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History And Mystery

Retroactive prayer: a preposterous hypothesis?

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 18 December 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1465

Rapid Response:

Response to: Adam Jacobs, 21 January 2004 Re: Re: A Scientist's Perspective

Our paper did not defend Leibovici's study but was in fact critical
of it and suggested alternative explanations and confounding variables
that may have influenced its outcome. We did advocate, however, giving
the possibility of retro-temporal intentionality a fair hearing because of
abundant evidence supporting this possibility. This includes five
experiments of physicist Helmut Schmidt involving time-displaced mental
influence of pre-recorded inanimate random events. One of Schmidt's papers
is co-authored with Professor Henry P. Stapp of University-California
Berkeley, who is perhaps the current dean among quantum theorists. The
overall results of these studies was P = 0.0001. This approaches Jacobs'
recommended P < 0.00001 as constituting the "extraordinary evidence" he
requires before accepting retroactive influence. Yet Schmidt's studies
are not the whole of it. Braud reviewed a total of 19 studies of 233
sessions involving attempts to influence, retroactively, various living
systems, ten of which yielded statistically significant results.

We emphasize that the issue of retroactive mental influence does not
hinge on Leibovici's study, but on a great many experiments in living and
nonliving systems that are much more precise than Leibovici's. We
furthermore suggest that, while more evidence is needed, it is already
quite extraordinary. We suggest that the consistency of these findings
points to a deep principle within nature: the spatiotemporal nonlocality
of consciousness.

-- Brian Olshansky, MD
-- Larry Dossey, MD


Braud W. Wellness implications of retroactive influence: exploring
an outrageous hypothesis. Alt Ther Health Med. 2000;6(1):37-48.
References to all of Schmidt's experiments mentioned above can be found in
Braud's paper.

Schmidt H. Collapse of the state vector and psychokinetic effect.
Foundations of Physics. 1982; 12(6):565-581.

Schmidt H, Stapp H. PK with prerecorded random events and the
effects of preobservation. Journal of Parapsychology. 1993;57:331-349.

Competing interests:
We are the authors responding to our manuscript

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 January 2004
Brian Olshansky
Professor of Medicine
Larry Dossey
University of Iowa 52242