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Press Release

God Helmet Experiment Finally Replicated

Independent God Helmet researchers have ruled out suggestibility as an explanation for its altered states, sensed presences and otherworldly effects.

Jun. 12, 2015 / PRZen / CURITIBA, Brazil -- A recent scientific publication demonstrates that the effects from the God Helmet (shown in many documentaries creating artificial mystic experiences) are not due to suggestion or suggestibility in subjects, as some critics have suggested.  A pair of researchers in Brazil stimulated the temporal lobes of their subjects with fluctuating magnetic fields (also used in the God Helmet experiments), and then analyzed the words the subjects used to describe their experiences.  Working independently, they found that the subjects who did not receive any stimulation (the control subjects) spoke about their experiences differently than the ones who did receive the magnetic stimulation.  Published in the Journal Of Consciousness Exploration and Research, the report said: "Analysis of the subjects’ verbal reports, using Whissel’s Dictionary of Affect in Language, revealed significant differences between subjects and controls, as well as less robust effects for suggestion and expectation."

The God Helmet experiments received media attention because one percent of the subjects had visions of God, eighty percent had feelings of a "sensed presence", and the other 20 percent had either minor effects or none (or had experiences they didn't report).  These research efforts were led by Dr. Michael A. Persinger, noted for having published over 400 scientific journal articles.  Persinger is the director of Laurentian University's Behavioral Neurosciences Research Group.

The new laboratory report follows a debate between a Canadian neuroscience research group who have been doing God Helmet studies for 20 years, and Swedish researchers who specialize in the psychology of religion.  The debate has received attention in the field of neurotheology, the study of the neural basis for religious experience and belief.

The Swedish group, led by Dr. Pehr Granqvist, had obtained hardware and software from Dr. Persinger in 2000, but did not get any results from it.  They criticized Persinger, saying that his results were due to suggestibility.  After studying their research report, Persinger replied that their experiment was not set up correctly. The signals, delivered using magnetic fields, were run too fast, and were also not run long enough.

The recent experiment in Brazil was not as ambitious as some of Persinger's efforts.  It didn't try to give the subjects visions of God.  Instead it gave the subjects the same kind of magnetic stimulation, and then analyzed the words they used to talk about their experiences.  Persinger used the same experimental method in one of his early studies, in 1993, and Tinoco & Ortiz were able to replicate the effect in 2014.

Persinger's critics have called for independent replication of his God Helmet effects, and it has finally appeared.  It doesn't answer a lot of the questions Persinger's experiments have raised, but it does finally show that the effects really appear.  Debates will go on, but at least one question ("is it real?") has been answered ("yes").


Persinger's original study and Tinoco's replication are listed below:

Richards, Pauline M., Michael A. Persinger, and Stan A. Koren. "Modification of activation and evaluation properties of narratives by weak complex magnetic field patterns that simulate limbic burst firing." International journal of Neuroscience 71.1-4 (1993): 71-85.

Tinoca, Carlos A., and João PL Ortiz. "Magnetic Stimulation of the Temporal Cortex: A Partial “God Helmet” Replication Study." Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research 5.3 (2014).

Source: Carlos Tinoco

Press release distributed by PRZen