Talk:God helmet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Alternative Views (Rated C-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Alternative Views, a collaborative effort to improve Wikipedia's coverage of significant alternative views in every field, from the sciences to the humanities. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.


Very long... McReady suggested in his comment line that I ask why he reverted the infobox I stuck in, so I am.---CH 14:04, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

I thought that Persinger's work was valid. Of course, I don't know for sure. Here are three links I found (among many), the third one says that his work was not replicated.

[1] [2] [3] Bubba73 (talk), 19:38, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

suggestion: put links into the article where all may benefit. Just because we provide a link doesn't mean wikipedia endorses the content. As always, it is up to the reader to decide. I have added these links. GangofOne 06:32, 12 March 2006 (UTC)


it's mccready. the disputed science box could go on many many pages and doesn't help. How can a helmet be an idea??? Mccready 10:02, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

See also?[edit]

I am puzzled why there is a link to Kevin Warwick here. On that page there is a link back here but on neither page do I find any information to justify the linking. Had there been such pertinent information which has subsequently been deleted since the links were first made?-- 20:25, 1 July 2006 (UTC)]

  • Hi, I added those reciprocal links between God helmet and Kevin Warwick on the basis that that both articles share a focus on experimental interfaces between technological hardware and human consciousness. Maybe that's a stretch and the connections need to be better spelt out or moved elsewhere. But that was the original rationale. Open to other views. Sincerely, James. Jtneill - Talk 07:52, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

quacks like a duck[edit]

If it walks like a duck, quaks like a duck and if it has "god", "-theology", "magnetic healing" and "placebo" written on it it is religion or Spirituality! If it wants to be a science but fails in verification it is also pseudoscience! --Ollj 20:17, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

What do you mean by verification? None of the matches on the ambiguation page seem relevant. Pending your response [I know I'm exhuming an old topic so I won't hold my breath :-p] I fail to see how it's necessarily pseudoscience, even though I'll view any conclusion with skepticism. To my mind, if those studying the god helmet were making conclusions such as "clearly, god exists, as these magnets suggest, based on the very high Gleeble readings on our God-O-Meter(tm)," that would be pseudoscience. It seems to me that they're doing what psychiatrists do; doing experiments and recording observations. They note that a significant majority of the test sample *reported* a divine experience when their heads were stimulated by magnetic fields. This is no less scientific than an experiment that finds that a significant percentage of those tested under psilocybin *reporting* divine experiences. Now, we can find criticisms based on low sample sizes, deviations from the scientific method, but if I'm not mistaken, that doesn't even make pseudoscience, just bad science. - malenkylizards (talk) 20:26, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

This article is clear pseudoscience. It is not science by an inductivist nor falsifiable account. The article, however, contains relevant information that would benefit from a general clean up. Scienceisgolden (talk) 10:37, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

Can somebody add this to reference?[edit]

I uploaded this on Youtube just for this case... Dr. Persinger's God Helmet —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cooolway (talkcontribs) 03:48, 15 August 2009 (UTC)

That is not a verifiable source. However, there seems to be enough refs for me to take off the additional refs tag. Clubmarx (talk) 16:32, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

The apparatus uses magnetic fields, and not EMF emissions?[edit]

What's the difference? Aren't those two descriptions of the same thing? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Robertwharvey (talkcontribs) 22:34, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

EMF emissions (which can even include visible light) are varieties of radiation, and/or electrons. Magnetic fields are neither radiation nor electrons. Electromagnetic radiation is composed of photons. Magnetic fields are not. Magnetic fields are not composed of the elementary particles than can interact with some organic compounds, nor are they composed of electrons, ions, or anything else encompassed by the word 'emission'. Hamlet 2010a (talk) 11:55, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
This is all rather pointless anyway, since the section (now removed) discussing EMF emissions doesn't explain why this distinction is causing "confusion" and who is getting "confused". Solenoids produce electromagnetic fields. So do TMS devices. So do fridge magnets. And the Earth, etc. I don't know why EMF emissions are even mentioned in this context. Famousdog (talk) 12:11, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
Solenoids only produce electromagnetic fields when dV/dt is non-zero. In the case of the God Helmet, dV/dt is zero — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:52, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Move to "Koren Helmet"[edit]

The name "God helmet" seems to be a sensationalist name coined by journalists for the apparatus that is properly named after its inventor, Stan Koren.Wegesrand (talk) 10:53, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Experiments preformed with the Helmet Support...[edit]

Do the experiments done with the helmet which cause the person to "feel" God support theism or atheism? Susan Blackmore and Michael Persinger himself both use it as evidence for atheism but many, many individuals who used the machine said that it either made them believe or strengthened their faith, and judging by the Dawkins interview on it it seemed he thought it supported theism as a device over atheism. So, could somebody set the record straight and say whether the machine's experiments, if true, support theism or atheism? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:10, 22 November 2010 (UTC)

If true, they would seem to suggest that "God" is a figment of the inner workings of the brain (a fairly strong attack on religion). Religious people would however, see the results as evidence of God's plan and (ir)rationalise them away as such. However, as somebody experienced in neuroscience methods and psychological research, I can tell you that I think Persinger's equipment have no meaningful effect on the brain and his results are better explained by the suggestibility of his subjects and somewhat lax methods, so I wouldn't put much store in them. Famousdog (talk) 11:27, 22 November 2010 (UTC)
The statement that Persinger's apparatus has no meaningful effects is based on a study by a swedish research group while Persinger's results, including the very limited number of subjects who saw God, are based on many studies. Further, QEEG has been used to monitor subjects receiving sessions in Persinger's lab, and measurable effects have appeared. The debate continues, and neither group has convinced the other to date.
As for whether these studies prove that God is an artifact of brain function, I think not. If there is a God, then 'He' could be reaching out to people seeing Him in a lab, as part of his 'divine plan'. The neural activity that associates with the perception of god could also be interpreted by a religious believer as indicating that someone is experientially cognizant of an objectively existing God. They might conceivably consider that the unique and recondite patterns of neural activity correlating with the perception of God offer proof of his existance. These studies, where about 1% of subjects reported seeing God, offer no proof for or against the existance of God. Hamlet 2010a (talk) 08:23, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Declaring interest[edit]

