Friday, March 8, 2019

Robert Bigelow and research into consciousness

The Bigelow Foundation

In a post dated 22 November 2018, I wrote about the Bigelow Foundation. This Foundation carried out multiple projects, including follows ups to the Bigelow funded Roper report on Unusual Personal Experience; seminars on alternative health; and collaborative research in Las Vega;, central Nevada and Alabama; research assistance to researchers such as Budd Hopkins, and a radio show Area 2000, the forerunner to Art Bell's Coast to Coast program. Area 2000 featured many reports from the fields of ufology, alternative health, alternative energy and parapsychology and ran through early 1994.

The Bigelow Foundation was established on 12 April 1992, according to Nevada state records. Now it might just be a coincidence, but Robert T Bigelow's son, Rod Lee Bigelow (born 30 July 1967,) died on 3 March 1992. Some researchers have suggested that Bigelow's interest in near-death experiences and consciousness, derived from the passing of his son. (See update below.)

In 1997, Robert Thomas Bigelow, and his wife Diane, donated money to the University Of Nevada, Las Vegas to establish a Chair of Consciousness Studies.

Robert Thomas Bigelow

Bigelow Chair of Consciousness Studies

A University of Nevada, Las Vegas "News Center"release dated 9 April 1997 announced:

"A $3.7 million gift from Robert T and Diane Bigelow will fund a new academic position in the College of Science at UNLV according to UNLV President Carol C Harter.

The Bigelow Chair of Consciousness will initially be filled on an annual basis by distinguished visiting science scholars. The new position was recently advertised in several national academic and scientific publications.

'The students and faculty at UNLV are extremely fortunate that concerned citizens like Robert and Diane Bigelow take an active interest in the sciences and provide funds to bring the finest quality scholars here to teach,' said UNLV Provost Douglas Ferraro."

My Comment

I note that a Douglas P Ferraro was on the Science Advisory Board for Bigelow's National Institute of Discovery Science. (NIDS.)

"This new gift is a continuation of Bigelow family gifts in support of the Sciences and Health Colleges at UNLV.

'We are very interested in seeing the disciplines of physics, biology and chemistry -empirical scientific investigations into the natural laws of the Universe - applied to the study of consciousness,' explained Robert Bigelow, President of Bigelow Holding Company. 'There is a lot of important research by clinical biochemists, neurobiologists and others who are trying to understand consciousness. Our goal is simply to help scientists unravel some of the mystery of consciousness and ultimately benefit mankind.'

According to Warren Burggen, Dean of the UNLV College of Science, (and a former member of the NIDS Science Advisory Board) a very  small percentage of colleges and universities offer similar programs. Those that do include Duke, the University of Kentucky, Northeastern, Virginia Tech, Carlton College and Seton Hall, and some very serious universities are engaged in the scientific study of consciousness, but not many. So the Bigelows have presented our students with a unique opportunity. It is definitely a prize for UNLV.

The Bigelow name is very familiar to students, faculty and staff who work and learn in the Robert L Bigelow [named after Robert T Bigelow's father - KB] Physics Building

The Robert L Bigelow Physics building

and the Robert Lee Bigelow Health Sciences Building [named after Robert T Bigelow's son. - KB]

Robert T Bigelow's deep interest in Science and investment in scientific research at UNLV resulted in his selection by the Board of Regents as a distinguished Nevadan in 1995. Thanks in part to the Bigelow's generosity, UNLV is gaining national recognition for academic excellence in the sciences, mathematics and health sciences..."

A further UNLV "News Center" release, dated 3 July 1997  advised that:

"A Professor of psychology at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, in Palo Alto, Calif, has been hired as UNLV's first Bigelow Chair of Consciousness Studies, President Carol C Harter announced Thursday.

Charles T Tart will assume his duties in UNLV's College of Sciences this fall.

The Bigelow Chair of Consciousness Studies was established and funded by a gift of $3.7 million from Robert T and Diane Bigelow of Las Vegas. The chair will initially be filled on an annual basis by distinguished visiting science scholars.

'UNLV is about to begun developing a program in the fascinating area of consciousness studies, and we are most fortunate to have a scholar of Dr Tart's considerable experience and reputation in the field to guide our efforts' Harter said.

Tart, who has been at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology since 1994, also served as visiting professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Fransisco (1994-95) and professor of psychiatry at the University of California- Davis (1966-94), where he is now Professor Emeritus. He is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Noetic Sciences in Sausalito, Calif, was a lecturer in psychology at Stanford University(1964-65) and an instructor in psychology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

'Dr Tart's scholarship in the area of consciousness studies is extensive' said Provost Douglas Ferraro. At UNLV he will be developing curriculum  and launching our program in consciousness studies.'

Robert Bigelow said, 'With his long and distinguished record in  consciousness studies, Dr Tart is well suited to to establishing a program at UNLV where empirical scientific investigation can be applied to research into the nature of human consciousness.'

