A Call for an Open, Informed Study of all Aspects of Consciousness

This call, signed by 100 researchers from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, psychiatry, medicine, physics and other disciplines, was published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Neuroscience Research in January 2014.

Science thrives when there is an open, informed discussion of all evidence, and recognition that scientific knowledge is provisional and subject to revision. This attitude is in stark contrast with reaching conclusions based solely on a previous set of beliefs or on the assertions of authority figures.

Indeed, the search for knowledge wherever it may lead inspired a group of notable scientists and philosophers to found in 1882 the Society for Psychical Research in London. Its purpose was “to investigate that large body of debatable phenomena (…) without prejudice or prepossession of any kind, and in the same spirit of exact and unimpassioned inquiry which has enabled Science to solve so many problems.”

Some of the areas in consciousness they investigated such as psychological dissociation, hypnosis, and preconscious cognition are now well integrated into mainstream science. That has not been the case with research on phenomena such as purported telepathy or precognition, which some scientists (a clear minority according to the surveys conducted at Wikademia) dis-miss a priori as pseudoscience or illegitimate.

Contrary to the negative impression given by some critics, we would like to stress the following:

  1. Research on parapsychological phenomena (psi) is being carried out in various accredited universities and research centers throughout the world by academics in different disciplines trained in the scientific method (e.g., circa 80 Ph.D.s have been awarded in psi-related topics in the UK in recent years). This research has continued for over a century despite the taboo against investigating the topic, almost complete lack of funding, and professional and personal attacks (Cardeña, 201).
    The Parapsychological Association has been an affiliate of the AAAS since 1969, and more than 20 Nobel prizewinners and many other eminent scientists have supported the study of psi or even conducted research themselves (Cardeña, 2013).

  2. Despite a negative attitude by some editors and reviewers, results supporting the validity of psi phenomena continue to be published in peer-reviewed, academic journals in relevant fields, from psychology to neuroscience to physics e.g., (Storm et al., 2010; Bem, 2011; Hameroff, 2012; Radin et al., 2012).

  3. Increased experimental controls have not eliminated or even decreased significant support for the existence of psi phenomena, as suggested by various recent meta-analyses (Sherwood and Roe, 2003; Schmidt et al., 2004; Bösch et al., 2006; Radin et al., 2006; Storm et al., 2010, 2012, 2013; Tressoldi, 2011; Mossbridge et al., 2012; Schmidt, 2012).

  4. These meta-analyses and other studies (Blackmore, 1980)suggest that data supportive of psi phenomena cannot reasonably be accounted for by chance or by a “file drawer” effect. Indeed, contrary to most disciplines, parapsychology journals have for decades encouraged publication of null results and of papers critical of a psi explanation (Wiseman et al., 1996; Schönwetter et al., 2011). A psi trial registry has been established to improve research practice.

  5. The effect sizes reported in most meta-analyses are relatively small and the phenomena cannot be produced on demand, but this also characterizes various phenomena found in other disciplines that focus on complex human behavior and performance such as psychology and medicine (Utts, 1991; Richard and Bond, 2003).

  6. Although more conclusive explanations for psi phenomena await further theoretical and research developments, they do not prima facie violate known laws of nature given modern theories in physics that transcend classical restrictions of time and space, combined with growing evidence for quantum effects in biological systems (Sheehan, 2011; Lambert et al., 2013).

With respect to the proposal that “exceptional claims require exceptional evidence,” the original intention of the phrase is typically misunderstood (Truzzi, 1978). Even in its inaccurate interpretation what counts as an “exceptional claim” is far from clear. For instance, many phenomena now accepted in science such as the existence of meteorites, the germ theory of disease, or, more recently, adult neurogenesis, were originally considered so exceptional that evidence for their existence was ignored or dismissed by contemporaneous scientists. It is also far from clear what would count as “exceptional evidence” or who would set that threshold.

Dismissing empirical observations a priori, based solely on biases or theoretical assumptions, underlies a distrust of the ability of the scientific process to discuss and evaluate evidence on its own merits.

The undersigned differ in the extent to which we are convinced that the case for psi phenomena has already been made, but not in our view of science as a non-dogmatic, open, critical but respectful process that requires thorough consideration of all evidence as well as skepticism toward both the assumptions we already hold and those that challenge them.

