Placebo Symposium. Dick Bierman and I have just met with the rest of the organising committee for the bi-annual Bial Foundation Symposium. Bial Foundation symposia bring together parapsychologists and mainstream researchers in neuroscience and psychophysiology. The theme for the next meeting (30 March – 2nd April 2016) is placebo (broadly-conceived). We are inviting some awesome speakers! Big Kudos to Bial Chairman, Dr Luis Portela, for supporting the committee’s choice of topic, considering Bial is a pharmaceutical company. And while on the subject of placebo, an interesting recent study by Rutherford et al. (2014) shows that placebo response in antipsychotic medication trials has been increasing over time. The Mental Elf explains more, here.
Subtle environmental influences? Alan Watson, a civil engineer and ground investigation specialist, features in the Geological Society’s Online Geoscience this month. Watson has written a book entitled Gravity and Mind – Human Response to Tectonic Stress, in which he sets out data linking tectonic activity and human behaviour. In particular, Watson claims there are more riots and disorderly behaviour before compared to after earthquakes. This is one for the statisticians! More at the Geological Society’s website, here. (via @jonmsutton)
‘Quantum woo’ on the radio. BBC Radio 4’s Infinite Monkey Cage this week included Manchester University particle physics Professor Jeff Forshaw. The panelists ask: Why does quantum physics get more than its fair share of fringe elements of pseudoscience and alternative medicine? And is the perceived connection any more than metaphorical? UK folks can listen here.
PA and SPR join forces. It was announced somewhat belatedly this week that the Society for Psychical Research will hold its conference jointly with the Parapsychological Association, July 16-19 at Greenwich University, London. The SPR call for papers is here. PA announcement and call for papers is here.
Dogs ahoy! Rupert Sheldrake is co-authoring a novel with children’s author Kate Banks about two boys seeking to prove that their dogs know when they are coming home. More here (via @SPR1882) I struggled to find a suitable photo, but hope this one of a farmer disguising his car as a sheep-dog will entertain!