View single post by Innes Smith
 Posted: May 2nd, 2014 04:54 AM
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Innes Smith


Joined: May 2nd, 2014
Posts: 1
Hi Jan,
My name is Innes Smith & I'm the Vice President of the SSPR. I don't know who your cousin was talking to, but I'm happy to set the record straight as regards the SSPR's position in relation to the investigation that I think you're referring to. Especially as I was the investigator!

Here's a copy of my interim report which states my opinion so far. It hasn't changed. Unfortunately due to work and other commitments I have been unable to work the group again.

Anyway, here it is:

An Open Letter Regarding the EVP/ITC Work of Capaldi, Kirkbride et al

To whom it may concern,
I am writing in my capacity as an investigator for the Scottish Society for Psychical Research on the work of Mr. Domenic Capaldi and Mrs. Alison Kirkbride. Mr. Capaldi and Mrs. Kirkbride have asked me to write a brief interim report and I am happy to do this with the proviso that my opinions may change when I have further opportunity to assess the evidence. So, this statement should in no way be taken as the conclusive or final word of the SSPR investigation into the work of Capaldi, Kirkbride et al.

On the 23rd of June 2012, I visited Mrs. Kirkbride at her home accompanied by Mr. Capaldi. Several EVP/ITC sessions took place during the day, with Mrs. Kirkbride operating a digital recorder and a laptop computer, with Mr. Capaldi sitting opposite her and remotely filming the sessions with a remote digital camcorder. Mrs. Kirkbride would play a foreign language as a background noise (on her laptop), and then record a question, leaving approximately 30 – 40 seconds of noise on the file. This file would then be bounced into a basic sound-editing programme and Mrs. Kirkbride would check through the recording for messages.

It was my intention to simply observe the session without introducing any controls. Mrs. Kirkbride had already expressed nervousness about being observed and stringent controls may have affected her ability to produce psi/elicit an anomalous recording. I was more concerned with observation, interviewing the participants and getting a ‘good result’, rather than obtaining evidence under controlled conditions. This was in part due to the SSPR’s previous observation of Capaldi & Kirkbride working, which produced results which all parties regarded as disappointing.

The SSPR had previously co-opted an investigator, Mr. Bryan Saunders to sit with Mr. Capaldi & Mrs. Kirkbride, on the 12th of November 2011. I reproduce an extract from Mr. Saunders report, which sums up his opinion on the messages received: (My) initial assessment would put these into the category of natural white noise, stray cross modulation, apophenia and apophenic bias. The playing of a language sub text whilst attempting to find voices on a recording is fraught with issues and considering that some of the EVPs presented are due to replaying the file backwards and you get a rather large perceived bias. Logic would say a Russian language would not be conducive to receive English language evps but consider phonetic pronunciation and phonemes of words and already an apophenic bias can be raised as a valid concern for misinterpretation of results.

From my own observations – and assessment of the messages received (at this point) - I agree with Mr. Saunders. The methodology compromised the messages, and in my opinion – in regard to messages received in a spoken language against a spoken language background noise – apophenia, expectancy and experimenter bias are responsible for the so-called messages.

It was with some interest that the final session was an attempt to record a message in Morse code. Back in September 2011, I recommended to Mr. Capaldi and Mrs. Kirkbride that they ask for messages in Morse code, as this would eliminate the ambiguity of the messages received in the spoken word. Since then they have had a promising response from the alleged spirit communicators and Mr. Capaldi and Mrs. Kirkbride have also expanded their research group to include specialists who can translate Morse code.

After several aborted attempts to analyse the recordings made (they were accidentally deleted by a tired Mrs. Kirkbride), the audio was played back: interlaced between the foreign language backing-track was Morse code – loud and clear. This message, translated by Mr. Eric Cole, is as follows: WE WELCOME INNES TO PROSSIDA. ‘Prossida’ according to the experimenters, is the name of the ITC Communication Group/Laboratory ‘on the other side’.

The last session provided a clear message – one that is convincingly beyond the possibility of apophenia. This leaves only two possibilities: that it is a genuine paranormal communication – or fraud.

This is a most encouraging result, because if such results can be replicated, experimental controls can be introduced to remove the possibility of fraud – and quality evidence can be obtained.

The experimenters may feel slighted that fraud is something that must be controlled for, but psychical research has a long history of fraud – and if there is an opportunity for fraud, then sceptics will merely assume that fraud has taken place. I do not believe as many of my colleagues do, that ‘there’s no point in convincing sceptics’. In my opinion, convincing the sceptic is what makes psychical research a scientific endeavour. Every other branch of science has to argue its case: psychical research should be no different.

In short: I look forward to continuing to investigate Capaldi, Kirkbride et al. I already have in mind several simple controls that can be introduced to exclude the possibility of fraud – and thus silence those who would accuse them of fraud.

I am glad that ‘Prossida’ have rolled out the welcome mat. I only hope that the most hospitable Mrs. Kirkbride and the affable Mr. Capaldi are equally welcoming of further experiments with stringent controls.

Innes Smith
SSPR Senior Investigator