In keeping with Wikipedia policy, I would like to declare that, as member of Persinger's research group, and as one who has co-published with him, I have an interest in the Koren Helmet (AKA "God Helmet").Hamlet 2010a (talk) 23:35, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Hmmm. Well this clear conflict of interest certainly puts your complaints about the lack of edit summaries (see below) in the shade... Famousdog (talk) 21:42, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia asks editors to "Briefly describe the changes (they) have made". This appears to be a request for courtesy to other editors. You and I are not the only ones who contribute to this page. Edit summaries are good for all concerned. As for my declaration of interest, it follows wikipedia guidelines (which point out that interested persons are often the ones most qualified to contribute). Assuming an interest is equivalent to a conflict of interest in this case would disallow anyone who has worked with the God Helmet in it's original setting. Hamlet 2010a 09:56, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

This page is about the "God Helmet"[edit]

This page is about the God Helmet, but it seems to be slowly becoming a page about the debate between Persinger And Granqvist. That is a separate subject. One failed attempt to replicate does not mean that all such attempts will fail. Further, the apparatus has been used in studies outside neurotheology. If the Persinger/Granqvist debate is so important as to be mentioned multiple times on this page (and on other pages), it deserves it's own page, and such material should be moved from this page to that one. Such an action would be more in keeping with Wikipedia guidelines. Several edits have been made to this page without any edit summaries, outside Wikipedia guidelines. Reverting these edits would be an appropriate action.Hamlet 2010a 19:46, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

It is not a "separate subject". Its the very same subject. If the God helmet "works", find a reliable source (that isn't Persinger's own work), confirming his findings in a reliable manner. And stop wiki-lawyering about the absence of edit summaries. Reverting sensible edits on such flimsy foundations is just rude. Famousdog (talk) 21:39, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Your point about about whether the debate is a separate subject is not unreasonable, though I myself do not agree. The opinions of other editors would be helpful. A single failed replication study does not prove that replication is impossible. Granqvist has not replied to Persinger's re-analysis of his data (published five years ago) [1], so that the debate appears not to have come to any decisive conclution. References to Persinger's work remain valid. As for the phrase 'wiki-lawyering', it seems to imply that there is something amiss with alluding to the guidelines. I don't agree. The opinions of other editors may be helpful on this point as well. I have not reverted any edits because of the lack of an edit summary. Hamlet 2010a 09:56, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
what's rude is not putting in edit summaries. complaining about the lack of edit summaraies is only "rude" to the offending person(s). at some point naysayers are going to have to deal with the fact that this helmet, as well as persinger's work, exists. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:47, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

Successful Replication[edit]

A Swiss group has reported (online) robust effects working with the commercially-available version of Persinger's circumcerebral apparatus, involving 500 procedures with 100 subjects. The report requires translation and editing. Hamlet 2010a 19:46, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

