The Sacred Promise (Feb 19)

Yuma Uesaka

PSYCH 401

February 19, 2014

Week 6 (The Sacred Promise)

After watching Schwartz’s lecture about what experiments that implied the existence of spirits, I wanted to know more about his perspectives. So I decided to pick up one of his more recent books from Prof. Mann’s library called The Scared Promise. The section of this book I focused on was the portion where he explores the possibility of spirits having healing capabilities. One particular experiment he did was quite shocking, and I thought it would be great to share this with the class.

Dr Howard Hall holds two PhDs – one in experimental psychology from Princeton, and another in clinical psychology from Rutgers. He is currently a tenured faculty member at Case Western – the point is, he is not some random person off the street. He is also very spiritual, and practices a type of Islamic faith called Sufism. One of things Sufis practice is what is called Deliberately Caused Bodily Damage, or DCBD. The practitioner basically takes some sort of a sharp object, and inserts it into his body. It is claimed that experts can do this without experiencing any physical pain, and the wound is said to heal within minutes. Dr.Schwartz decided to have Dr.Hall perform DCBD in a laboratory setting, with EEG and GDV (Gas Discharge Visualization) machines running to measure his physical states.

Just like most of his experiements, Dr. Schwartz did his best to make it foolproof – he bought the tool (a metal ice pick) himself and brought it to the experiment himself so there is no trickery. Dr. Hall meditated and prayed for about 90 minutes, and then signaled that he was ready to insert the ice pick into his cheek. It took him about a minute to insert the ice pick into his cheek, and he kept the ice pick in his cheek for about 5 minutes, so that his EEG can be measured. He then took the ice pick out of his cheek. Upon immediately checking his cheek, there was a single drop of blood that appeared, and in about 1 minute, the wound showed no sign of inflammation or tearing. Interestingly, EEG frequencies during the insertion of the pick was very low (theta and delta activities).

Though there maybe ways to attack this experiment from a skeptical perspective (the experiment was fake or didn’t happen, or possibly explaining the phenomenon as some super placebo effect), but Dr. Hall claims that it was the spirit of Mohammad that showed up and allowed him to do what he did. It also happens to be that the mediums in the lab (there were a few watching the experiment) saw spirits.

For me, this was very shocking because if this experiment was completely genuine with no sort of tricks, it is something that is intriguing from both spiritual and scientific point of view! I would love to be in a situation where I can witness something like this happening.

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