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Lecture 2: A Brief History of Parapsychology

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Lecture 2: A Brief History of Parapsychology 1. Introduction and basic terminology 2. Evidence from antiquity 3. The rise of spiritualism 4. The Society for Psychical ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Lecture 2: A Brief History of Parapsychology


1
Lecture 2 A Brief History of Parapsychology
  • 1. Introduction and basic terminology
  • 2. Evidence from antiquity
  • 3. The rise of spiritualism
  • 4. The Society for Psychical Research
  • 5. 1930-1960s The Duke University Period
  • 6. Fraud within parapsychology

2
Precognitive Dreams
3
Miraculous Healing
4
Strange Powers
5
Divination
6
Telepathy
7
Historical Perspective
  • Shows that ostensibly paranormal experiences are
    an important part of human experience
  • Either paranormal forces exist
  • Or we learn something useful about human
    psychology
  • Makes us question our own assumptions

8
Do you believe in fairies?
9
Fairies in Folklore
10
Cottingley Fairies (1917)Elsie Wright (13)
11
Cottingley Fairies (1917)Frances Griffiths (10)
12
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
13
Cottingley Fairies Articles
14
Phrenology
15
Basic Terminology
  • Psychokinesis (PK) "the influence of mind on
    external objects or processes without the
    mediation of known physical energies or forces"
    (Wolman, 1977)

16
Psychokinesis (PK)Nina Kulagina
17
Basic Terminology
  • Psychokinesis (PK) "the influence of mind on
    external objects or processes without the
    mediation of known physical energies or forces"
    (Wolman, 1977)
  • Extrasensory Perception (ESP) "knowledge of or a
    response to an external event or influence not
    apprehended through known sensory channels"
    (Wolman, 1977)

18
ESP includes
  • 1) telepathy (transference of thoughts between
    two people)

19
Telepathy?
20
ESP includes
  • 1) telepathy (transference of thoughts between
    two people)
  • 2) clairvoyance (awareness of remote objects or
    events)

21
Clairvoyance?
22
ESP includes
  • 1) telepathy (transference of thoughts between
    two people)
  • 2) clairvoyance (awareness of remote objects or
    events)
  • 3) precognition (knowledge of events before they
    occur, other than as a result of inference)

23
Precognition?
24
Psi
  • a general term to identify a person's
    extrasensorimotor communication with the
    environment (Wolman, 1977).
  • NB Strict definition of the paranormal, as used
    by parapsychologists, limits subject matter to
    PK, ESP, and (possibly) issues relating to
    life-after-death.

25
Oracles in Ancient Greece
26
The Delphic Oracle
27
King Croesus of Lydia(c. 550 BC)
28
Biblical examplesPrecognitive dreams
29
Apparitions
30
Healing
31
Physical Phenomena
32
Prophetic Visions
33
The Rise of SpiritualismHydesville, NY, March
1848
34
The Fox Sisters
35
Rapping Sounds in the Bedroom
36
Communicating with the Spirits?
37
Typical Seance
38
Other Strange PhenomenaLevitation
39
Playing of Musical Instruments by Unseen Hands
and Lips
40
Lights in the Dark
41
Apports
42
Materialisation of Spirit Forms
43
Ectoplasm
44
Spirit Photographs
45
Written Communications
46
Table Tilting
47
Michael Faraday
48
Robert Hare,American Chemist
49
Alfred Russell Wallace,Cofounder Theory of
Evolution
50
Sir William Crookes,Discoverer of Thallium
51
Florence Cook
52
Katie King
53
More than a passing resemblance?
54
All down to trickery?
55
The Society for Psychical Research
  • Founded in UK in 1882
  • American Society for Psychical Research founded
    in 1885
  • One major aim was to scientifically prove that
    the soul survived bodily death

56
Response to Darwins Ideas
57
Daniel Dunglas Home
58
Harry HoudiniThe Worlds Greatest Conjuror
59
Houdini and Conan Doyle
60
Luminous Faces Effect
61
Bells rung by spirits?
62
Houdinis Ectoplasm
63
Houdinis Slate Writing
64
Fox Sisters Confess (1888)
  • Noises produced in various ways including
    cracking of toe and ankle joints
  • Schoolgirl prank had got out of hand
  • Spiritualists simply refused to believe confession

