Professor David Fontana
One of the very many intriguing questions asked about ITC is why do some people obtain successful results, while others fail to do so? My initial answer to this question was that those who are successful must have mediumistic abilities that are utilised in some way by the communicators, while those who are unsuccessful lack such gifts. Just as in other areas of human behaviour, mediumistic abilities vary from individual to individual, and it seemed reasonable to suppose that unless one possessed such abilities ITC contacts are unlikely to occur. So interested was I in this question that I asked Anabela Cardoso to discuss the matter with her communicators from Rio do Tempo during one of her Direct Radio Voice (DRV) sessions, and when she did so I was surprised to learn that they replied that mediumship is in fact not necessary (Jurgenson and Raudive obtained similar statements from their communicators). It is not clear if the communicators were here referring to the undeveloped latent abilities we are all said to possess or only to the developed abilities of the practising medium, but nevertheless the general meaning is clear, and when Anabela asked her communicators who or what determines whether an investigator is successful or not, the answer was that it is the communicators themselves who decide.
These replies raise further interesting questions that are worth looking
at in turn, taking the issue of mediumship first. Is it possible that
Anabela’s communicators were wrong in their insistence that mediumship is not involved in ITC? This seems unlikely. At face value, the communicators themselves should be best placed to know what part, if any, mediumship plays in the receipt of their communications. But one way of putting this to the test would be to ascertain whether or not mediums make successful ITC investigators. To date, I know of few mediums who have attempted to work with ITC, but on the strength of the limited evidence available to me I am bound to conclude that they do not. This could of
course be because, already convinced that they are in touch with the
deceased through mediumistic channels, they are not motivated to invest
sufficient time and effort into ITC research, but for the present it is safer to assume that mediumship is not a significant factor in obtaining good ITC results. In support of this assumption, it must be admitted that it is in fact rather difficult to see how mediumship could be a factor. Mental mediumship involves allowing the mind to act as a channel for discarnate communications, and we have no explanation as to how this mental channelling could facilitate the electronic effects witnessed in ITC. It could be objected that although mental mediumship is not involved, physical mediumship might be. In physical mediumship discarnates supposedly use ectoplasm extruded from the medium’s body to manipulate material objects, and it is possible that ectoplasm (or whatever other energies are involved) could somehow be used to influence radio waves. Against this argument is the fact that physical mediumship is a very rare gift indeed, and we can hardly suppose that the relatively large numbers of people who reliably report successful ITC results are unknowingly acting as physical mediums. Furthermore, physical mediums almost always have to be in deep trance before phenomena occur. By contrast, no ITC investigator is to my knowledge entranced during their research.
The process of communications through ITC would thus seem fundamentally different from that of mediumship, and ITC communicators have in fact insisted that one of the advantages of ITC is that communications are not contaminated in any way by the intermediation of the human mind, as may happen during mediumship. However, if mediumship is not involved, could the human mind nevertheless play a part in ITC – possibly even be solely responsible for it – through the unconscious use of psycho-kinetic (or PK) ability – the ability of the mind to influence directly the behaviour of material objects? This possibility may appeal to some, but the PK effect is at best very weak, and we have no experimental evidence (or theoretical model) to explain how ITC communicators could utilise this minimal ability in order to produce the lengthy and coherent communications received by investigators such as Marcelo Bacci, Hans Otto König, Maggy and Jules Harsch-Fischbach, and Anabela Cardoso. In addition, people who can demonstrate PK effects with reasonable consistency under carefully controlled laboratory conditions are as rare as good physical mediums, and as with physical mediumship it seems unlikely in the extreme that all those who have obtained successful ITC results since Jurgenson back in the 1950s are all the unknowing possesers of powerful psycho-kinetic abilities.
