Possible application of silicon photomultiplier technology to detect the presence of spirit and intention: three proof-of-concept experiments.

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CONTEXT: Research investigating the survival of consciousness hypothesis has been hampered by the lack of an independent measure of the purported presence of spirit (POS). Although numerous anecdotes involving electronic devices (including tape recorders, answering machines, and computers) claim that POS can be detected with sensitive electromagnetic sensors, little systematic laboratory research has investigated this possibility. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this exploratory laboratory research was to test the feasibility of using a state-of-the-art silicon photomultiplier system to detect low photon levels potentially associated with POS. A PCDMini photon counting device manufactured by sensL provided a sensitive measure of sums of photons over time. DESIGN: Three proof-of-concept experiments were conducted. Each included multiple five-minute trials of "invited spirit" conditions as well as baseline controls. One experiment included a set of 10 noninvited control trials as well as controls for experimenter intention per se. SETTING: Data were collected as part of a university laboratory devoted to researching advances in consciousness and health. PARTICIPANTS: The participants were purported spirits presumably motivated to participate in the research. INTERVENTION: The primary intervention was the experimenter's intention for purported spirits to enter the light-tight chamber on specified trials. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: In a light-tight chamber, the PCDMini device software counted and displayed individual sums of typically 13 to 25 photon detections per approximately 90-milliseconds time periods (in complete darkness, most time periods contained zero photons detected); the number of photon sums could be counted precisely in five-minute periods. RESULTS: The average number of photon sums was found to be significantly higher in purported POS trials compared with noninvited trials. Matched control trials as well as explicit experimenter intention trials showed no effects. CONCLUSION: Silicon photomultiplier devices may be sufficiently sensitive to investigate the POS and experimenter intention (psychokinesis) hypotheses. Copyright (c) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-171
Number of pages6
JournalExplore (New York, N.Y.)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Analysis
  • Chiropractics
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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