Is Channeling Real? Let’s Have Science Discover the Answer

April 27, 2016
Helané Wahbeh, IONS Director of Research

At a recent conference, I mentioned my interest in studying channeling and mediumship to my fellow scientists. An awkward silence fell across the group before one colleague turned to me and said, “You understand that telling people you want to study channeling is pretty much a career wrecker, right?” I paused to consider the question, and then replied, “Yes, I know that. But honestly, I can no longer NOT ask the questions.”

Channeling is an umbrella term the communication of information to or through a live human, from a source other than the physical as we know it. At IONS we pursue research on topics—like channeling—that fly in the face of long-held scientific dogma. In the true spirit of the field, we seek to investigate, methodically and rigorously, that which is undeniably part of the human experience but is not understood within the prevailing scientific paradigm.

I went to my first séance at 10 years old; I witnessed my grandmother, and other members of my family, going into a full trance and revealing information they would presumably have no way of knowing. Though scant, the research that has been conducted on channeling, including double- and triple-blind studies, indicates there is evidence that cannot be explained away as “fraud.” Nonetheless, investigation of channeling and related psi events are still not an acceptable course of study at academic universities.

Fortunately, at IONS I can study this phenomenon without fear of judgment or being ostracized. Along with other members of our research team, I have developed a five-year comprehensive research program to investigate, and hopefully answer, essential questions about channeling. We seek to answer questions like: What do we already know about channeling from published literature and unpublished sources?  How common is channeling and how does it work?  Can we verify the information? Can we identify and enhance the talent? This video below outlines this comprehensive plan, and gives details on how we hope to go about further clarifying this somewhat unusual phenomena.

With our current understanding of quantum physics and non-locality (which says that objects can be connected to one another outside of our understanding of space/time), channeling and other psi phenomena cannot be so easily dismissed as “unreal.” Our research will use rigorous and systematic methods to study channeling, without preconceived notions about what may or may not be “real.” We may come to learn that the process is complete “hocus-pocus” and that all mediums are frauds. And then again, we might not. A true scientist is open to either outcome. Through well-designed, blinded, unbiased studies, we will discover which outcome is correct.

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The biggest question is perhaps, even with rigorous science, would the world —would you —be willing to accept findings that indicate channeling is a real experience? Is the world ready to accept indications that consciousness exists beyond the human body? Stay tuned…

In this video, Helané outlines her five-year comprehensive research program designed to investigate essential questions about channeling.

Helané Wahbeh, ND, MCR is a Scientist at IONS and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University. Contact her at

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