  • Daryl Bem, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Cornell University, USA
  • Etzel Cardeña, Thorsen Professor of Psychology, Lund University, Sweden
  • Bernard Carr, Professor in Mathematics and Astronomy, University of London, UK
  • C. Robert Cloninger, Renard Professor of Psychiatry, Genetics, and Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, USA
  • Robert G. Jahn, Past Dean of Engineering, Princeton University, USA
  • Brian Josephson, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge, UK (Nobel prizewinner in physics, 1973)
  • Menas C. Kafatos, Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics, Chapman University, USA
  • Irving Kirsch, Professor of Psychology, University of Plymouth, Lecturer in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, USA, UK
  • Mark Leary, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, USA
  • Dean Radin, Chief Scientist, Institute of Noetic Sciences, Adjunct Faculty in Psychology, Sonoma State University, USA
  • Robert Rosenthal, Distinguished Professor, University of California, Riverside, Edgar Pierce Professor Emeritus, Harvard University, USA
  • Lothar Schäfer, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Physical Chemistry, University of Arkansas, USA
  • Raymond Tallis, Emeritus Professor of Geriatric Medicine, University of Manchester, UK
  • Charles T. Tart, Professor in Psychology Emeritus, University of California, Davis, USA
  • Simon Thorpe, Director of Research CNRS (Brain and Cognition), University of Toulouse, France
  • Patrizio Tressoldi, Researcher in Psychology, Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy
  • Jessica Utts, Professor and Chair of Statistics, University of California, Irvine, USA
  • Max Velmans, Professor Emeritus in Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
  • Caroline Watt, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Edinburgh University, UK
  • Phil Zimbardo, Professor in Psychology Emeritus, Stanford University, USA
  • P. Baseilhac, Researcher in Theoretical Physics, University of Tours, France
  • Eberhard Bauer, Dept. Head, Institute of Border Areas of Psychology and Mental Hygiene, Freiburg, Germany
  • Julie Beischel, Adjunct Faculty in Psychology and Integrated Inquity, Saybrook University, USA
  • Hans Bengtsson, Professor of Psychology, Lund University, Sweden
  • Michael Bloch, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of San Francisco, USA
  • Stephen Braude, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, University of Maryland Baltimore County, USA
  • Richard Broughton, Senior Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, University of Northampton, UK
  • Antonio Capafons, Professor of Psychology, University of Valencia, Spain
  • James C. Carpenter, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA
  • Allan Leslie Combs, Doshi Professor of Consciousness Studies, California Institute of Integral Studies, USA
  • Deborah Delanoy, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Northampton, UK
  • Arnaud Delorme, Professor of Neuroscience, Paul Sabatier University, France
  • Vilfredo De Pascalis, Professor of General Psychology, “La Sapienza” University of Rome, Italy
  • Kurt Dressler, Professor in Molecular Spectroscopy Emeritus, Eidg. Techn. Hochschule Zürich, Switzerland
  • Hoyt Edge, Hugh H. and Jeannette G. McKean Professor of Philosophy, Rollins College, USA
  • Suitbert Ertel, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Göttingen, Germany
  • Franco Fabbro, Professor in Child Neuropsychiatry, University of Udine, Italy
  • Enrico Facco, Professor of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, University of Padua, Italy
  • Wolfgang Fach, Researcher, Institute of Border Areas of Psychology and Mental Hygiene, Freiburg, Germany
  • Harris L. Friedman, Former Research Professor of Psychology, University of Florida, USA
  • Alan Gauld, Former Reader in Psychology, University of Nottingham, UK
  • Antoon Geels, Professor in the Psychology of Religion Emeritus, Lund University, Sweden
  • Bruce Greyson, Carlson Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA
  • Erlendur Haraldsson, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Iceland, Iceland
  • Richard Conn Henry, Academy Professor (Physics and Astronomy), The Johns Hopkins University, USA
  • David J. Hufford, University Professor Emeritus, Penn State College of Medicine, USA
  • Oscar Iborra, Researcher, Department of Experimental Psychology, Granada University, Spain
  • Harvey Irwin, former Associate Professor, University of New England, Australia
  • Graham Jamieson, Lecturer in Human Neuropsychology, University of New England, Australia