65
A Time of Transition for Psychical Research
Phenomena most researched
  • 1. mental phenomena of psychics and mediums

66
Leonora Piper (as a child)
67
Gladys Osborne Leonard
68
Eileen Garrett
69
A Time of Transition for Psychical Research
Phenomena most researched
  • 1. mental phenomena of psychics and mediums (e.g.
    Leonara Piper, Gladys Osborne Leonard, Eileen
    Garrett)
  • 2. physical phenomena of the type produced by Home

70
Eusapia Palladino
71
Eusapia in Action
72
A Time of Transition for Psychical Research
Phenomena most researched
  • 1. mental phenomena of psychics and mediums (e.g.
    Leonara Piper, Gladys Osborne Leonard, Eileen
    Garrett)
  • 2. physical phenomena of the type produced by
    Home (e.g. Eusapia Palladino)
  • 3. investigations of hauntings and poltergeists

73
Poltergeist Activity
74
A Time of Transition for Psychical Research
Phenomena most researched
  • 1. mental phenomena of psychics and mediums (e.g.
    Leonara Piper, Gladys Osborne Leonard, Eileen
    Garrett)
  • 2. physical phenomena of the type produced by
    Home (e.g. Eusapia Palladino)
  • 3. investigations of hauntings and poltergeists
  • 4. the evolution of controlled experiments (e.g.
    ESP studies of card guessing)

75
The Duke University PeriodJoseph Rhine
76
Louisa Rhine
77
Joseph Rhines Approach
  • Large scale investigations of presumed psychic
    ability of ordinary people
  • Easily controlled simple tests
  • Statistical evaluation of results
  • E.g., use of Zener cards

78
General Extrasensory Perception (GESP)
  • Cannot rule out possibility of clairvoyance in
    telepathy studies
  • Cannot rule out precognition in clairvoyance
    studies
  • Cannot rule out PK in precognition studies
  • So Rhine preferred GESP!

79
Rhines Dice PK Studies

80
Rhines Book (1934)
81
Response to Rhine (1934)
  • Attempts at replication
  • Some claimed success
  • Many failures (especially in Britain)
  • Statistical criticisms
  • Technically correct, but insubstantial
  • Methodological criticisms
  • More serious
  • Led to improvements in methodology

82
Samuel George SoalBritish Mathematician
83
Soals Attempted Replication
  • Around 160 participants
  • 128,350 trials
  • Attempted to remove all flaws and weaknesses from
    Rhines design
  • No deviation from chance expectation
  • But then found displacement effects for Gloria
    Stewart and Basil Shackleton

84
New Series of Studies
  • Shackletons performance at MCE for direct hits
  • But p-value with respect to next card in series
    at 1 in 1035!
  • Stewart obtained a direct hit rate with p-value
    of 1079!

85
George Prices (1955) Critique
  • Review of Soal and Bateman (1954) Modern
    Experiments in Telepathy in Science
  • Results in favour of psi must be due to
  • "clerical and statistical errors and
    unintentional use of sensory clues" or
  • "deliberate fraud or mildly abnormal mental
    conditions."

86
Exposing Soals Fraud
  • Mrs Gretls allegations
  • Published in 1960 by Soal and Goldney
  • Medhursts (1971) analysis
  • Scott Haskells (1973, 1974) analyses
  • Markwicks (1978) analysis
  • J G Pratt still maintains Soals innocence

87
Fraud Within Parapsychology
  • Historical evidence of fraudulent mediums
  • S G Soal
  • Walter Levy in 1970s
  • Circumstantial evidence against Uri Geller
  • Geller kids
  • Are parapsychologists easy to fool?

88
James Randis (1980)Project Alpha
  • Steve Shaw and Michael Edwards
  • McDonnell Laboratory for Psychical Research,
    Washington University
  • Over two year period, performed all standard
    tricks metal bending, mind reading, divining
    contents of sealed envelopes, etc
  • Described as gifted psychic subjects

89
Acknowledgement
  • With thanks to Hilary Evans, proprietor of the
    Mary Evans Picture Library, for permission to use
    illustrations featured in this presentation.
    These illustrations must not be reproduced in any
    form without permission from the Mary Evans
    Picture Library.
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