Tart who received his PhD, MA and BA in psychology from the University of North Carolina,serves on several advisory boards for organisations concerned with psychological research and is a member  of the American Society for Psychical Research. He sits on the editorial board of eight professional journals in this field and has written a dozen books and numerous articles and published numerous audio tapes on related topics."

A third UNLV "News Center" release dated 20 May 1998 advised that:

"The University of Nevada, Las Vegas has named Dr Raymond A Moody, a psychology professor and researcher, to fill the Bigelow Chair of Consciousness Studies during the 1998-99 academic year, President Carol C Harter announced today.

Moody, who holds the PhD in Philosophy from the University of Virginia and the MD from the Medical College of Georgia, will begin his teaching position  in UNLV's College of Science in August.

'UNLV is fortunate to have a scholar of Dr Moody's caliber join the faculty for the coming academic year,' Harter said.

Research and writings on near-death experiences should be of considerable interest to students and to audiences of his public lectures.

The Bigelow Chair of Consciousness Studies was established and funded by a gift of $3.7 million from Robbert T and Diane Bigelow of Las Vegas.The chair is filled on an annual basis by distinguished visiting science scholars.

A former forensic psychiatrist at Central Georgia State Hospital, Dr Moody currently conducts research at his private institute, The Theatre of the Mind. He has held positions in philosophy at East Carolina University and West Georgia College and a visiting scholarship at the University of Virginia.

He has published several books, including 'Life After Life,' 'The Light Beyond' and "Laugh after laugh: Humor in Relation to Health and Illness." He has also published in professional journals regarding near-death experiences.

'I am thrilled to have the opportunity to teach again, and I believe that UNLV should be applauded for standards of scientific rigor regarding claims of rational evidence as proof of the continuation of consciousness upon bodily death. The extraordinary states of consciousness deemed paranormal are an enduring human concern that will not go away, and I have been hopeful that students with a serious interest in these topics would have a setting, within which they could learn about paranormal phenomena from  a non-ideological perspective.'

Moody will be teaching two classes a semester. He plans to bring UNLV internationally known researchers in the areas of past life regression, mind/body connection, facilitated apparitions and other related fields to address his classes..."

Other information

Looking through other UNLV "News Center" releases, I found the following examples of public lectures, which provide an indication of a focus around the subject of near-death experiences/life after actual death:

* "Death and dying" - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

* "Near-death experiences" - Michael Sabom

* "Past life regression and reincarnation" - Brian Weiss

* "Near-death experiences" - Bruce Greyson

* "Philosophy and the after life" - Raymondy Moody, Robert Almeder, Michael Grosso

* "Mindsight: Near-death experiences of the Blind"- Kenneth Ring

* "Possibility of consciousness surving after death" - Edgar Mitchell. (The US astronaut, who was also on the Science Advisory board for NIDS.

In fact, at this point it would be worth while providing a list of individuals who were on the NIDS Science Advisory Board, taken from the Wayback Machine's filing of the NIDS website.

John B Alexander; Warren Burggren; Douglas P Ferraro; Albert A Harrison; Edgar Mitchell; Melvin Morse; Martin Piltch; Harold E Puthoff; Theodore Rockwell; John F Scheussler; Jessica Utts; Jacques Vallee; Jim Whinnery.

Several of these names; e.g. Alexander; Mitchell; Puthoff; Scheussler;Vallee, will be familiar to UAP researchers of today.


The Department of Consciousness Studies at UNLV lasted until 2002 "...when Bigelow decided to redirect its funding towards scholarships." I have been unable to find out any further information regarding this cessation

An aside

Between 1993 and 1998 parapsychologist Dean Radin, was Director, Consciousness Research Laboratory at UNLV.

Update 9 March 2019

On page 296 of "Forbidden Science Volume 4" (2019,) written by Jacques Vallee, there is  comment about Robert Bigelow which reads "Bob became fascinated with survival research after his 22 year son died a few years ago in the desert." Diary entry dated 3 February 1996.


  1. Brilliant research as ever Keith,
    Fascinating how many of the top NDE researchers are on the Advisory Board. Melvin Morse is another big gun.
    George Knapp mentioned that Sen Reid listened in to the NIDS SA Board meetings a couple of times and that another senator sat on the board. Any idea who this was? (OpenMinds i/v George Knapp 11th Oct 2018)

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately, I do not know who that other Senator was.

  2. In Jacques Vallee's new book "Forbidden Science Volume 4 he refers to a Senator Harrison Schmidt as being a NIDS associate.

  3. Thanks Keith. Looks like his interest only stretched as far as the cattle mutilations. Sure you are aware of it but Kit Green was also involved with NIDS.That's another scientist involved with consciousness research to add to the pile. Longeyes


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