When that Swiss study is reviewed and published in a reputable journal, then cite it. until then, its hearsay. Famousdog (talk) 21:41, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia requires content be verifiable, not that it be published in any specific kind of journal. "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is Verifiability not truth; that is, whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true." Note "... readers can check...". That the Swiss group claims robust effects is a a factual statement, which readers could check. Deciding what is permissible (besides verifiability) is setting editorial policy. Responding to claims with skeptical commentary is one thing. Removing them is another. Hamlet 2010a 09:58, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
But by the sound of it, the Swiss group's study is currently a self-published source which WP policy states "are largely not acceptable as sources" and which contravenes the rule of verifiability that you yourself quote as requiring sources to have "already been published by a reliable source" (my emphasis). Until such point as the study has been published by a third party (and ideally, although not necessarily, passed peer-review) it is not reliable. Otherwise anybody could make up an experiment, fabricate the results, post it on their personal website and use it on WP. You're right that self-published sources may be used as sources of information about themselves, but only if the material "does not involve claims about third parties" and that "there is no reasonable doubt as to its authenticity" and "the article is not based primarily on such sources." Until we see the source we can't answer those three issues. Can you post a link to it here so I can look at it? What language is it in? Famousdog (talk) 13:54, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
I prefer to post the material (currently in German) when it's been translated and edited. It addresses the author's own experiences working with the circumcerebral system. The page mentioned the Granqvist failure to replicate in three sections. There is a large section of the page specifically addressing the issue. Your mention of it (which has also been interpreted as a failure in setting up the replication experiment) in the introductory paragraph may be an undue emphasis, given the large section of the page devoted to it that follows. Hamlet 2010a 18:47, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
When is it likely to be translated and edited? In a month? Ten years? It actually doesn't need to be in English to act as a verifiable source (and perhaps readers can run it through Google translate). I think you should add it to the article as an example of a successful replication of Persinger's results and allow other editors to decide whether it should be given credence or not. If you aren't willing to do this then as far as this article is concerned, the study was never done. On the issue of undue weight: Granqvist is a reliable source in a reliable peer-reviewed journal. The fact that Persinger has published 10, 20 or 100 papers saying they are wrong is both predictable and irrelevant. Independent replication of results is one of the pillars of the scientific method. We only have one example of this (so far) and the replication failed. That is very important information and in this article it is given corresponding weight. PS - Can you sign your comments with four tildes like this, please: ~~~~ Famousdog (talk) 13:35, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
This is the report . However, it looks as much like a testimonial as it does a preliminary report. That doesn't mean it's assertions are wrong, but any reference to it will undoubtedly be seen as falling well short of the standards some editors are applying to this page. It will be deleted. I doubt there is any fakery involved in the PDF mentioned above, but it's author appears to have more interest in spiritual development than scientific method. The page refers to "enlightenment", which may well exist, but is not yet defined within the scientific community. The PDF referred to EEG measurements, so perhaps a final report from the same group might be more worthwhile. The PDF refers to enhancements in psychic perception, a result found in Persinger's reports regarding circumcerebral stimulation [2], but with few details. It cannot be said that no one has reproduced any Persinger's results. The one attempt you mentioned can be considered suspect in the light of Persinger's criticisms.
Granqvist has the option to repeat his trial, with adjusted setup procedures. The reliable peer-reviewed journal Granqvist where published his results (Neuroscience Letters) also published one of Persinger's responses, so both enjoy the credibility that such publication confers on it's authors. Granqvist's failure to replicate Persinger's procedures and results is part of a scientific debate, and not only a lab result. No matter what it's importance, there is a large section in the page dedicated to that theme, and putting it in the introductory paragraph leads the reader to a conclusion before they have read both sides of the story. It doesn't really seem unbiased. Hamlet 2010a 03:02, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, I think we can put that to bed. The authors of the report, Deep Focus, are a company selling "brain stimulation" devices of dubious effectiveness and design and the fact that they might produce scientific-looking reports to back up their claims is unsurprising. The fact that the company also hosts a video of the The Spinning Dancer on their website claiming it is a test of left-right brainedness (which is patently wrong adds to my suspicions regarding the scientific value of their output. To use this as a source would surely violate WP:RS, WP:SPS and possibly WP:PROMOTION. Famousdog (talk) 10:07, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
We are in agreement that the above-mentioned PDF is not appropriate for WP, save perhaps as a correctly-identified anecdotal link in the external links section. The reason I see is in the PDF itself, rather than the rest of their website. Hamlet 2010a 11:13, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
Regarding the issue of (un)due weight. I stick to my earlier assertation that there are effectively two sides to this story: Persinger's and Granqvist's. As such, the two sides are accorded roughly equal column inches in the current article. The number of papers that Persinger has published defending his honour is irrelevant and the fact that independent replications have not been published is very important and belongs in the lead. Look at it this way: Perhaps lots of labs have tried to replicate Persinger's findings and failed - they may have abandoned the project, decided not to publish or been unable to publish because negative results are "boring". Just a theory. Famousdog (talk) 10:07, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
Your theory seems a bit speculative, but it is on the discussion page, and not the article itself, after all. The number of papers Persinger defending his research is not as important as what they say. The first discusses the Swedish group's methods. The second is a rebuttal to their conclutions. I believe these become relevant when Granqvist's paper is used as a reference. Hamlet 2010a 11:13, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, and the article as it currently stands makes it quite clear that Persinger disagrees with certain aspects of Granqvist and colleagues' "replication" and has published subsequent work that argues against it. Links are provided to the commentaries and subsequent papers defending his / criticising Granqvist's work. If anybody wants to know more, they can follow the links and read those papers. But a point-by-point rebuttal is not really what Wikipedia is for. Famousdog (talk) 10:47, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Point-by-point criticisms invite point-by-point rebuttals. General criticisms invite general rebuttals. In a section devoted to a controversy, the points of controversy are meaningful. I agree that Wikipedia is not for debate, but when a criticism is noteworthy, leaving out it's responses ushers a page (or section) away from being unbiased. Both sides have published their positions in peer-reviewed journals, making both side's views equally worthy of inclusion. There is more to the debate than has been covered on this page, but I see no reason to add to it unless new points of controversy are introduced. I believe the God Helmet has "meaningful effects", having seen it in use. You, stating your opinion (above), think the opposite. As one would expect, both of our edits are consistant with our opinions. Two people, in opposite 'camps' with respect to a debate, can edit a page into an unbiased position if they are wise enough to show some respect for positions with which they may disagree. Perhaps we have done this. I don't think the WP:NOT guidelines are intended to proscribe this process. My only regret about the Persinger/Granqvist section *at this moment* is that it's header does not identify it as a controversy.
BTW, in response to your edit summary comment about double spaces after periods, I will say that I have a lifelong habit of putting two spaces after sentences, as is still a widespread habit in the USA. I would rather see you call my language "American-ese" instead of English than have to re-train my fingers. I remember my English composition teacher being quite emphatic that one space is not enough to denote a sentence. She circled places where the British form was observed on assignments with frowning glyphs, roughly drawn, to show how many points the unfortuante "wannabe Brit" was losing by not following the "elegant" convention of putting two spaces after a period. Such habits fade slowly. Hamlet 2010a 13:04, 28 January 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hamlet 2010a (talkcontribs)
I think we need a third editor to step in. I for one am happy with the article as it currently stands. It gives a flavour of the debate that is currently raging and citations so that readers can follow the debate in more detail if they wish, but Wikipedia is not a soapbox. With regards the double-space after a full stop, this is not a British vs. American thing. I was taught the same double-spacing at college (in the UK), but its a hangover from the days of typewriters and no longer necessary. The article had a lot of white space in it - multiple carriage returns after paragraphs as well - so I thought I'd better raise the issue. Famousdog (talk) 15:31, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
I am not unhappy with the section in question as it is. A third editor, whoever they are, may or may not be biased, so we shall see. Let's let some time pass. Adherence to providing citations for edits will go far in keeping the page accurate and unbiased. I have been considering one or two (minor) changes to the section, but I will refrain from making them for the present, if the section stands. My hope is that we have reached a détente with regard to the Persinger /Granqvist debate for the present. I would like your opinion about changing the name of the header for that section so that it uses the word 'controversy' or 'debate'. I think such wording would more accurately reflect it's contents. Hamlet 2010a 05:30, 29 January 2011 (UTC)


  1. ^ St-Pierre, L S; Persinger, M A (2006). "Experimental facilitation of the sensed presence is predicted by the specific patterns of the applied magnetic fields, not by suggestibility: re-analyses of 19 experiments.". The International journal of neuroscience. 116 (9): 1079–96. PMID 16861170. 
  2. ^ Persinger, M A; Koren, S A; Tsang, E W (2003). "Enhanced power within a specific band of theta activity in one person while another receives circumcerebral pulsed magnetic fields: a mechanism for cognitive influence at a distance?". Perceptual and motor skills. 97 (3 Pt 1): 877–94. PMID 14738355. 

