The official site of bestselling author Michael Shermer The official site of bestselling author Michael Shermer

Out of Body Experiment

September 1999

Michael Shermer travels to Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada, to strap on the “God Helmet” in neuroscientist Michael Persinger’s lab that duplicates out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, alien abductions, and other paranormal phenomena.

topics: , , , , , ,

7 Comments to “Out of Body Experiment”

  1. Solon Fox Says:

    Skeptic that I am, I naturally needed to learn more about this “God Helmet” experiment. Unfortunately, the experiment itself has been debunked, ‘Electrical brainstorms busted as source of ghosts’ – Naturenews 2004

    It’s really either time to remove this video or at least add a few sentences about how a double blind study failed to reproduce the same results. You may have simply been duped by the power of suggestion. Expecting to sense something under the magnetic effects of the God Helmet, you did.


  2. also a skeptic Says:

    The experiment has not been debunked at all. Persinger has published a couple of papers debunking the debunkers. It turns out that the experiment trying to reproduce the god helmet’s effects were set up wrong, so they didn’t end up with the right fields. Persinger: “They didn’t replicate it – not even close”. Persinger is still at work, and still doing experiments. It just goes to show you that when one scientist is trying to duplicate another’s work, the first one has to have some control over the experiments – but never, of course, have contact with the subjects. Persinger has done scores of experiments, and the so-called debunkers did only one. It wasn’t just what the experimenters were expecting, either. They have published stuff where their expectations were not confirmed. They got results, but not the ones they thought they were going to get. Shermer’s experience was more than just expectation. He couldn’t know what to expect.

    The god helmet may not be a portal to the divine, but it’s more than just expectation. When many experiments say ‘yes’, and one says ‘no’, the skeptics will always believe the one that says no.

  3. demetrios babalis Says:

    Hi solon and also another skeptic,

    I do not think that this video needs to be removed, yet I would like to share that Dr. Persinger is not necessarily engaging in only science, but in metaphysics, too.

    Metaphysics is a form of non-science. A pseudoscience.

    Dr. Persinger is free to explore what ever he has a passion for and in whatever means he has available to him, yet let us not forget:

    Dr. Eugenie Scott:
    “Science is limited to explaining just the natural world. Science is limited to natural cause. Science cannot test explanations involving supernatural cause.”

    That is all I can think to share of and add to this dialogue.
    Best wishes,
    demetrios b.

  4. dedra Says: life after death

  5. John Connor Says:

    I have had OBEs before and I assure everyone, after listening to the test subjects of the God-helmet that none of them had an OBE. During an OBE one does not simply sense presences or have feelings of waves and in no way does one have to try and interpret what is happening. During an OBE there are consistent processes that occur sequentially.

    They should rename the God-Helmet the brain scrambler.

    I object to scientists using unscientific and generalized statements that are universal qualifiers such as everyone named Bernard is bald. Dr. Persinger statements,”I have duplicated every aspect of god or paranormal experience.” takes credit for recreating every and all experiences! “All experiences are in the brain.”

    Maybe some phenomenon can be chalked up to magnetic field exposure however the vast majority may not be.

    Sometimes similar experiences are not the same but are actually many different happenings and can be explained by multiple and different reasons/conclusions. I assure you there are many things going on that in the years to come will be differentiated instead of lumped in all together as being the same experience.

  6. Raymond Says:

    The experiment that claimed to debunk the God Helmet has itself been debunked.

    The apparatus has many reports of spiritual and paranormal experiences, and that kind of thing is a red flag to skeptics. There is so much passionate feeling about religion from athiests that you can’t trust the skeptics any more than you can trust belivers. They jury is still out, and there may not be any verdict in our lifetime.

    FYI, the OBEs and sensed presences didn’t happen at the same time, AFAIK.

  7. Craig Aaen-Stockdale Says:

    Yes, the debunkers’ debunking has been debunked, and the results are published where? An anonymous looking website. Hmm.

    The Granqvist et al replication may not have been perfect (although Persinger et al’s criticisms of it frankly ring rather hollow), but we now have converging evidence from several independent groups (Granqvist et al 2005, French et al 2009, Gendle & McGrath 2012) that the paranormal-like effects claimed to be produced by magnetic fields have not proved reproducable.

    Of course, Persinger and colleagues have contested these studies too, but I challenge you to find a defense of Persinger (or a criticism of his detractors) not written by himself or a collaborator. Or an anonymous internet troll.

    Persinger’s research has been leapt on by sceptics looking for an explanation of God and I am mildly disappointed by how seriously he has been taken in some sources (Shermer’s The Believing Brain, for a recent example). As Raymond points out above – for very different reasons than my own -“you can’t trust the skeptics any more than you can trust belivers”. In fact, just that argument has been made previously in my article:

    As sceptics, we should be sceptical of stuff. Even stuff that seems to support our position.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how Akismet processes your comment data.