  • Erick Janssen, Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, Indiana University, USA
  • Per Johnsson, Head, Department of Psychology, Lund University, Sweden
  • Edward F. Kelly, Research Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA
  • Emily Williams Kelly, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA
  • Hideyuki Kokubo, Researcher, Institute for Informatics of Consciousness, Meiji University, Japan
  • Jeffrey J. Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religious Studies, Rice University, USA
  • Stanley Krippner, Professor of Psychology and Integrated Inquiry, Saybrook University, USA
  • David Luke, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology and Counselling, University of Greenwich, UK
  • Fatima Regina Machado, Researcher, Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil
  • Markus Maier, Professor in Psychology, University of Munich, Germany
  • Gerhard Mayer, Researcher, Institute of Border Areas of Psychology and Mental Hygiene, Freiburg, Germany
  • Antonia Mills, Professor First Nations Studies, University of Northern British Columbia, Canada
  • Garret Moddel, Professor in Electrical, Computer, & Energy Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
  • Alexander Moreira-Almeida, Professor of Psychiatry, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Brasil
  • Andrew Moskowitz, Professor in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Julia Mossbridge, Fellow in Psychology, Northwestern University, USA
  • Judi Neal, Professor Emeritus of Management, University of New Haven, USA
  • Roger Nelson, Retired Research Staff, Princeton University, USA
  • Fotini Pallikari, Professor of Physics, University of Athens, Greece
  • Alejandro Parra, Researcher in Psychology, Universidad Abierta Interamericana, Argentina
  • José Miguel Pérez Navarro, Lecturer in Education, International University of La Rioja, Spain
  • Gerald H. Pollack, Professor in Bioengineering. University of Washington, Seattle, USA
  • John Poynton, Professor Emeritus in Biology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • David Presti, Senior Lecturer, Neurobiology and Cognitive Science, University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • Thomas Rabeyron, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, Nantes University, France
  • Inmaculada Ramos Lerate, Researcher in Physics, Alba Synchrotron Light Source, Barcelona, Spain.
  • Chris Roe, Professor of Psychology, University of Northampton, UK
  • Stefan Schmidt, Professor, Europa Universität Viadrina, Germany
  • Gary E. Schwartz, Professor of Psychology, Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Surgery, University of Arizona, USA
  • Daniel P. Sheehan, Professor of Physics, University of San Diego, USA
  • Simon Sherwood, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Greenwich, UK
  • Christine Simmonds-Moore, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of West Georgia, USA
  • Mário Simões, Professor in Psychiatry. University of Lisbon, Portugal
  • Huston Smith, Prof. of Philosophy Emeritus, Syracuse University, USA
  • Jerry Solfvin, Associate Professor in Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, USA
  • Lance Storm, Visiting Research Fellow, University of Adelaide, Australia
  • Jeffrey Allan Sugar, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA
  • Neil Theise, Professor of Pathology and Medicine, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA
  • Jim Tucker, Bonner-Lowry Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia, USA
  • Yulia Ustinova, Associate Professor in History, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
  • Walter von Lucadou, Senior Lecturer at the Furtwangen Technical University, Germany
  • Maurits van den Noort, Senior Researcher, Free University of Brussels, Belgium
  • David Vernon, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK
  • Harald Walach, Professor, Europa Universität Viadrina, Germany
  • Helmut Wautischer, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Sonoma State University, USA
  • Donald West, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Criminology, University of Cambridge, UK
  • N.C. Wickramasinghe, Professor in Astrobiology, Cardiff University, UK
  • Fred Alan Wolf, formerly Professor in physics at San Diego State University, the Universities of Paris, London, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Robin Wooffitt, Professor of Sociology, University of York, UK
  • Wellington Zangari, Professor in Psychology, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Aldo Zucco, Professor, Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale, Università di Padova, Italy


