Context: The study of mediumship is important because if mediumistic abilities were real, they would provide empirical support for non-reductionist theories of the mind, thus having major implications to our understanding of the mind-brain relationship. This study investigated the alleged mediumship of Chico Xavier, a very prolific and influential "medium" in Brazil. Objective: To investigate the accuracy of the information conveyed in Xavier's "psychographed" letters (i.e., letters allegedly authored by a deceased personality) and to explore the possible explanations for it. Method: After a systematic search for Xavier's psychographed letters, we selected one set of 13 letters allegedly written by a same spiritual author (J.P.). The letters were initially screened for the identification of items of information that were objectively verifiable. The accuracy of the information conveyed by these items and the estimated likelihood of the Xavier's access to the information via normal means were rated using Fit and Leak scales based on documents and interviews carried out with the sister and friends of J.P. Results: We identified 99 items of verifiable information conveyed in these 13 letters; 98% of these items were rated as "Clear and Precise Fit" and no item was rated as "no Fit." We concluded that normal explanations for accuracy of the information (i.e., fraud, chance, information leakage, and cold reading) were only remotely plausible. These results seem to provide empirical support for non-reductionist theories of consciousness.
We are grateful to Dr Silvio Seno Chibeni, Dr Homero Vallada, Guy Lyon Playfair, Dr Etzel Cardeña, MS Cintia Alves da Silva, Paulo Rossi Severino, and Dr Wellington Zangari for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article and for their encouraging support to our research.
Grant support: This research was supported by a Grant 2010/11047-0 from FAPESP, Brazil (São Paulo Research Foundation)
- mind-brain relationship