In the 1970's, a group of Canadian parapsychologists wanted to attempt an experiment to create a ghost, proving their theory that the human mind can produce spirits through expectation, imagination and visualization.
The actual experiment took place in Toronto, Canada, in 1972, under the direction of the world-renown expert on poltergeists, Dr A. R. G. Owen.
The members of the experiment proposed an idea... by using extreme and prolonged concentration, they could create their ghost through a collective thought form: Non-physical entities which exist in either the mental or astral plane. In order to create this ghost and make it as 'real' as possible, it needed a life story; a background in which the ghost could 'relate' to.
They named the ghost they were attempting to bring into focus "Philip Aylesford" and created a tragic story, explaining to the fullest and in great detail, his life, and the few actions that lead to his tragic death.
Step two was contacting Philip. In September 1972, the group began their "sittings" and after some initial problems the group attempted to duplicate the atmosphere of a classic spiritualist séance. They dimmed the room's lights, sat around a table and surrounded themselves with pictures of the type of castle they imagined Philip would have lived in, as well as objects from that time period.
Within a few weeks, Philip made contact. Although he did not manifest in spiritual form, appearing as an apparition or ghost, he did make contact through a brief rap on the group's table. "Philip" answered questions that were consistent with his fictitious history, but was unable to provide any information beyond that which the group had conceived. However, "Philip" did give other historically accurate information about real events and people. The Owen group theorized that this latter information came from their own collective unconsciousness.
The sessions took off from there, producing a range of phenomena that could not be explained scientifically. His "spirit" was able to move the table, sliding it from side to side. On more than one occasion, the table chased someone across the room. All hands were clear of the table when this occurred.
In conclusion the experimenters were never able to prove the 'how' and the 'why' behind Philip's manifestation. Was Philip a direct result of the group's collective subconscious or perhaps did they conjure an actual entity that simply latched onto the story?
While some would conclude that they prove that ghosts don't exist, that such things are in our minds only, others say that our unconscious could be responsible for this kind of the phenomena some of the time.
Another point of view is that even though Philip was completely fictional, the Owen group really did contact the spirit world. A playful (or perhaps demonic, some would argue) spirit took the opportunity of these séances to 'act' as Philip and produce the extraordinary psychokinetic phenomena recorded.
Whatever caused the manifestation it seems that it adapted itself to the expectation of the audience, playing the role of the spirit they intended to contact. Since all was based on fiction it could not be the spirit of Philip so what else could it be?
The Philip experiment has been very extraordinary to say the least. It seems to proof that séances can indeed create the type of manifestations that are often reported by participants of such activities. The atmosphere in such a 'sitting' might make people more sensitive for noticing weak noises and signs that normally are overlooked as communication or interaction with non-physical entities.
During the Philip experiment the participants where convinced that some kind of interaction was going on.
With knocks and rasps heard coming from the table, the group's questions where answered and eventually the table moved, danced and reacted on the group's presence.
If this would happen in any ordinary séance it would definitely cause anxiety, fear, excitement and would easily contribute in having people believe in ghosts, spirits, demons and non-physical intellectual entities that are capable of communicating with us.
Since the 'Philip' group did expect some kind of manifestation as result of their experiment, their intention and expectation might have contributed to the final result. The intentional creation of the right atmosphere might also have helped to make possible the phenomena. However the resulting interaction with 'Philip' has been rather basic, no voices, no floating bodies, only knocks and moving objects, classical manifestations of ghosts. A real interactive conversation with a ghost was never accomplished.
Would it not be great to be able to communicate openly with ghosts, it could teach us a lot about them, what they are, what attracts them to communicating with us etc. This does not seem to have happened in the Philip experiment and as I am aware it never happened. The reason might be that it just can't be done. We might want to, but from the spirit's point of view it might not be possible. Of course without such a bi-directional conversation we are limited in what we can know about ghosts and spirits.
The result of a communication based on a table that 'raps and knocks' is highly depending on the expectation of the participants. Since the group determines the direction of the conversation, it is likely that the outcome will be approximately what it is expected to be. It does not come close to a real discussion. The manifestations in the 'Philip' experiment only proved that something was manipulating the table and impersonated the ghost of 'Philip' which of course in it's own right is amazing.
In the 'Philip' experiment, questions were asked aloud, that would mean that the spirit was able to hear and/or understand spoken language. Since the team could not hear directly the answers of the spirit (although sometimes a soft whispering was noticeable), the replies came as knocks and rappings from the table, of course this is nothing close to an interactive communication. In a real discussion both parties can lead the direction of the conversation and can choose the topics that are being discussed. When one party can only reply with yes and no then the conversation is limited to the topics that the leading (verbal) party comes up with. Which might be very determined indeed.
Lets assume that the effects witnessed during the experiment were real and that objects like tables can be manipulated invisibly. Of course we still don't know how but if it can be done then science will eventually find out how to replicate these effects.
There will likely be a time that we will have devices that can manipulate objects over distance in such a way that you cannot tell the difference between extraordinary psychokinetic phenomena produced by a ghost and the consequence of operating a super duper high tech device. The result will be spooky effects that cannot easily be explained if you do not know of the existence of such a technology.
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