Renaming section[edit]

Hamlet2010, you suggest (above) changing the name of the 'Replication studies' section to something like 'controversy' or 'debate'. Although I am not against changing the name of this section per se, I would oppose using either of the terms you suggest for the following reasons. 1) They are not informative about the section of the article that they head. The section discusses studies that have replicated Persinger's work. I don't see the problem. As more studies are done, they can be added. 2) Using terms like 'controversy' is a good way of raising a reader's eyebrows before they've even read the contents of the section. In other words they act as a red flag (WARNING: the contents of this section are unreliable!). If you can find a reliable third-party source that refers to the Persinger/Granqvist debate as "controversial" then I may reconsider. 3) There is already a section called 'debate' (again, uninformatively). What are we going to call that? Famousdog (talk) 11:55, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

The actual content of the section concerns a debate between two scientists regarding a replication study. The "debate" section's subject is a difference of opinion about the temporal lobe basis of religious experience in general, and does not mention the God helmet. Making a connection between them would constitute original research, unless a reliable source can be found linking the two. In my opinion, it more properly belongs on the neurotheology page. Calling something controversial may raise eyebrows, but given that the section is extensively referenced, it's a reliable (though perhaps not complete) synopsis of the Persinger / Granqvist debate. The phrase "Debate concerning a replication study" accurately denotes the material there. Both you and I refer to it here as a "debate", defining it as a controversy. Debates are controversies. I think you prefer to see the contents of a section follow the header. I think it's more reasonable for the header to change as the contents of a section change. You say the section discusses replication studies as though its required to do that, and cannot be changed. I'll look into the WP policies (about whether headings should reflect content or vice-versa) before taking any action, but not without considering Ignoring them. Hamlet 2010a 21:20, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
I think you also need to consider the implications of the word "controversy". So far this is basically Granqvist vs. Persinger (and on this article its Hamlet2010a vs. Famousdog). In other words, not many people are actually interested in this "debate". That suggests to me that it is not "controversial".
With regards the 'debate' section. That seems to contain several potentially important points about the theoretical basis for believing that the temporal lobes have anything to do with religious experience and the functional effects (if any) of the God helmet. So they are potentially relevant to this article and possibly relevant to the neurotheology article too. I tagged those points as unsourced a while back hoping that whoever originally put them there might back them up. They haven't. I might have a look for a source for them when I get time. Famousdog (talk) 11:48, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
"...not many people are actually interested in this "debate" ..." [citation needed] Hamlet 2010a 20:09, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
Hamlet, where exactly will I get citations to show disinterest? Its up to you to show that this "debate" is "controversial" and being "debated." Famousdog (talk) 12:12, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
The page was viewed 7900 times in January of this year. It has 42 watchers. Such statistics don't support the contention that no one is interested. Of course, it's not possible to know how many of the page's visitors actually read it, and some people probably visited more than once. Moreover, the number of Google hits in response to the (last) names of the principles, when entered together as a search string, is over 1,500 (as of 02/02/2011). The statement that "not many people are actually interested" appears to lack veracity. The controversy in the section is noteworthy whether it's actively being debated or is a matter of recent history, and warrants a title more consistent with it's contents. The issue may seem trivial, but attention to detail improves Wikipedia. Hamlet 2010a 04:06, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
A significant minority of those 7900 visits were probably you and me, and people wanting to know what the hell a "God helmet" is does not mean that they care a jot about the validity (or not) of Granqvist's replication (BTW, "Umbrella" has 54 watchers and "Cheese" has 580. Not much controversy there.). "Interest" is not "debate" or "controversy", but enough of this. Google hits and page visits are one type of data, but you seem to want to state explicitly in the article that the veracity of Granqvist's replication is "controversial" and under active "debate". Okay. Show me the debate. Show me the controversy. Show me the op-ed pieces and blogs expressing outrage. Show me the letters to the editor. It seems to me that the only person debating Granqvist's results is Persinger and perhaps his colleagues (and their displeasure with Granqvist's study is aleady mentioned in the article and the relevant publications/emails cited). As I said above, that's a predictable response from the researcher being criticised, but it still means that this is a case of the Swedes vs. Persinger. 50/50. Just like the balance of the article. Famousdog (talk) 10:32, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
I suggested changing the header to 'controversy' or 'debate'. Your ideas about what constitutes a controversy are different from mine. I offered those numbers to show that show that more than a few people are interested, as challenged, not that it's controversial ("...not many people are actually interested in this "debate" ..."). Whether or not there is a controversy depends on your definition for the term. A thing can be controversial without being in op-ed pieces or inciting outrage, again, depending on the definition for the word. It is (or was) a debate between, as you say, the Swedes and Persinger. As such, the section covering it could be more accurately titled using the word 'debate' (whether existing in the past or in the present). The fact that rebuttals can be predicted when criticisms are published does not vitiate the points made in rebuttal. If one follows the old advice to "debate the issue, not the person", then the motivation for a person to reply to critics is irrelevant, no matter how predictable it might be. The substance of their replies outweighs their reasons for making one, no matter who they are. I can see that you will revert any change to the title for the section along those lines, and having seen that, this dialog loses it's purpose - to come to agreement through discussion. Hamlet 2010a 12:00, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
You misrepresent me. I suggested that "not many people are actually interested in this "debate"" and asked you to prove me wrong. Your response, showing the level of interest in the God helmet article, does not necesserally reflect interest in the Granqvist replication debate/controversy. However, you obviously feel very strongly about this so how about we rename the section: Failed replication and subsequent debate? I maintain that the word "controversy" is far too strong for this rather academic discussion, but Persinger does clearly "debate" Granqvist's conclusions. Just calling the section "Debate" is uninformative and red-flaggy. Famousdog (talk) 12:32, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
Failed replication and subsequent debate is fine with me. I will make the change after waiting a day or so. Hamlet 2010a (talk) Hamlet 2010a 19:59, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

New Sections[edit]

I have just added some new sections discussing the theories that stand behind the God Helmet, as well as a brief discussion of the God Helmet's use in experiments on depression in people who have sustained closed-head injuries.

