Direct vision

Could there be other means of perception? More or less, it’s considered to be a part of collective knowledge in many societies, that there might exist secret inner ways of acquiring certain knowledge. Historical religious, as well as present esoteric literature, is full of such examples where particular persons perceive information as somehow extrasensory. Actually, more than 50 % of the population believes in extrasensory perception (ESP). They might not care about the mechanism of it, let it be intuition or direct communication with gods. Indeed, it appears, that what keeps us “alive”, are different sorts of beliefs including extraordinary human abilities.

Acquiring information without eyes is one of them. Could this be one modality of ESP? Anyway, when somebody offers training for the release of hidden ESP abilities in any of us, the response as well as commercial potential is guaranteed.

We got in contact with a school of “Direct vision” led by Mark Komissarov. In 2013-2014 we managed to attend several of his demonstrations. For a while, the fascination possessed us too. We undertook an investigation that included first-hand experience with wearing a mask (Fig. 1) as well as close inspection of demonstrations of this phenomenon on other subjects, including several attempts for measurement. We have trained ourselves with the mask, visited the workshop and were personally introduced to this “art”. We allowed ourselves to be psychologically persuaded, in order to feel the situation from the point of view of course participants. After being excited and at the same time baffled, we raised certain serious concerns. We’ve realized, how one can be easily cheated by his or her own senses.

Fig. 1: Test on light penetration with Mr. Mark Komissarov.

After some testing (Fig. 2), we have found out, where the place through which the light penetrates under the mask is located. The mask has to be worn in a “right manner” so that a tiny gap is left near one’s nose or at the lower edge of the mask (Fig. 3). During the demonstration with a mask, in a moment when it was not possible to see “through” it, the author of the method instructed the subject to release the tight position of the mask.

Fig. 2: Test on different mask position. Left: upper position – one can see. Right: tight position – one can’t see anything.
Fig. 3: Left: turning of the head to the side enables to see. Right: gaps, where the light penetrates must be additionally shielded.

Moreover, several other situations have shown, that their approach is not a serious one. The proponents did their best in order to prove it scientifically. However, it’s not possible to do so without basic knowledge of standard scientific approach. Unfortunately, they were resistant to our objections. For example, on one occasion Mr. Komissarov brought a simple digital device measuring light intensity, in order to demonstrate that his mask doesn’t allow any light to pass. When I quickly demonstrated, that his handmade device is showing zero light even when some lower intensity of light is present, he just put the device aside with some anger.

Then, the ultimate opportunity for “scientific proof” was organized by Mr. Komissarov himself. Together with his team, we undertook advanced optometric diagnostics at Eye Clinique. Their main aim was to show that with the use of the mask, certain normal visual abilities persist. Of course, they partly do, as long as a tiny gap between the face and mask is preserved. The test methodology was wrong because it didn’t count on the possibility of testing and eventually falsifying our natural hypothesis. One can read the results of these tests stored in our archive as “…Electrophysiological examination PERG, ERG, PhNR serves for complex eye diagnostics, providing objective information about the functioning of the retina and optic nerve… The tests examined the drawing of the NPN complex and the configuration of waves N35/P50/N95… The result of the retinal examination with the mask differed from the examination without the mask only by the intensity of the response, the latencies remain preserved.” Indeed, this is a relatively clever strategy from the proponents of alternatives to hide behind sophisticated and professionally looking language from medicine or natural sciences. So, finally, the test confirmed nothing but their previously built belief in human superpowers.

Our conclusions are in accordance with the findings of other investigations (The Czech Skeptics Club Sisyfos, videos from 2014, 2015, and 2016). Also, we consider as highly unethical to offer false hope for blind people who were attending these courses. What we found as characteristic in similar cases, the author seemed to convince himself that the method works, even actively seeking cooperation with scientists to prove that his method is true. On the other hand, his lack of basic knowledge of scientific inquiry and proper investigation, together with his denial or avoidance of basic facts and outcomes from real tests made him a largely incredible person without inner integrity. Thus, we warn the general public from blind belief in similar things and encourage them to use critical thinking and fact-checking.

Our investigation shed light on many hidden details and revealed how it works behind the scenes. We have also at least partially understood, what their working methods, approaches, and beliefs were. Similar cases include activities where somebody is offering mass commercial courses for acquiring any extraordinary ability. We pointed out to nonseriousness of such businesses and call for distrust into this and similar cases. Of course, a case like this hasn’t ruled out the existence of ESP. If the ESP phenomenon does exist at all, it seems to have an emergent nature, disclosing itself only under tense real-life situations.

Final verdict: Direst vision is a tricky cheating. However, many members of their community sincerely believe in this phenomenon.