Dr. Giorgio Gagliardi is a Catholic scientist who collaborated with the second study group on Medjugorje (1985) and was the scientific coordinator of the third one (1998).
From 1985 to 2002 he served as deputy director of the Center For Study and Research On Psychophysiology Of States Of Consciousness in Milan and, after many years of experience in this field of research, is almost a complete exception within the groups that have investigated Medjugorje seers.
These groups, in fact, were formed, in the overwhelming majority, of doctors who had never come close to similar phenomena.
This is due mainly to two reasons: scientific studies of the manifestations of the mystical type are still in their infancy, and researchers with some experience are, therefore, very few; in addition, the teams that run experimental studies on the Medjugorje seers weren't selected by an authority outside and above the parties, but were spontaneous and constituted themselves.
Dr. Gagliardi has developed an attitude of great caution in the interpretation of the phenomenon of Medjugorje.
On August 31, 2009 he kindly sent me a comment on those parts of my book that deal with scientific analyses.
With the author’s permission, I reproduce here his letter.
I read many books on the visions/apparitions of Medjugorje, and thus I happily read yours, “Medjugorje: è tutto falso” [Medjugorje: It's All False] (2007).
The documentation you cite details facts that a certain official history has neglected, and it is really weighty and meticulous, so that you don’t stumble like (among the many) Father Gramaglia, who, at page 50 of his book “The mistake of Medjugorje”, refers to “a physician of the Italian team” (he actually was a university professor) “who, when the young seers kneeled down, began to hear a mysterious music.”
In fact, that music was the Ave Maria being sung in the church, which sounded like a melody from a distance, and the mistery eventually revealed to be not-so-mysterious.
Your presentation of healings/miracles is detailed, especially about the contacts established between the physicians involved in Medjugorje and the Bureau Medical of Lourdes. It also sheds light on the protocols that had been set up at that time, which were insufficient and inadequate for the kind of investigation that was appropriately demanded for by the Bureau Medical. This does not mean that miraculous healings could not have happened remaining unknown by researchers, since the Supernatural does not conform to our various rules and motives.
Then, your reconstruction of the history of known and unknown committees is really important because it proves that those committees that published books, and books with results, were not the official ones organized by the different bishops of the diocese of Mostar (even if the experts of the official committees almost never ran repeated field experiments). The Italian and French committees were either self-initiated or (Italian committee of 1998) solicited and funded by the Franciscan friars of the parish of Medjugorje, who wanted to check what was happening and asked Father Resch to organize a team of experts.
What you report in your chapter on “Scientific investigations?” sheds light on how often researchers improvise an experiment, without the necessary preparation, because they are really novice: this is what happened to many physicians who for the first time observed that phenomenon in Medjugorje, whatever its cause was.
You also cite the case of Dr. Stopar, who is not the only one to hold prejudice and preconceived opinions. One should remember the scientific rule of focusing on the phenomenon under investigation, and not to what the observer wants it to be, even if behind the eye and the tools of the “ob-server” there is a brain selecting information.
The first method of the scientist consists in accepting the other people's experience with the humbleness of the researcher, not with built-in knowledge, that actually is not science but a very dangerous pseudoscience.
It is certain that objectivity has been often clouded by the opinions of the operators who showed up on the scene, but centuries ago the British Society for Psychical Research had already established, apparently with very little results, that what matters are not the, even boasted, titles of the “opera-C-tors”, but their experience in the field.
You mentioned Dr. Sisek, whom I met in Mostar (he was in the episcopal committee and attended a meeting in Zagreb, where there was an Italian panel on religious phenomenology) and was also very eager to know more, although he could not obtain the necessary scientific instruments to investigate altered or modified states of consciousness. But he was very open to the possibility a serious and unbiased study.
The medical tests, as you have reported these, are consistent with the account given by the physicians themselves, before they jumped to conclusions “beyond their professional expertise” (There is no reference to Paolo Maestri, an ENT specialist, who will direct the experiment on the evoked potentials, besides providing the instrument itself).
I would like to add the in 1984 I did an ECG recording of Ivan Dragicevic before, during, and after the ecstasy, while in 1985 the polygraph recorded Marija’s ecstasy only at baseline and during the ecstasy. That is, the polygraph was started when the ecstasy began, and was not running during the whole Rosary before the ecstasy and after the ecstasy itself. This recording method has lead to many neurophysiological “discoveries” and, later on (and because of my recommendation) has become popular as a means to highlight the individual changes, and has been massively adopted.
I found your description of certain tricks that have deceived scientists for years to be very interesting. Instances of these tricks also occur in the field of religion.
Overall, your book is very well documented and rigorously consistent with what happened, some details are obviously missing only because they were not included in the reports.
My field of research is confined to experimental science, and, even if it’s true that I cannot declare whether the phenomenon is true or false in the way the masses expect, I am happy that somebody wrote down what really happened in such an incontrovertible way as you did.