Cardeña, E. (2014). A call for an open, informed study of all aspects of consciousness. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8:17.


Although for practical reasons only one author is listed, the call is a collective creation of the co-signatories.


Bem, D. J. (2011). Feeling the future: experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 100, 407–425. doi: 10.1037/a0021524

Blackmore, S. (1980). The extent of selective reporting in ESP ganzfeld studies. Eur. J. Parapsychol. 3, 213–219.

Bösch, H., Steinkamp, F., and Boller, E. (2006). Examining psychokinesis: the interaction of human intention with random number generators: a meta-analysis. Psychol. Bull. 132, 497–523. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.132.4.497

Cardeña, E. (2011). On wolverines and epistemological totalitarianism. J. Sci. Explor. 25, 539–551.

Cardeña, E. (2013). Eminent authors from other areas. Mindfield 5, 83–90.

Hameroff, S. (2012). How quantum biology can rescue conscious free will. Front. Integr. Neurosci. 6, 1–17. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2012.00093

Lambert, N., Chen, Y.-N., Cheng, Y.-C.,. Li, C.-M., Chen, G.-Y., and Nori, F. (2013). Quantum biology. Nat. Phys. 9, 10–18. doi: 10.1038/nphysS2474

Mossbridge, J., Tressoldi, P. E., and Utts, J. (2012). Predictive physiological anticipation preceding seemingly unpredictable stimuli: a meta-analysis. Front. Psychol. 3:390. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00390

Radin, D., Michel, L., Galdamez, K., Wendland, P., Rickenbach, R., and Delorme, A. (2012). Consciousness and the double-slit interference pattern: six experiments. Phys. Essays 25, 157–171. doi: 10.4006/0836-1398-25.2.157

Radin, D., Nelson, R., Dobyns, Y., and Houtkooper, J. (2006). Reexamining psychokinesis: comment on Bösch, Steinkamp, and Boller. Psychol. Bull. 132, 529–532. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.132.4.529

Richard, F. D., and Bond, C. F. Jr. (2003). One hundred years of social psychology quantitatively described. Rev. Gen. Psychol. 7, 331–363. doi: 10.1037/1089-2680.7.4.331

Schmidt, S. (2012). Can we help just by good intentions? a meta-analysis of experiments on distant intention effects. J. Altern. Complement. Med. 18, 529–533. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0321

Schmidt, S., Schneider, R., Utts, J., and Walach, H. (2004). Distant intentionality and the feeling of being stared at: two meta-analyses. Br. J. Psychol. 95, 235–247. doi: 10.1348/000712604773952449

Schönwetter, T., Ambach, W., and Vaitl, D. (2011). Does a modified guilty knowledge test reveal anomalous interactions within pairs of participants. J. Parapsychol. 75, 93–118.

Sheehan, D. (2011). Frontiers of time: quantum retrocausation. theory and experiments. AIP Conf. Proc. 1408, 255–278. doi: 10.1063/1.3663728

Sherwood, S. J., and Roe, C. A. (2003). A review of dream ESP studies conducted since the Maimonides Dream ESP programme. J. Conscious. Stud. 10, 85–109.

Storm, L., Tressoldi, P. E., and Di Risio, L. (2010). Meta-analyses of free-response studies 1992-2008, assessing the noise reduction model in parapsychology. Psychol. Bull. 136, 491–494. doi: 10.1037/a0019840

Storm, L., Tressoldi, P. E., and Di Risio, L. (2012). Meta-analysis of ESP studies, 1987–2010: assessing the success of the forced-choice design in parapsychology. J. Parapsychol. 76, 243–274.

Storm, L., Tressoldi, P. E., and Utts, J. (2013). Testing the Storm et al. (2010) meta-analysis using Bayesian and frequentist approaches: reply to Rouder et al. Psychol. Bull. 1, 248–254. doi: 10.1037/a0029506

Tressoldi, P. E (2011). Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence: the case of non-local perception, a classical and Bayesian review of evidences. Front. Psychol. 2:117. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg. 2011.00117

Truzzi, M. (1978). On the extraordinary: an attempt at clarification. Zetetic Scholar 1, 11–22.

Utts, J. (1991). Replication and meta-analysis in parapsychology. Statist. Sci. 6, 363–378. doi: 10.1214/ss/1177011577

Wiseman, R., Smith, M., and Kornbrot, D. (1996). Exploring possible sender-to-experimenter acoustic leakage in the PRL autoganzfeld experiments. J. Parapsychol. 60, 97–128.