This participatory team science project extended Laythe and Houran’s (2022) prior application of a famous probabilistic argument known as the ‘Drake equation’ to the question of postmortem survival. Specifically, we evaluated effect sizes from peer-reviewed, empirical studies to determine the maximum average percentage effect that ostensibly supports (i.e., "anomalous effects") or refutes (i.e., "known confounds") the survival hypothesis. But unlike the earlier application, this research included a study-specific estimate of the hypothesized variable of ‘living agent psi’ via a new meta-analysis of empirical studies (N = 17) with exceptional subjects vs participants from the general population. Our updated analysis found that putative psi was a meaningful variable, although it along with other known confounds still did not account for 30.3% of survival-related phenomena that appear to attest directly to human consciousness continuing after physical (biological) death. Thus, the popular conventional variables that we measured here are seemingly insufficient to account for a sizable portion of the purported empirical data that has been interpreted as evidence of survival. Our conclusion is nonetheless tempered by several assumptions and limitations of our speculative exercise, which ultimately does not affirm the existence of an ‘afterlife’ but rather highlights the need for measurements with greater precision and/ or a more comprehensive set of quantifiable variables. Therefore, we discuss how our probabilistic approach provides important heuristics to guide future research in this highly controversial domain that touches both parapsychology and transpersonal psychology.
Rock, Adam J.; Houran, James; Tressoldi, Patrizio E.; and Laythe, Brian, "Is Biological Death Final? Recomputing the Drake-S Equation for Postmortem Survival of Consciousness" (2023). International Journal of Transpersonal Studies Advance Publication Archive. 65.
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