (4) that the image had not been displayed on the screen of the computer until after the researcher and the auditor had left the room and locked the door.

7. Declaration of No Suggestion Received – a document signed by participants at the conclusion of each workshop, formally declaring that they were not informed by any means of the nature, type, or description of the images in the image bank stored on the computer and used during the experiment.

Future redesign of the methodology:

The following points outline current proposals for the development of the existing methodology that would be interesting to incorporate in future experiments.

  • Some revisions that can and will eventually be completed in this area of research include the insertion of a means of objective detection of the presence of projected consciousnesses in the Target Room. The use of some sort of sensitive electronic device to detect the presence of the projector is not ideal, as there is no known technology readily available at the present time with the capability to guarantee detection of a non-physical presence (Alegretti, 1990); however, it is the ‘least bad’ option and attempts to include technology such as an infra-red camera will be included in future experiments.
  • Regarding the use of real three-dimensional objects, one method to allow this approach in place of computer images whilst still avoiding telepathic interference, would be the construction of a robot capable of randomly selecting a target object from a box or shelf with a number of pre-selected objects and placing it in a pre-determined location. However, such a method would impose a reduction of the number and nature of possible targets.
  • After the full battery of experiments are conducted and before the final conclusions, the researchers intend to invite independent judges to examine the descriptions of the images provided by the participants in order to have their opinion and analysis about the participant’s perceptions.
  • Increase the number of session, extending the experience from 3 to 7 days.

Researchers: Nanci Trivellato and Wagner Alegretti

Note:

The complete description of the methodology and research plan involved in this project,
as well as full discussion and preliminary results are available in the Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress of Projectiology and Conscientiology.