Please do not revert these changes. I will try to respond to requests for citations and / or changes in the wording. Please also feel free to ask any questions.--Hamlet 2010a 04:58, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

I've tagged a lot of this. All the citations come from Persinger, so it makes for a very unbalanced article. There is too much jargon and the reporting of methods is very selective (no mention of the - very weak - field strength, for example). If sources cannot be provided from other researchers in the area, or from reliable third parties, to confirm the majority of this theoretical and procedural detail, then I question the notability of this subject in the first place. The single most notable piece of information on this page is that Persinger's "effects" have not been independently replicated (which is information that needs to be right up there in the lead). This page is simply turning into a long explanation of Persinger's theories without recourse to any other neuroscientific evidence or context. Famousdog (talk) 10:37, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
The theory supporting the God Helmet was developed and published by Persinger and his colleagues, so that's where the references lead. The absence of other sources in the article reflects the lack of theoretical contributions by other researchers. If you know of any published criticisms of Persinger's theories, cite them. There is a lengthy section discussing the failed replication and subsequent debate, and it makes it clear that the attempt at replication has been criticised as being so heavily flawed as to be meaningless. The notability of the theory supporting the God Helmet derives from the notability of the apparatus itself. I will edit to clarify the points you have so tagged in the near future. It would help if you could specify what you consider jargon and specifically what appears too technical. --Hamlet 2010a 16:35, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
The theory developed by Persinger to explain his findings is irrelevant if those findings are not replicable. Until such time, adding more and more citations of Persinger's work counts as undue weight. I have now found one more independent study based on Persinger's work that reports a negative result (French et al. 2009). I make that 2 Labs : 1 against Persinger. Please cut down or summarise the overly-long explanation of the theory behind an effect that hasn't been replicated. Famousdog (talk) 09:43, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
The study you mention by French, et al. is not an attempt at replication of any of Persinger's experiments. Persinger's work could have been replicated, if his procedures were followed, which the Swedish group did not do. In the opening section, you insist on mentioning the Swedish group's negative results, but you remove any mention of the fact that Persinger has criticised their experiment. This is not quite unbiased. If one belongs in the lead, then so does the other. I have left the quote from Granqvist regarding current induction in place, and added a brief quote from Persinger's review paper indicating that he does not maintain that his effects are due to current induction, but are explained in terms of field-to-field interactions. I will work on cutting the length of the explanation of the theories, but I think perhaps it's time to call for arbitration. Your comments seem to imply that the Swedish team's results are decisive, even though there is much room for disagreement. The page is becoming a debate, and arbitration may be the only way to prevent it. --Hamlet 2010a 11:32, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
Just realised that I hadn't responded to this. Sorry for messing up the chronology of these comments. You are right, the French article is not a staright replication, but it is an attempt to test some of Persinger's ideas and is in a reliable, peer-reviewed source. You (and Persinger) say that the Swedish group didn't follow his procedures. They say (in the Larsson paper) that they did. If you cite Persinger's objection to their study in the lead, you will have to cite their response to his objection. I will do so now. Famousdog (talk) 14:36, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
Your comment: "The single most notable piece of information on this page is that Persinger's "effects" have not been independently replicated (which is information that needs to be right up there in the lead). " is an opinion, not a fact. The lack of independent published replication has already been mentioned in the lead. Your addition is redundant, and makes the lead biased. "Giving due weight and avoiding giving undue weight means that articles should not give minority views as much of or as detailed a description as more widely held views." I have refrained from editing on the assumption that either of our views are those of the majority, and I hope you will consider doing the same.
You commented that the theory is irrelevant if the results are not replicable. If you know of any wiki guideline that supports this, please cite it. There is disagreement as to whether or not the results are replicable. Knowing this, I will continue to work (gradually) on the theory section to make it shorter, as you have tagged. --Hamlet 2010a 18:01, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
No and no. Those are indeed my opinions, but I think you'll find them backed up by WP:FRINGE (especially the sections on independent sources and parity of sources) and WP:NPOV (especially WP:UNDUE). Although not a policy, a good guide to the issues is WP:SCICON. Regarding what is notable about Persinger's work: "the best sources to use when describing fringe theories, and in determining their notability and prominence, are independent reliable sources". The God helmet research is notable because of all the media attention, but his theories - expounded in his own papers - are not. Regarding parity of sources, there are three viewpoints in this article: Persinger et al., Granqvist et al., and now French et al. Those three independent views should be given similar weight in the article. Currently it is dominated by Persinger's theories. WP:UNDUE says: "Neutrality requires that each article ... fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint." We have three independent labs, publishing in independent, peer-reviewed, reliable sources. Therefore the article should represent their viewpoints in equal proportion. Regarding the irrelevance of theory in the face of a lack of replication, Independent sources also says: "Points that are not discussed in independent sources should not be given any space in articles." Persinger's theories are only expounded in detail in his own publications. Find some independent and reliable sources that give any credence to these ideas and they can stay in the article. Famousdog (talk) 13:53, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
The French et al. study put subjects in a room. This exposes the subject's whole brain (and body) to stimuli. The God Helmet focuses it on the brain, allowing stimulation of either or both sides, and to be confined to specific cortical regions. Quite different. His papers don't include any mention of whole-room stimulation. The French et al. study doesn't test or apply Persinger's ideas or methods. The study is not about a God Helmet, and thus off-topic for the page. A haunted room is not the same. I will add some material from others regarding theory in the near future, but for now, I will mention that Persinger's theories are published in reliable peer-reviewed journals, and so cannot be considered as "self published".
I noticed that the reference for Persinger's statement that only one percent of his subjects saw God in the lab has been tagged as a 'self-published' source. That reference was published on a website, quoting an email from Persinger. I put that reference there because it helps prevent the misperception (because of the extensive media attention, as well as the name of the article) that larger numbers saw God. Leaving it in place offers a much-needed bit of "rumor control". I thank you for pointing it out, allowing me to clarify the need for it.--Hamlet 2010a 16:10, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
The only sources that I tagged as being self-published were the one obvious self-published source. I'm afraid that has no validity as a source and needs to be removed. I also think that email exchanges between Persinger and Granqvist are not only private correspondence, but they have been made available on the internet by one of the researchers involved in the debate and therefore present a distinct POV. If the material contained in these emails cannot be verified in a reliable source it must go. We have to go with material from reliable sources. Regarding the French et al. study, I'm starting a new thread, below. Famousdog (talk) 11:27, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

