Can Channelers Give Accurate Responses to Questions from Scientists?

April 10, 2024
IONS Science Team

Throughout history, people have tapped into different mental states to glean insights from realms beyond everyday physical reality. This process has been known by various names like channeling, prophecy, oracle, or spiritual communication. No matter what it’s called, the essence remains the same: the channeler serves as a conduit to convey wisdom believed to stem from otherworldly beings or dimensions. The true source of information is unknown, and might be the unconscious mind, a higher self, telepathic connections, or non-physical entities – or all of the above. 

This mystical and wondrous phenomenon has spanned the globe for over three millennia, cropping up in diverse cultures and milieus. One possible explanation for why channeling has stuck around for so long is because many cultures think it provides valuable and valid information. Take, for instance, the spiritual practices of Candomblé, Kardecismo, and Umbanda in Brazil. There, mediums enter trance-like states to connect with spirit agents who carry important messages, like diagnosing illness, prescribing cures, or warning the community about potential dangers.

What other types of information do channelers tap into? Channeling encompasses a wide range of information types, including guidance, wisdom, descriptions of non-physical realms, future predictions, healing methods, and scientific knowledge. Is the information truly valid and accurate? There have been a few studies exploring the accuracy and usefulness of channeled information, especially regarding deceased individuals. However, the results from these studies are mixed, so we need much more research. Despite this, channeling has been credited with providing valuable insights and even scientific breakthroughs, as seen in the case of mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who believed that he received many mathematical formulas from the Indian goddess Namagiri and Saraswati.

However, not everything that is channeled is accurate, and there have been cases of fraud. Since we don’t yet have adequate tools to confirm or deny the true source of channeled information, it might make more sense to focus on whether the information is true and helpful rather than worrying about where it comes from. 

To learn more about how helpful channeled information can be for answering scientific questions, we launched an exploratory study. We asked fifteen channelers from the United States and Italy to answer questions both when they were channeling and when they weren’t. We wanted to see if their answers matched up between the two states. We also wanted to see if different channelers said similar things and look for common themes across the answers. Also, we had scientists look at the answers to see if they could be useful.

What to ask the channelers?

We reached out to a hundred scientists, inviting them to suggest some science questions to pose to the channelers. We narrowed down the list to 10 scientific, philosophical, and metaphysical questions. During three one-hour video chat sessions, we asked the channelers to tackle the questions twice over: first, using their everyday rational mind in a non-channeled state, and then, answering again through a channeled state. 

The questions were: 

  1. The physicist describes an observation as a “collapse of the wave function,” or as a possibility turning into actuality, or as a realization in mind of one branch of the multi-Universe. From your vantage point, what does an “observation” look like?
  2. How do you explain the succession of incarnation experiences in a timeless dimension?
  3. Who or what prepares the physical body for his/her own incarnation? How is it created?
  4. (Italy) What month and year will the next supernova occur, and in what part of the sky (specific constellation if possible, or north or southern hemisphere)?
  5. (US) Just as Planck’s constant sets the scale of quantum phenomena and the fine structure constant the scale of electromagnetism, is there a universal constant(s)  that characterize the mind/matter interaction? What is the magnitude of dimensions of this (these) constant(s), and how could we go about measuring these numbers?
  6. What is what humans call “matter” made of?
  7. Why is it that with each new incarnation or experience of life, we are not reminded of all the previous experiences and of our true nature?
  8. What is love?
  9. What is the nearest exoplanet that harbors intelligent life?
  10.  What creates life in plants, animals, bacteria, etc.?
  11. What is the nature of dark matter, and how could it be detected?

We had a panel of three judges go through the answers to every question, giving them a rating on a scale from 0 (meaning no correspondence) to 3 (meaning good correspondence with relatively little differing information/content). After they finished, we averaged out their scores.

What did we find?

Let’s take a look at the findings.

Was there correspondence between channeled and non-channeled answers? As we expected, the answers given when the channelers were in their normal state and when they were channeling didn’t match up much, and this was the case for all the channelers, no matter what the question was.

Was there correspondence between channelers on channeled answers? Surprisingly, there was hardly any similarity in the answers given by different channelers for each question, which goes against what we expected.

Did channelers report accessing information from the same source? Contrary to our hypothesis, there wasn’t strong consistency among the sources mentioned, with only four channelers reporting the same source across questions and three offering different sources depending on the question. They cited a variety of sources for the information they received, including from collective beings from another universe, God energy, Jesus, The Light, and more. 

Were there common themes for each question across channelers? We discovered consistent themes in the channeled responses for several of the ten questions, although not all questions yielded cohesive themes. 

Did scientists find the channeled information useful? After gathering all the responses, the team organized them and forwarded them to the scientists who proposed the questions. The scientists were then asked whether the answers made sense to them, if anything new was stated that they did not already know, and if any of the information was useful and/or actionable? Overall, the scientists didn’t think the answers were helpful and didn’t learn anything new from them.

What can we take away from this study?

This study breaks new ground by exploring whether a group of people can enter a state of channeling and respond to similar questions. We wanted to see if channeling taps into a higher intelligence than our own, possibly with more knowledge.

However, our study didn’t quite confirm our expectations, as there was low agreement between channeled and non-channeled answers, and hardly any consistency across different channelers for each question. We also didn’t see strong evidence that the channelers were tapping into the same source of information. However, we did notice some common themes in the responses, which gives us some insights for future research.

Since this study was exploratory, we can learn a number of things that can improve the next round of research. For example, the agreement between judges on their ratings wasn’t as strong as we hoped, ranging from 33% to 78%. We need to improve how we evaluate the correspondence in future studies, maybe by refining our judging process or using more advanced automated methods to analyze the responses.

While our study is just the beginning, it gives us ideas for future research on using channeling to get useful information. For example, Ramanujan’s channeled math shows that channeling could offer valuable insights. But we need better methods to make this idea practical. If we can do this well, we could use channeled information to inspire scientific discoveries and tackle important issues. Imagine if we could find new solutions to our problems, no matter where they come from. That’s something worth pursuing.

Dr. Wahbeh is currently launching a second study with Dr. Tressoldi. This time, trance channelers will be asked questions about what the afterlife is and similarities and differences in their answers will be assessed.

Read the publication this blog is based on.

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