Sunday, 14 February 2010

However Improbable Vol 1 Issue 1

However Improbable Vol 1 Issue 1 - Spring 1996

Editorial: Issue One

Welcome to the first issue of the Anglia Paranormal Research Group’s newsletter. We hope you enjoy it and subsequent issues. The intention is that it will be quarterly, assuming sufficient material.

Any feedback would be welcomed, either privately or for publication. We aim to make the newsletter a lively forum for the dissemination of ideas and information, but to achieve that we need as many people as possible to become involved. As the group does not hold any corporate views there isn’t a ‘party line’ to toe, so no need to feel that a particular opinion would be unacceptable. If you have something to say, put it forward. Suitable illustrations would also be appreciated.

We might also consider taking paid advertising in future, should the opportunity arise, as a way of raising funds. Let us know what you think.

The crucial thing about the group is that it has to involve a two-way process. Members should keep an eye out for cases which arise in their localities. The local newspaper, the radio, even gossip in the post office, might bring possible cases to light. Members should think of themselves as field officers, gathering material that the group as a whole can then investigate. Good cases are rare, which means that we must not miss any opportunities.

The newsletter, as well as being a means of keeping members informed, is also designed to be of use in publicising the group. Ask if your local library would consider taking a copy. The more we get our name known the greater will be the chances of both increasing our membership and hearing about the really juicy cases. It’s up to you!

The Psi Researcher: Back issues

The Society for Psychical Research publishes a magazine for its members called The Psi Researcher. We have been lucky enough to come into possession of a quantify of back issues (not a complete run), and these will be sold to swell APRG coffers. Copies of 15 issues are in stock, dated between October 1991 and November 1995, but quantities of each vary wildly, from 2 to 37. So if you want all those available you’ll have to hurry. A couple of the earliest issues have a little staining on the staples but the rest are in pristine condition. We are charging 50p each plus postage, a massive bargain for hours of pleasure. Let me know if you are interested. Oh, and I have this car...

Survival Pact Scheme

About eight years ago, David Christie-Murray, a well-known author of books on speaking in tongues and reincarnation, launched a Survival Pact Register. It would contain details of pairs who undertook that when one died, s/he would attempt immediately to communicate to the survivor. If the survivor felt that such communication had occurred, a report would be sent to David, acting as Registrar, before attempting to ascertain whether the other had indeed died.

It can be seen that partners would have to be carefully chosen, because they should not be so close that the survivor would be immediately informed of the death of the other (family members, for example) nor yet so distant that the survivor might not hear that the other had died. The pair should be close enough to enable an empathetic bond to develop, as this would hopefully enhance the chances for post-mortem communication to occur.

Member of APRG might in due course be able to fulfil these conditions. We expect that a bond will develop through conducting investigations, but obviously we would not expect relationships to be as close as with those with whom one has everyday dealings. If this state occurs, pairs could register with David. There is no effort involved, and hopefully the scheme would not be tested for many years, but it could be useful in the long term. There are many cases of crisis apparitions on record, but the evidence is usually supplied to researchers after the person experiencing it has discovered that a death has occurred. A case would be stronger if it could be established that the experience had happened before the news was received, and the Register is an ideal way of putting the subject on a more scientific footing.

A few personal details are required for registration: Name, address, age and sex for each partner; their relationship; and “personal belief or disbelief in human survival of death”, to see if there is a sheep/goat effect. If one person receives what is felt to be some form of communication, s/he should immediately inform a third party, and both should write down the details, as fully as possible. These should be sent independently to the Registrar, without any comparison. Then, and not before, should the partner ascertain whether the communication is valid. The Registrar should be informed of the outcome not less than one day later than that on which the reports were sent, even if it transpires that the partner is still alive. A record of failures will enable statistics to be compiled, and are thus important in their own right.

If individuals would like to become involved, either using another APRG member as a partner, or indeed somebody outside the group if they fulfil the criteria, they can get in touch with David at Imber Court Cottage, Orchard Lane, East Mollies, Surrey KT8 0BN (enclosing a SAE).

A simple experiment

From time to time, people write to the newspapers to ask if pyramids keep razors blades sharp or food fresh. There seems to be no reason why they should have these properties, but recent correspondents in that highly scientific organ The Daily Mail have been enthusing about the effect of pyramid power on razor blades. This would be a simple proposition to test, and might make an interesting experiment for members to try at home.

A simple pyramid can be constructed out of cardboard (I’ve seen nothing comparing the effectiveness of D-I-Y compared to proprietary structures, so we can leave that factor aside for the present). The size should not be too crucial, although best results might be obtained by placing the blade in the centre, say balanced on a matchbox. Rather than suggest a standard size, it might be better if people construct one to their own design, keeping a careful record of what they did. Then, should we get positive results with a particular type, we could attempt to replicate it.

Other considerations need to be taken into account. There are some variables which are difficult to control, such as beard growth (I am assuming that mainly male members would wish to participate, but females should not feel excluded if they wield a razor regularly) which could fluctuate in vigour due to say hormonal influences, but if shaving is done on a regular basis that should not be too much of a problem. Obviously the type of blade should not be changed during the experiment. A writer to the Mail suggested that pyramids worked on cheap blades, or even those shoddy disposables, so perhaps quicker results could be obtained by using these rather than a top of the range type.

As well as using a pyramid, a control blade - of the same brand - should be used to compare how long they last. It should also be used in the same way, so that if you decide to use a blade for one day and put it in the pyramid for two, or use it every day and store it in the pyramid the rest of the time, you should do the same with the control blade, except that it should be kept well away from the pyramid. Test and control blade use should perhaps be alternated, to minimise any seasonal variations (do beards grow faster in winter?) but they could be used consecutively if having more than one blade on the go is awkward. A record should be kept of the way in which the test was done and the number of times each blade was used. Everything except storage should be identical, and then if the pyramid-influenced blade lasts for significantly more shaves than the other, we can conclude that the pyramid probably did have an influence.

Of course the problem is in determining when a razor blade is finished. People will have different tolerances of bluntness, and apart from using an electron scanning microscope it is going to be difficult to make comparisons across individuals’ blades. But if a control blade is used self-reports should be fairly reliable, bearing in mind the power of self-deception which could lead a believer in pyramid power to give an unfairly generous score to the test blade. To put it on a more scientific footing, an assistant could mark the two blades, say with different colour Tipp-Ex so that the shaver would not know which was which.

Have a go at this, and send the results to me. It should be fun, and who knows, we may make that paradigm-shifting discovery which will put us up there with Newton and Einstein!

Competition corner

We have a paperback copy of Jim Schnabel’s entertaining book on crop circles, Round in Circles, to give away. In order to increase the number of people writing for this newsletter, it will be given to the person who, in the judgement of the editors, has written the best article in the first two issues (the editors themselves are naturally excluded from consideration).