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An Empirical Investigation of Alleged Mediumistic Writing

A Case Study of Chico Xavier's Letters

Paraná, Denise, PhD*; Rocha, Alexandre Caroli, PhD; Freire, Elizabeth Schmitt, PhD; Lotufo Neto, Francisco, MD, PhD*; Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, MD, PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2019 - Volume 207 - Issue 6 - p 497–504
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000999
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The scientific study of mediumship can contribute to the understanding of the mind-brain relationship. This study investigated a letter written by the influential Brazilian “medium” Chico Xavier, whose authorship was attributed to a deceased person. We identified the letter's pieces of information that were objectively verifiable, and we analyzed their accuracy based on documents and on interviews with the deceased's relatives, and the likelihood of Xavier's access to the information via ordinary means. All the 29 items of verifiable information conveyed on the letter were rated as “clear and precise fit.” The information conveyed was highly specific (e.g., names, dates, and specific events). Fourteen items (48.3%) conveyed information that was also very private. We concluded that ordinary explanations for accuracy of the information (i.e., fraud, chance, information leakage, and cold reading) were highly unlikely. We recommend further research on the phenomenon of mediumistic writing, particularly experimental controlled studies with exceptionally gifted mediums.

*PROSER, Institute of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, São Paulo; and

NUPES–Research Center in Spirituality and Health, School of Medicine, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, Brazil.

Send reprint requests to Alexander Moreira-Almeida, MD, PhD, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Faculdade de Medicina, Av. Eugênio do Nascimento s/n°, 36038–330 Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil. E-mail: alex.ma@medicina.ufjf.br.

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Online date: May 13, 2019

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