If mediumship and PK appear not to enter the picture, this takes us to the
second point insisted upon by Anabela’s communicators, namely that it is
they who determine which of us will obtain successful communications. If
this insistence is correct, we are bound to ask why should some of us be
chosen for success rather than others? And is there anything we can do to
help ourselves to be among those chosen? One possible answer is that those who have a real need to obtain communications, either because of
bereavement or some deep-seated desire to answer the fundamental questions of life and death, are the ones who achieve selection, but there are many others. If we are able in the future to reach a point in the development of ITC where a sufficient number of individuals are all obtaining successful results under controlled conditions, we could use interviews and questionnaires to find out if they display common characteristics that may commend them to the communicators. For example are women more successful than men or vice versa? Does age appear to be a factor, with older people perhaps obtaining better results than younger? Are there social factors involved, such as marital status? Does religious or spiritual belief play a part? Are personality factors involved, with introverts obtaining better results than extraverts, or extraverts proving more successful than introverts? Does a prior belief in the reality of survival predispose people to obtain good results? Do spiritual or religious affiliations play a part? In other words, we could attempt to find out if there are common factors among the pool that appear to mark them out for selection by communicators.
Until such a pool comes into existence, or until we can persuade
communicators themselves to tell us what criteria they use in choosing
people with whom to work, we are left to answer these questions only with
informed guesses based upon research in other areas of psychical research.
For example some years ago research by leading British psychologist
Professor Hans Eysenck indicated that extraverts performed significantly
better on tests of telepathy and clairvoyance than introverts (which rather
surprised me at the time, as I had supposed results would point in the
opposite direction). Other research suggests that women do slightly better
on telepathy tests than men, and that on certain tests children may
out-perform adults. People who believe in the possibility of paranormal
abilities consistently outperform those who do not believe (the so-called
‘sheep-goats’ effect, first identified by Gertrude Schmeidler), and in
recent tests at the University of Gothenberg by Professor Adrian Parker in Sweden people following New Age practices and philosophies performed better on tests for psychic abilities (as did artists and musicians) than those who simply believed in the paranormal but without direct experience.
However, whether these findings help us predict who will obtain successful
ITC results or not is unclear. Possibly, just as ITC differs in other ways
from other psychic experiences, it may also differ in this respect. Let us
hope that as more and more information about ITC becomes available to us we may be able to come up with some definitive answers.
In the meanwhile we can speculate on what other personal qualities in
investigators may commend them to communicators. From discussions with Anabela Cardoso, it seems clear to me that the following may be among them.
1. An open mind – that is, the willingness to accept that the world
is a very mysterious place, that our science has not provided
answers to this mystery, and that life itself is the biggest mystery of all.
We know that in all other areas of the so-called paranormal,
rigid scepticism and a determinedly closed mind, has a strongly
inhibiting effect upon results. And if communicators are able
to make contact through ITC, why should they waste whatever
passes in their world for time upon people who are determined
not to believe in the possibility of an afterlife?
- A sense of commitment. Similarly, why should communicators
waste whatever passes for time in their world upon investigators
who cannot be bothered to set aside a regular time and place
in which to try to receive ITC contacts?
- The right frame of mind. Just as scepticism may not commend
itself to communicators, so may not a mind so busy with other
concerns that it pays scant attention during ITC sessions,
asks half-hearted and thoughtless questions, and (if using EVP)
spends little time listening to tapes on playback in order to
catch the first subtle, half-heard contacts.
- Courage. Communications received by Anabela and otherssuggest that communicators are anxious not merely to
demonstrate their personal survival, but survival as a
universal principle. Thus they are likely to wish to work
with people who have the courage to publish their results,
whatever the cost to their professional and personal lives,
or who at the very least demonstrate their readiness to
allow others to publish these results and who do not seek
- A critical mind. It is all too easy to be deceived into
thinking one is obtaining communications when in
reality there is nothing there. We know from experiments
in the psychology laboratory that people claim to ‘hear’
voices when listening to white noise if told that voices
are present. If the white noise is provided by tuning
a radio between two stations, there is the added risk of
misinterpreting faint radio transmissions as spirit voices.
A very great deal of damage is done to the credibility of
ITC research if claims are made to be receiving communica-
tions when it is all too readily apparent that nothing is
- A readiness to learn. If questions and answers are possible
using DRV it is possible that information will be given at
variance with one’s existing belief systems. This should not
simply be taken on trust of course, but if one already has
confidence in communicators, then it may be that existing
belief systems will need to be changed or modified.
I am sure that the Editor of the ITC Journal, Dr. Anabela Cardoso, would be
interested in publishing letters from successful investigators in which
they give us their thoughts on the reasons behind their success.