ParaMOOC2023 March 3rd Gerhard Mayer Reflections on Single Case Study Investigation

Biography: Gerhard Mayer studied psychology, sociology, and philosophy. Since 1996, he has worked as a researcher at the IGPP in Freiburg. His research interests concern questions of cultural studies relating to the frontier areas of psychology, particularly sleep paralysis, shamanism, magical practices & beliefs, the biographical integration of extraordinary experiences, and scientific approaches to astrology. He authored and edited several books on topics in the field of anomalistics and parapsychology. He is the director of the Gesellschaft für Anomalistik (Society for Anomalistics) and chief editor of the bilingual Journal of Anomalistics (Zeitschrift für Anomalistik). Since 2022, he has been Vice President of the Parapsychological Association.

Abstract: With this talk, I would like to provide some reflections on case studies outside of the laboratory setting. The focus is on the epistemic particularities of the encountered, presumably paranormal, phenomena in the context of poltergeist cases or other cases of high strangeness, as well as the precarious cultural framework conditions under which the investigations have to take place. These particularities have an impact on the methodology that has to be used.

After these general considerations, based on an approach that we called “Reflexive Anomalistics,” I will present as examples two case studies in which I have been involved. The first concerns investigating a remarkable photographic anomaly that caused a great stir among the involved adolescents and young adults. We conducted interviews with several of these people. We made an on-site visit to get as clear a picture as possible of the photograph’s situation and its influence on the interpretations of the people involved. The second case also concerns anomalies in photos. In

this case, they had been recorded with a wildlife camera. This case serves as an example of how temporal and other contextual conditions affect perception.


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Published on March 4, 2023