Evidence for out-of-body experience as a “real” or veridical phenomenon

One of the first researchers to perform laboratorial experiments on the OBE was psychologist Dr. Charles Theodore Tart (1937 - ). In 1966, he invited a young projector to participate in a series of experiments in the sleep laboratory of the University of California - Davis. The historical projectiological experiments took four nights in which the projector - "Miss Z" - was to lay down and try to exit the physical body, while connected to a series of devices that measured her physiological conditions. The objective of the experiments was the identification of a quasi-randomly generated five-digit number, approximately 1.5 meters above her head (impossible to be physically observed).

From Monday to Wednesday, the projector reported having seen the clock while floating out of body. At the times informed by her, the devices demonstrated unusual brain-wave patterns. An absence of rapid-eye movements (REM) was also observed. On Wednesday night, Miss Z identified the target number: 25132. The brain-wave pattern during conscious projection was different from the patterns during waking state, sleep and other altered states of consciousness (an expression proposed by Tart himself).

Between 1965 and 1966, the same pioneer researcher studied Robert Allan Monroe in 8 occasions in the Electroencephalographical Laboratory of the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia. Equipment like EEG, ECG, and EOG was employed, much to the discomfort of the projector. Monroe was asked to read a 5-digit, quasi-random number on a shelf placed 2 meters above the floor.

During the first seven nights, he was not successful. On the eight night, he had two brief lateral projections. On the first one he witnessed some strangers talking at an unknown place at a distance, fact which could not be confirmed. However, on the second occasion, Monroe correctly described, outside the room, the woman technician and a man, later identified as her husband.The ocular movements were slower than in regular sleep. The Stage I brain wave pattern, typical of natural sleep with dreams, was observed almost immediately after Monroe laid down – an extremely rare event, as this stage normally occurs after 80 to 90 minutes of sleep without dreams. The heart rate was between 65 and 75 beats per minute.

A study by Janet Lee Mitchell (American Society for Psychical Research, ASPR) and Karlis Osis on the traveling clairvoyance of surrealist painter and writer Ingo Swann resulted in 8 of 8 correct target observations with 1 in 40,000 probability for a chance occurrence. When Swann reported his vision was outside of his body, there was loss of electrical activity and faster brain wave impulses in the visual areas in the occipital lobes. During this state, there was great drop in alpha activity in the right hemisphere than the left, which other organic functions remained normal.

Osis also carried out a “fly-in” experiment with around 100 projectors who had as a target a small office in the fourth floor of ASPR, where they were to inspect four target objects (unknown to them, to be observed in a certain time frame and angle of observation). Only 15% of them reached this office. Osis did not think the results of this experiment were significant, because even the best projectors often described objects in terms of their form and colors and not as material things with their exact names. This experiment demonstrates the hypothesis that the process of information acquisition or cognition during projection of the consciousness is different from what would be expected from physical experience and even from common extrasensory perception.

There were, however, interesting observations. Some, like a projector from Toronto who observed a fire in a nearby block, got sidetracked by other things along the way. Others saw the objects with distortions, or reported circular or global vision (seeing in all directions simultaneously). A barrier placed on the table to separate the different targets was seen as transparent by many of them.

Alexander Tanous related that his awareness traveled several times from Portland (Maine) to the target locale during the experiment. Not only did he correctly observe the objects and shape of the table, but also noted a tea cup, which indeed was unintentionally left there by another researcher. Elwood Babbitt also described the target correctly in his third fly-in from Massachusetts. He also correctly drew the shape and location of a broad, small plant, a painting, and small sculpture of a smiling girl. Teddy Marmoreo of Toronto projected to the site at night before the experiment and saw Osis sleeping at ASPR – an account which was confirmed.

In 1977, Robert Lyle Morris and Stuart Harary of Duke University carried out an inventive experiment. From the University of California – Santa Barbara, Harary (his body connected to various physiological devices) was to visit Spirit, his two-month old cat, whose movements in a cage were detected by sensors at Duke. Sharp behavioral difference was observed when the projector was out of body and near the cat, which became passive, calm, without meowing as if it was seeing or feeling Harary’s presence. When he wasn’t projected, Spirit was continuously trying to exit the cage it was in and meowed 37 times. The results were considered p=.01. Simple telepathy was excluded through a false projection, where Harary simply imagined the occurrence. In posterior studies where the animal did not have affinity with Harary the results were insignificant.

In 1979, Karlis Osis and Donna McCormick verified that a projector correctly identified a random optical target, in a locked room replete of sensors, 114 of 197 (57.87%) trials in 20 sessions. During these 114 “hits,” kinetic effects were observed demonstrating the presence of something subtle but nonetheless physical. Noteworthy as well, are visual experiences during out-of-body experiences (including near-death experiences) by the blind - including congenital cases - as investigated by Dr Kenneth Ring.

Related to the OBE, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Laboratory Precognitive Remote Perception (PRP) studies in 1987 already contained 334 formal trials obtained by some 40 “percipients”, who generated written descriptions of an unknown geographical target where the “agent” was located before, during, or after the description. Then, they were to fill out a check sheet of questions for later analytical judging. Results have varied from “photographic precision,” to partial correspondence of environment and/or components, to completely inaccurate. Major geometrical distortions, differences in emphasis of parts of the scene, progression from accurate to inaccurate description or vice-versa are not uncommon. Brenda Dunne and Dr. Robert Jahn therefore created a more systematic quantitative assessment procedure. The one that combined effectiveness with simplicity the best was through a list of thirty statistically weighted, binary descriptor questions, preceeded by free response (notes, sketches).

IAC has run the Image Target Project, an experiment that invited people from all over the world to drop by a locked room at IAC Florida in Miami with a computer monitor displaying a picture. The picture was randomly selected by a computer. A similar, ongoing experiment series by Wagner Alegretti and Nanci Trivellato, Projective Field, brings dozens of projectors together to a ballroom for a weekend of eight OBE attempts. After several editions, these experiments have captured relatively rare but uncanny OBE and remote viewing observations of photographic precision. A similar pilot study with physical objects and physiological monitoring at the University of São Paulo’s sleep laboratory with lucid projectors of the Center for Higher Studies of the Consciousness was recently televised on the high-profile national TV show Globo Reporter (“Projeção Astral”). The highlights there were that one projector saw the right number of target objects and described some; and both projectors had an OBE where they assisted people who passed on in a flood before it hit the national news.

More research is required and ongoing, especially on the near-death experience, which may be considered a type of OBE. IANDS has an informative page on important past studies, which represent a formidable set of additional evidence for the projection of the consciousness as a veridical phenomenon.

The ultimate evidence and understanding, however, can only be grasped by scientific and lay individuals through the accumulation of personal experience with the OBE: sensing how real and awake it can feel (at least as much as material reality), making accurate remote observations, having OBE's simultaneously with others, and obtaining uncanny detailed information from the "dead" that can be confirmed. The proof is in the pudding!

Nelson Abreu
IAC Los Angeles

Posted by International Academy of Consciousness