French et al. "haunted room" study[edit]

The experiments were quite different, but in the absence of any other studies in reliable journals, this is one of the best attempts to test the (general) hypothesis that complex magnetic fields cause the experience of a sensed presence. It is not a strict replication and doesn't involve a helmet apparatus, but it is relevant. This article is about the God helmet, but that was designed to test the more general theory that EMF causes weirdness and Persinger has made claims about situations that also don't involve people wearing helmets and sitting in the dark. However, if you think it is off-topic then a short mention in the 'other criticisms' section is fine with me, but we still have to edit down the article to give equal weight to Persinger and Granqvist. Famousdog (talk) 11:27, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

I believe that there are notable aspects of the God Helmet experiments that do not relate to Granqvist's single experiment. The theory is notable firstly because it's the theoretical basis for the apparatus, and also because it constitutes a discussion from science to religion on the subject of the objective existence of God - one that addresses why people are capable of having visions of God without recourse to unfalsifiable hypotheses regarding "God's will". This, in my view, is an advance in positivism, which also enhances the theory's notability. The space devoted to the theory cannot represent Granqvist's views about it, because he has published none. To look for the whole page give equal weight to Granqvist and Persinger implies that no aspect of the apparatus should be discussed unless Granqvist has published on the subject. That, I think, is not the intention of the NPOV guidelines. The sections on theory should stay in place, subject to further editing and clarification, in response to your tags.
As for the French et al. study, I will leave it in place, adding a clarifying remark - "... using an EM and ultrasound based "haunted room" instead of a God Helmet".
I don't agree that the email correspondence should be removed as emails from both parties to the debate are found through those links, and this may necessitate another round of editing by both you and I, but there are quotations from more recent papers I can use. Perhaps these might be left alone for a time. Other editors can weigh in.
I hope we can agree that the page is in an acceptable state as of the present, and thank one another for our respective contributions, even though it does not stand as either of us would like it. Towards this end, I have made only one change to the page today, as above. Many thanks. --Hamlet 2010a 01:39, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, Hamlet, considering your previous disregard for "opinion", your above post seems rather full of it. If you can find a notable Bishop or Imam, or commentator on religious issues, who has posted something to the effect that Persinger's research "constitutes a discussion from science to religion" or that this research is "an advance in positivism" then please cite it. But it seems to me that this is not particularly notable (or high-quality) research and therefore does not warrent the lengthy discussion it is given on this page. You say that "to look for the whole page give equal weight to Granqvist and Persinger implies that no aspect of the apparatus should be discussed unless Granqvist has published on the subject" but that is not what is being said (by me or anybody else) at all. Persingers' theories can be summarised fairly easily in a short paragraph and citations to his work given which interested parties can then follow. These theories do not deserve the three or four sections of an encyclopaedia article they are currently afforded. By all means present Persinger's view, but it has to be moderated by the fact that this is not particularly notable or high-quality fringe science that has been virtually ignored by the rest of the scientific community - except in two cases where it has been criticised or produced null results. Special pleading on your behalf is not a good enough reason to keep this article the way it currently is. Too long and unbalanced. Famousdog (talk) 10:05, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

I'm away for ten days or two weeks (approx.). I will make changes then.--Hamlet 2010a 07:00, 20 April 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hamlet 2010a (talkcontribs)

Edits by LizardKitty[edit]

Hi, I reverted several edits by LizardKitty and before we get into an edit war, would like to justify them here. The term "God helmet", whether you (or anybody else) like it or not, is the popular term for this apparatus. The fact that it was originally called the "Koren helmet" is mentioned, prominently, in the article. Secondly, this article is for a general audience. Talking about how the solenoids were controlled by DACs, the voltages of which were supplied by a vector of numbers, in addition to being fairly standard procedure, is a level of detail far removed from that appropriate for an encycopedia article. WP is first-and-foremost an encyclopedia. Please bear that in mind and write for the reader. Finally, the Manual of Style does not ban the use of "claim" or remove it from usage on WP. It simply says that it should be used carefully - and since his work has not been independently replicated in reliable sources, the wording "Persinger claims X" is entirely justified. Famousdog (talk) 09:17, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Comment on the previous discussions[edit]

As you requested an additional opinion above, I will try to offer one after coming to that page by chance.

I agree with Famousdogs assessment that the failure to replicate the experiment is one of the most important bits of information on this page, if not the singly most important one. In this view, the sentence "The Swedish group disagrees.[10]" (ref 10==doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2005.03.059) for their rebuttal on the criticism of their work seems a little bit on the short side and the whole section on their attempt to replicate the experiment seems much too short in comparison to the other sections in the article.

Furthermore I was extremely astonished that someone who claimed to be member of a scientific group would try to define "interest" in the work of this scientific group via page-hits on a Wikipedia article or the number of people who watch it. Scientific interest is measured by citations in peer-reviewed scientific literature. Picking the first cited paper of the article from 1990 (20 years time to cite this paper), this would be roughly this list (minus the non-journal/non-peer-review sources Google scholar includes). This indeed shows about 10 citations, 9 of which are papers, which Persinger is a co-author of. The remaining citation is a review (doi:10.1002/bem.107) which lists, but does not comment on his work. (But could be potentially useful as other experiments listed along with it might help set it in perspective). Looking at other papers also reveals self-citations. I would hence deduce that interest is low (from the papers whose citations I checked, which were by far not all).

As for a mini-review: I do not consider the section "Anecdotal reports" an improvement for the article. In absence of reproducable scientific evidence, any anecdotal reports are of no consequence. There could instead be a section "reception" (or whatever the appropriate name), though, as this section seems to suggests that there was reception in main-stream media... and possibly .. esoteric circles?

Similar is true for the section "treatment of depression" — as long there is doubt if an effect exists, publications of the same group on the usefulness of the effect in treatment are of very little interest.

Another point to ponder (in July 2011) is maybe a curious editing-pattern of some people: [4].

Apart from the problem of bias that I see in the room that different topics received I think you managed to have an article that is interesting to read.

Hope the outside-view helps

Cheers Iridos (talk) 22:59, 24 July 2011 (UTC)

Thanks. I think this article very much needed looked at by a disinterested third party. I feel emboldened to continue editing. Famousdog (talk) 10:18, 25 July 2011 (UTC)
Just to clarify, my mentioning the number of watchers and page-hits was to refer to interest in the page by the readers, not by the scientific community. The anecdotal reports are both verifiable and referenced. The same goes for the section on depression. Hamlet 2010a 14:30, 25 July 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hamlet 2010a (talkcontribs)

connection to Julian Jaynes work?[edit]

Has anyone established a linkage between this work and that of Jaynes? Reference: The Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bpetrarca (talkcontribs) 03:16, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

I happened to read Jaynes' book not long ago, and the central themes seem very similar to me. I'm adding a mention in the article. Even if there is no direct link (perhaps the idea was passed on second- or third-hand), I think it's a good idea to mention the precedent. Esn (talk) 03:09, 22 November 2016 (UTC)

Recent changes[edit]

I have made some significant changes to the article, hoping to reduce it's length, remove jargon, remove speculative statements and enforce Wikipedia policy with regards medical claims. I have also tagged statements that need clarified or whose relevance is unclear. I would appreciate other editors' thoughts on these changes. Famousdog (talk) 14:54, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Conflict of interest[edit]

Please clarify how the "Journal of Consciousness Exploration and Research" source is a conflict of interest. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ksirok (talkcontribs) 22:17, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Because it is a brand new, non-indexed, purely web-based "journal" published by a company that sells "therapeutic, communicational or recreational" devices based on "quantum entanglement" and for whom a certain Michael Persinger has acted as a contributing editor? Famousdog (c)

Removal of relevant data[edit]

Please clarify why relevant, sourced data such as "experiences of angels" was removed from the "Experiences" sub-heading. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ksirok (talkcontribs) 19:28, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Temporal lobe epilepsy[edit]

Persinger does not correlate spirituality with temporal lobe epilepsy. He has suggested evidence that temporal lobe lability exists along a continuum within the general population. This suggestion has both psychometric and electroencephalographic evidence. He has also suggested that mystical experiences may occur in individuals with these propensities; however has he has never drawn a direct correlation between mystical experiences and temporal lobe epilepsy. Unless there are references to the contrary, this shall be removed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ksirok (talkcontribs) 01:28, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

Most of his theories are based on the literature on temporal lobe epilepsy and hyper-religiosity. Several prominent academics have thrown cold water on this idea. If you can back up your claims (above) please provide RSs to the relevant sections of Persingers work. Famousdog (c) 19:07, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Changes by Ksirok[edit]

The "octopus" is clearly a very similar device originated by Persinger and colleagues and many of the claims made for it are the same. Discussion of it clearly belongs here as it is far less notable than the god helmet and doesn't deserve its own article. Famousdog (c) 19:07, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

Although both devices produce and deliver low-intensity complex magnetic fields, the octopus is a different device that more relevant to discuss in the Michael Persinger page. The God helmet was designed to apply different stimulation to each hemisphere of temporal and parietal areas whereas the octopus was designed for circumcerebral (around the whole brain) stimulation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ksirok (talkcontribs) 21:00, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

The misquote of the Gendle study could be seen by a quick comparison of the actual quote and the Wiki quote:

Actual quote:

"Although the device's "amygdala signal" had no effect on the emotive response to images in this study, additional investigations examining the effects of weak and complex magnetic fields on various aspects of perception and cognition are warranted."

Wiki quote:

"Experimental attempts to produce these effects have found no difference in emotional state whether the device was on or off."

The Gendle study only examined the effects of emotional responses to picture images and did not examine enhancing meditation, modulating emotional states or generating altered states; these phenomena were not tested in the study. The God helmet has never claimed to change emotional responses to pictures, hence it is not relevant. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ksirok (talkcontribs) 21:24, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

That is a quote from the review by Aaen-Stockdale, not a quote from the Gendle study. Do check your facts. Famousdog (c) 09:02, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

Previous Conflict of Interest Apology[edit]

Previously I created a section which discussed a Conflict of Interest directed towards Famousdog and their comments on the God helmet. As per the protocol suggested by Wikipedia, which says to try and resolve the COI dispute on the relevant Talk Page, I posted the comments on this Talk Page. Another Wikipedia rule is to demonstrate that the person in question has a conflict of interest. Unfortunately, in trying to demonstrate the case for a COI, I may or may not have inadvertently revealed information that could have violated Famousdog's privacy. I very sincerely apologize and have absolutely no objection to the removal of that information. I assure that this action was not malicious, nor did I ever intend to 'out' the personal identity of this Wiki user.Ksirok (talk) 04:09, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

God helmet changes[edit]

This is copied from comments by Famousdog on my User Page]

"I have simply added other material (Granqvist et al, French et al, Gendle & McGrath and my own article) to "correct" what I have seen in the past as an unsceptical bias."

I have examined Famousdog's references with care, and I have found that there are issues that call for further editing. I will be heeding the advice of Administrator Uzma Gamal and will be checking the God helmet page for the sources for negative information. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ksirok (talkcontribs) 20:59, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

Effectiveness of weak-intensity magnetic fields[edit]

The Aaen-Stockdale article: "Neuroscience for the soul" [5] asserts that "the magnetic fields generated by the God helmet are far too weak to penetrate the cranium and influence neurons within..." and "[TMS] uses field strengths of around 1.5 Tesla in order to induce currents strong enough to depolarise neurons..." and "Magnetic fields must be strong enough to depolarise neurons, otherwise they cannot influence brain function..."

The idea that magnetic fields within microTesla range may not be compatible with influencing brain function may have its origins in the paper by Granqvist (et al.) on the God Helmet, which says: "Such weak fields are considered unable to induce currents strong enough to depolarize neurons. Thus, the mechanism through which weak complex field TMS may work remains obscure, but the waveformof the field has been suggested to be crucial". Granqvist does not imply that the only way that magnetic fields can influence brain activity is by depolarizing neurons. As we will see, the mechanism is not so obscure after all.

Magnetic fields far weaker than TMS have been used to influence brain function, in some cases, with exceedingly small percentages of the field strength used in TMS. Below are a few references for magnetic stimulation studies by other researchers beside Persinger. No research group is included more than once, making eleven discrete corroborations that weak magnetic fields can and do influence brain function. A brief summary of each appears, along with the principle author's name, the year of publication, and a link to the study. These are not offered to explain how the God Helmet influences brain activity (which is a separate question), but rather to demonstrate that depolarization of neurons (which requires high field strengths) is not the only way that magnetic fields can influence the brain. The studies below are arranged in order of field strengths, with all units converted to milligauss for convenience and all of them compared to TMS. The mimimum field strength for neuron depolarization is actually one Tesla, two-thirds of the strength commonly used in TMS.

0) (for comparison) Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation 1 Tesla [T] = 10,000,000 Milligauss OR 100% of TMS.

1) Wieraszko A., 2000 2.5 millitesla = 25,000 mG OR 0.25% of TMS Magnetic fields exerted effects on spikes from hippocampal slices in vitro.

2)Dobson, (et al.) 2000 1.8 millitesla = 18,000 mG OR 0.18% of TMS Interictal epileptiform activity enhanced and supressed in temporal lobe epileptics.

3)Thomas (et al.), 2007 400 microtesla = 4000 milligauss OR 0.04% of TMS Pain reduction in patients with fibromyalgia.

4)Huesser, K. (et al.) .1 millitesla = 1000 mG OR 0.01% of TMS Caused changes in EEG parameters.

5)Marino (et al.), 2004 1 Gauss = 1000 mG OR 0.01% of TMS Changes in EEG during presentation of Magnetic fields.

6)Carrubba (et al.), 2008 1 Gauss = 1000 mG OR 0.01% of TMS Evoked potentials detected.

The same researcher has also found similar effects at two gauss or 0.02% of TMS.

7)Brendel, H. (et al.), 2000 86 microtesla = 860 mG OR 0.0086% of TMS Melatonin supression following in vitro pineal gland exposure to magnetic fields.

8)Bell (et al.) 2007 .78 Gauss = 780 mG OR 0.0078% of TMS Field_induced alterations in EEG

9)Vorobyov, (et al.), 1998 20.9 microtesla = 209 mG OR 0.0029% of TMS EEG differences in rats.

The same researcher has also found similar effects more recently.

10)Jacobson, 1994 5 picotesla = 0.00005 mG OR 0.0000000000005% of TMS Direct correlation of melatonin production with magnetic field stimulation.

11)Sandyk, R, 1999 "Picotesla range" (example:) 500 picotesla = 0.005 milligauss OR 0.00000000005% of TMS Magnetic fields improve olfactory function in Parkinson's disease.

Note: Sandyk has publised 23 case histories documenting the effects of picotesla range magnetic fields on humans, including MS and Parkinson's.

The very different field strengths used in the studies above suggest that there are several mechanisms by which weak magnetic fields can influence the brain. Next, we are only concerned with how Persinger explains the effects he reports from his laboratory.


The model we use "is that the interaction between these weak magnetic fields and the electromagnetic substrates that mediate consciousness and mystical states, particularly the sensed presence and the out-of-body-experiences, are less related to direct current induction and more related to field-to-field interactions."

The process is similar to the interaction between the magnetic field of the solar wind and the earth's magnetic field. The typical field strength of the solar wind is about 10,000 times stronger than the geomagnetic field. Yet the region where the two fields meet mediates powerful effects throughout the geomagnetic field and are reflected by powerful changes deep within the earth's surface, cluminating, in some cases, in geomagnetic storms.

The convergence between the field strengths of God Helmet and those generated by the magnetic component of neuronal activity allow direct interaction between them in a manner similar to the interaction between the solar wind and the outer components of the magnetosphere of the earth.

In simpler terms, the God Helmet's magnetic fields affect the brain in much the same way that the sun's magnetic fields affects the earth's magnetic field. When a magnetic field bearing information derived from the brain (through EEG) is applied to the brain, it increases the probability that the brain will begin producing the same signal on it's own through sympathetic resonance. Because the God Helmet uses signals derived from the limbic system, its most labile area overall, applied above the temporal lobes, limbic responses appear naturally - if the experimental conditions are right. Ksirok (talk) 00:16, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

In case you haven't noticed, the brain is not a nuclear-powered ball of interstellar gas. Your analogy is therefore meaningless. The sources that you quote above, although interesting, do not directly support Persinger's theories. In the context of Wikipedia, they are also primary sources and using them to support Persinger's theories would constitute original research on your part and also inappropriate synthesis of published material. You have obviously done your research, but I suggest you write up that research (making a clearer argument for how it relates to Persinger's research), submit it to an academic journal with peer-review and get it published. Then, and only then, can it be added to this article. Famousdog (c) 09:15, 15 August 2012 (UTC)