The Book
Hi Victor,

We hope you and Wendy are well. Mark and I wanted to thank you for your continued support of The Windbridge Institute and for always listing Windbridge in your weekly Afterlife Report. We also wanted to respond to your previous commentaries about university research.

While it is true that only a very small percentage of universities (or other research institutions) actually perform paranormal research, what is preventing more investigators from engaging in such research has much more to do with money than with “negligence” on the part of the institutions.

It is important to note that universities do not, for the most part, fund research. They provide space and the basics like electricity for laboratories, but the researchers themselves are responsible for acquiring the funding needed to support their studies. This funding is used to pay the salaries of the research staff as well as to pay for equipment, computers, copiers, paper, printer ink, books, journal subscriptions, society memberships, travel for academic conferences, etc., etc., etc. Researchers most often acquire funding through grants offered by--­in the US­--the federal government or certain private organizations. Rarely, funding is provided by generous individuals interested in certain types of research. Usually, however, individual donations go more to support the university infrastructure (for example, new buildings) than actual research studies. In addition, at a university, close to half of the acquired funding regardless of its source goes to the institution for overhead costs and does not directly support research.

This paradigm­--again, at least in the US­--forces researchers in any and all scientific fields to choose between the studies they would like to do and the studies for which they can acquire funding. Thus, it is the “negligence” of the funding organizations and not the universities per se that most often prevents parapsychological research from being done. Granted, the stigma of performing fringe parapsychological or psi research (“the boo taboo” as Dr. Dean Radin calls it) does its share of preventing researchers from embracing these fields, but if there was money in them, it is only logical that a lot more individuals would go for it anyway. No one should be blamed for wanting a job that allows for the expenses of shelter and food.

The reality is that there is very, very, VERY little funding available to perform parapsychological research. This in turn also makes it difficult to “waste” funding on systematic replication studies that would solidify the reality of the phenomena being studied. Researchers and funding organizations alike prefer to use the limited resources to investigate new questions or use new methods. This, however, prevents studies from being replicated in order to increase the amount of evidence for any particular phenomenon.

The current global economic crisis is making matters even worse. A number of groups in the parapsychology community as well as in other fields are not able to offer the grants this year that they usually do. In the November 7th 2008 issue of the journal Science, the “News of the Week” section included an article by Jennifer Couzin about the impact of current economic woes on the funding of scientific research. “Among the first to feel the slowdown,” writes Couzin, “are charitable foundations and other philanthropies, which provide billions of dollars in funding to scientists each year, including support for innovative, risky research that the government may be reluctant to back.” Scientists all over the US are losing their jobs because even philanthropic organizations which rely on endowment income are working with limited support. At Windbridge, we strongly rely on the support of our members and donors in order to perform “innovative, risky research that the government may be reluctant to back.”

At Windbridge, we were very honored to receive funding this year from what may be considered the largest parapsychological research grant available in the world: The Bial Foundation, associated with a major pharmaceutical company of the same name in Portugal, offers a biannual grant for research in parapsychology and psychophysiology. We are so grateful for this support, but to put it in perspective, the yearly funding from a Bial research grant is a mere fraction of the yearly funding provided by US federal grants from, for example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Science Foundation (NSF) for mainstream scientific research studies. Our project­--an objective analysis of mediums’ abilities that is a replication of a previous study I performed while at a university­--requires four researchers as well as equipment, office supplies, etc. and even with little to no overhead costs at Windbridge, the Bial funding does not go as far as we would like and there are few other options available for us to support that and the other studies we hope to do this year.

So while ignorance and materialist denial on the part of university researchers and administration definitely play a part in the absence of psi research at those institutions, the real issue is most likely an economic one.

Best wishes,
Julie and Mark

Julie Beischel, PhD
Director of Research

Mark Boccuzzi
Director of Operations

The Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential