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James (1899). William James: Reproduction of his Entry on "Telepathy" in Johnson's Universal Cyclopædia, 1899. (William James, in The Will to Believe (New York, Longmans Green & Co, 1897), stated, on p. 10, "Why do so few 'scientists' ever look at the evidence for telepathy, so-called? Because they think, as a leading biologist, now dead, once said to me, that even if such a thing were true, scientists ought to band together to keep it suppressed and concealed. It would undo the uniformity of nature and all sorts of other things without which scientists cannot carry on their pursuits."

People like to carry on about 2 cases of subject fraud to "discredit", early SPR work. They concern Blackburn and Smith, and the Creery sisters. Of the Creery sister experiments, Hamilton notes, on pp. 119-120 of Immortal Longings, the feeling of SPR members that in the early experiments fraud was ruled out, and that critics complaints do not apply to the whole case. He notes after Gurney's discovery of the code, "From then on, Sidgwick rigorously excluded all their results as possible evidence for telepathy. [William] Barrett strongly protested at this, pointing out that the code only covered situations when the sitters were in sight of each other and that there was plenty of other evidence that telepathically occurred when these conditions did not obtain. [...] The girls performed well on these and other tests but Barrett felt it was obvious what had happened. The girls had become bored and were also worried that their abilities fluctuated, so they invented the code in order not to disappoint their important visitors." Frank Podmore also refutes critical attacks regarding the Creery sisters in his 1894 article What Psychical Research Has Accomplished. He noted that cheating was detected by members of the community themselves, and argued that those tests considered by members of the Society for Psychical Research to be of value precluded the opportunities for cheating of the later fraudulent performances.

For evidence that William Barrett, a researcher associated with the early experiments, was not as credulous as his detractors believed, see his book Psychical Research (Henry Holt and Company, 1911), pp. 44-51, for his defense of S.P.R. experiments, see pp. 52-81. For corroboration of these results from a skeptic, see W.W. Baggally (1917/1920) Telepathy: Genuine and Fraudulent, with a forward by Oliver Lodge. Frank Podmore came to increasingly favorable conclusions about telepathy - while Tuckett, in p. 307 of his book, quotes some reserved comments about it from "Modern Spiritualism", he wrote about it at length in Telepathic Hallucinations: The New View of Ghosts (for WF Prince's rebuttal to Ivor Lloyd Tuckett's dismissal of this, see p. 99 of The Enchanted Boundary, Tuckett relies on Innes' attack on Phantasms of the Living which has been rebutted (see the rebuttal and especially the discussion accompanying it), the attacks of Simon Newcomb (refuted below - this, and WF Prince's accompanying argument, removes the weight from the argument Tuckett is trying to make), and arguments of the kind that Prince spends some time challenging in the later part of his text - the British Medical Journal review of Tuckett's book attacks William Barrett for not mentioning the critical work of Frank Podmore, yet he mentions it in connection with a case and on p. 251 of the text in his bibliography, he highlights Podmore's text "Modern Spiritualism". Regarding the validity of the text, the reader will find James Hyslop's review to be of interest).

Regarding Blackburn and Smith - Blackburn argued fraud, Smith denied it - in Immortal Longings by Trevor Hamilton, it is written, in the context of a review of all the counter-arguments, on p. 120 "After all this time it is not possible to state whether Smith was fraudulent or not. There just is not enough evidence." I think that the evidence is in favor of Smith, but I recommend Hamilton's 2016 SPR article Smith and Blackburn prior to pursuing my arguments. In should be noted though that Gauld stated in the aforementioned The Founders of Psychical Research, p. 180n, that "Blackburn'e career and character are obscure, but they do not seem to have been such as to inspire confidence in his 'confessions', see J.S.P.R. [Journal of the Society for Psychical Research] XLIII (1965), pp. 222-3." An extended discussion of the case is given by WF Prince in The Enchanted Boundary, pp. 108-113. He pointed out that the original report suggested the "possibility of a code" to explain the results, that Blackburn's testimony concerning tests was in conflict with the descriptions of tests in the original reports, and that the results of the tests with Blackburn and Smith were not considered to be of sufficient value to be included as evidence of telepathy in Gurney and Myers' text Phantasms of the Living.

Contrast this to what we discover about Smith in JSPR vol. 15 (1911-12), p. 130:

An interview with Mr. Feilding [whom Eric Dingwall, who critics of the SPR like to cite, greatly admired, though see above on Dingwall] was published on Sept. 7th, in which he "endorsed the statement of Mr. Smith published in the "Daily News" on Monday [Sept. 4th], and paid a tribute to him as a careful, painstaking experimenter who was interested in telepathy, but was at the same time always slightly sceptical about experiments."

"How these experiments could be faked interested Gurney and Smith very much," said Mr. Feilding, "and they used to make experiments in faking and then, in testing an exposition, try every means to obviate the methods they had discovered. Gurney was extraordinarily ingenious in discovering means of communication, and some of the things which Mr. Blackburn says actually happened were only invented in order to prevent them being used.......

"I am perfectly satisfied with the possibility of [telepathy] taking place, and should like to say that in the event of any readers of this correspondence believing themselves able to show telepathic power, I should be grateful, on my return from abroad, to have the opportunity of conducting experiments with them."

In "The Search for Psychic Power", C.E.M. Hansel wrote that "Sir Horatio Dokin (1854-1927), a physician and a prominent critic, stated in the Westminster Gazette of November 26, 1907, that he had been told of two occasions when outside observers were invited to see Smith and Blackburn in action. Once, precautions taken to prevent possible auditory communication put a stop to the thought transference. On the other occasion, precautions against visual communication had a similar effect. Donkin pointed out that no mention was made in the published accounts of the presence of these observers or of the tests that were applied and the effects that were observed." Hamilton noted in his aforementioned SPR article that "In articles published in 1907-8, critics argued that evidence indicative of deception during the Smith-Blackburn experiments had been suspected by one or more of the observers and that, when extra precautions were taken against the use of secret codes – such as Smith being enclosed in a pillow-case - the experiments failed. In fact, these assertions were at odds with the published report, which stated the reverse: no cheating was observed and the trial in which the pillow-case had been used produced significant results."

For more details, we can look at Ruffles, Tom.(2011). George Albert Smith (1864-1959): From Stage to Screen. Unpublished PhD thesis. Anglia Polytechnic University, where we find that:

"The first hint of a problem was a letter by Donkin in The Westminster Gazette on 26 November 1907. He said that two friends had on separate occasions attended experiments during the winter of 1882-3, and they had told him at the time that they had guarded against auditory and visual communications, whereupon phenomena had ceased. Donkin pointed out that neither was mentioned in the SPR’s reports. Mrs Sidgwick, the SPR’s Hon Secretary, replied in the issue of 29 November 1907. She dissected Donkin’s letter, noting that he was not present himself; he had not named the alleged participants, nor the experimenters or subjects; and was recalling events of twenty-five years before. Donkin responded with a further letter published on 18 December. He now gave details: the experiments had occurred in December 1882, January 1883 and April 1883. The witnesses were the alienist Sir James Crichton-Browne and Dr A Hughes Bennett. The experiments were carried out by Smith and Blackburn. He added that the reports did not mention either of these individuals, nor the effects of their presence.[1]

Crichton-Browne then weighed in with a letter to the Gazette, published on 29 January 1908. [2] He confessed that he was writing from memory, but recalled that also present were G J Romanes, Francis Galton, Henry Sidgwick and Frederic Myers. [3] He and Romanes suspected that Smith and Blackburn were using a code which could convey a verbal description of the picture target so they introduced squiggles that could not be described verbally. Smith was unable to reproduce these. They also improved Smith’s sensory isolation with cotton-wool, ear plugs and a head cover. All experiments conducted under these conditions failed, according to Crichton-Browne. There was a lady present whom he believed to be Mrs Blackburn. This lady has been the subject of rather pointless controversy. She was not Mrs Blackburn as he never married. Hall believed her to be Smith’s sister Alice. Broad thought this ‘flimsy’, based as it was on the ancient recollection of Smith’s niece, Mrs Ford, that Blackburn was “walking out” with Alice, but he considered it unimportant. [4] Hall was probably right as one of Smith’s sisters is mentioned in the ‘First Report of the Committee on Mesmerism’ as having mesmerised Mr Wolferstan. Either way, Crichton-Browne thought that she might have participated in the transmission of codes between Blackburn and Smith. Broad believed that the lack (as he thought it) of any such individual either meant that the SPR report was “culpably defective” by omission, or Crichton-Browne’s 25-year old memories were in error, his money clearly being on the latter while Hall’s was on the former. However, while each was wrong, this point which Broad thought unimportant actually gives credibility to Crichton-Browne’s account. Yet Nicol skewers Crichton-Browne by pointing out that none of the witnesses present detected any signals, and no cheating was found. The experiment with the coverings was actually a success, contrary to Crichton-Browne’s claim. An outside possibility regarding the identity of the mystery lady is that she was Mrs Fanny Parsons, the auctioneer’s wife with whom Blackburn had an affair. She had stayed in hotels with him, presumably calling herself Mrs Blackburn, in August and September 1883 and February 1884, and Blackburn was cited as co-respondent in the subsequent divorce action.

[1] The absence of these names may seem surprising, and it is clearly a weakness, but as Nicol, 1968, p.3, points out, this occurred frequently; William James’s attendance at a Brighton session, for example, was not included in the report. Nicol makes the valid point (p.4) that if the report had misrepresented the facts, then given the numbers present at the experiments they would surely have requested a correction, but nobody did.

[2] A long extract is given by Hall, The Strange Case of Edmund Gurney, 1964, pp.111-15; a shortened version is given by Ivor Tuckett, ‘Psychical Researchers and the Will to Believe’, Bedrock, July 1912, pp197-8. See also Oppenheim, The Other World, 1985, pp.285-6. Crichton-Browne returned to the experiments in his much later The Doctor’s Second Thoughts, 1931, pp.58-64. The title did not relate to this particular subject.

[3] Romanes (who died in May 1894) was a member of the Committee on Mesmerism (he was joint secretary with Podmore - Circular No 1, February 1883), so may well have been present. Francis Galton (who died in January 1911) does not seem – as far as the published accounts indicate – to have participated in the SPR’s experimental work, and was not a member, but he may have been present as a guest. He and Romanes certainly knew each other: they had both been members of an ad hoc committee which had investigated Washington Irving Bishop and reported in Nature (Romanes, ‘Thought-Reading’, 23 June 1881; Oppenheim, The Other World, 1985, p.295). This committee was referred to in the SPR’s ‘First Report on Thought-Reading’, Proc.SPR Vol. 1, p.14 and it is possible that Crichton-Browne was confusing the two events. Luckhurst probably was as well when he said that Galton attended SPR sessions, giving Proc.SPR Vol. 1 as his source (‘Passages in the Invention of the Psyche: Mind-reading in London, 1881-84. In Luckhurst, Roger and Josephine McDonagh (eds.), Transactions and Encounters: Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century, 2002b, p.127). Crichton-Browne, perhaps surprisingly, had joined the SPR in 1904. Andrew Lang recounted an incident when they were testing dowsing (Longman’s Magazine, November 1897). Crichton-Browne insisted that cotton wool be used on the dowser, who objected, and when the dowser asked, “Don’t you believe my word?”, Crichton-Browne replied, “I believe nothing but what I see” which Lang dismissed with “not a very scientific posture, I fear” (reported by Barrett in ‘On the So-called Divining Rod’, Proc.SPR, Vol. 15, p.282, published in 1900). Crichton-Browne was clearly a firm believer in the efficacy of cotton wool, and may have nursed a sense of grievance in 1908. Lang was SPR President in 1911.

[4] Hall, The Strange Case of Edmund Gurney, 1964, p.95, fn1.pp.186-7. Nicol points out that Hall does not say how Mrs Ford came by this information, which occurred before she was born. (Nicol, ‘The Silences of Mr Trevor Hall’, 1966, p.30. Nicol is scathing about the quality of “Browne’s” memory (the hyphen was an affectation linking his middle and surnames)."

Particular attack on Trevor Hall's insinuations regarding the significance of the Blackburn and Smith work in the life of the psychical researcher Edmund Gurney, alleging that this contributed to his suicide, is provided in Nicol, F. (1966). The silences of Mr Trevor Hall. International Journal of Parapsychology 8: 5-59 (c.f. Hall, T. H. (1968). The Strange Case of Edmund Gurney. Some comments on Mr. Fraser Nicol’s review. International Journal of Parapsychology 10: 149-164. and Nicol, F. (1968 unpublished). A Rejoinder ... and Some New Facts Papers, SPR Archive, Cambridge University Library; Nicol, F. letters to Broad, 31/5/1968, 16/2/1970, D1/17/38-51, in Broad, C.D. Papers, Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge. See also Coleman (1992). The Death of Edmund Gurney, which discusses the unreliability of Trevor Hall's account, and how former associates of Hall distanced themselves from him).

Critics of the Creery sisters and Blackburn-Smith experiments overlook the Guthrie experiments, profiled by FWH Myers in Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death, beginning on p. 601, described by Alan Gauld in his 1968 book The Founders of Psychical Research, p. 357, as follows, "The agents included Mr. Guthrie and various other persons of repute in the Liverpool district; also Gurney. A drawing would be prepared in a room apart, and then brought into a room where the blindfolded percipient sat. It would then be placed on a wooden stand where the percipient could not have seen it even if she had not been blindfolded. The agent, or agents, would then look at it until the percipient indicated that she ready to try to reproduce it. A number of very striking successes were obtained." Harry Price in The Story of ESP (below) actually spoke positively about the Guthrie experiment, and so did Morton Prince. Rosalind Heywood, in a chapter in Science and ESP (J R Smythies, ed. Routledge, Apr 15, 2013) entitled "Notes on Changing Mental Climates", on p. 55n3, wrote that "[S]imilar experiments have been done, with a considerable degree of success, by Dr. Carl Bruck in Germany, René Warcollier in France, and Upton Sinclair in America. And in England, Whately Carington did a number of successful series with randomly chosen targets and widely scattered percipients."

These were followed-up by Oliver Lodge (from Gauld, op. cit., p. 357, we find that these experiments were "[A} continuation, with positive results, of the preceding [Guthrie] experiments." - see also Lodge's article in Nature:;view=1up;seq=169 (on Lodge, Oliver Lodge is attacked by some on account of his alleged credulity in uncritically believing that the mentalist David Devant was demonstrating powers that had no naturalistic explanation. This, however, is a mere allegation, since, as a review in the Psypioneer Journal, Vol. 1, January 2013, on p. 16, of the book "The Thought Reader Craze", entitled "Thought Reading Reconsidered" states: "In a 1935 article, for example, the illusionist David Devant recalled how in 1909 he (or rather his assistant Dora) had read a sealed letter on stage (p.146ff.). Sir Oliver Lodge, who was in the audience, was quoted as publicly declaring to the audience that supernatural power was being exercised to do this, and is said to have persisted in this belief even when assured it was an illusion. Colleagues have located for Wiley a 1909 letter from Maskelyne responding to one from Lodge, seeking to know how the trick was done. That does not suggest Lodge thought it paranormal (the word which Lodge might have used in preference to “supernatural”).":, and for more experiments, see descriptions on p. 601n of Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death, and pp. 614-636 of that text.

An abridgement of Whately Carington's paper on quality ESP experiments providing early evidence for the phenomenon can be found in JSPR vol. XXX, p. 295ff. And Harry Price stated in Fifty Years of Psychical Research, "Most of the extrasensory research work has been done in England, though certain foreigners have experimented in the field. Among these are Max Dessoir of Berlin, who sent his results to the compilers of Phantasms of the Living, where they are illustrated and discussed(25); Rene Warcollier(26) of Paris; John Edgar Coover(27) of Stanford University, who obtained 10,000 guesses with 100 students using playing cards; Naum Kotik(28), the Russian, and many others. The reader can conveniently study the work of all these experimenters in the Journal and Proceedings of the SPR. The brilliant results with Ossowiecki have already been mentioned in these pages(29). The most impressive experiments, in the opinion of Mr. S. G. Soal, who is the greatest authority on everything pertaining to ESP, were those conducted by Professor H. J. F. W. Brugmans, the late Professor G. Heymans, and Dr. A. A. Weinberg with the subject van Dam in the Department of Psychology at Groningen University. In these experiments, the subject was seated behind a curtain, blindfolded, and was only able to push his hand under the curtain to move a piece on a chessboard that was numbered and lettered in the Continental fashion. Brugmans and his assistants sat in a darkened room above and watched van Dam through a glass pane in the ceiling. The experimenters 'willed' van Dam to move the piece to a certain square determined by a random draw of a letter and number from two sets of cards. Nothing of van Dam could be seen except his hand. In 187 trials the subject obtained 60 successes as against 4 that chance would suggest. It was found that alcohol increased the percentage of successes. In the oft-quoted Experimental Telepathy and Clairvoyance in England, Soal remarks that 'the English experimenters in telepathy have produced no positive investigations which are at all comparable in scientific precision' with the experiments carried out by Professor Brugmans and his colleagues(30)." The Brugmans experiments can still be defended - they are featured below.)

Newcomb. (1909). Modern Occultism. (for a reply, see Lodge (1909). The Attitude of Science to the Unusual. (See also WF Prince's discussion of Simon Newcomb, and Hyslop's counters to attacks on the work of Lodge in the Survival of Consciousness After Bodily Death section)

Sommer (2011). Professional Heresy: Edmund Gurney (1847–88) and the Study of Hallucinations and Hypnotism.

Gurney (1887). Tertium quid: chapters on various disputed questions, Vol. I.

Myers (1903). Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death. (Landmark psychical research text, accumulates evidence for psi that existed during the time period, and integrates this with a study of abnormal psychological phenomena, to provide a comprehensive survey of human consciousness - arguing that the normal personality is like an island on a vaster body of subliminal processes, which ultimately point to the survival of consciousness. Some material on this text appears here: (removed by others but archived here - scroll down to section "Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death")

Trevor Hamilton, in Immortal Longings: F.W.H. Myers and the Victorian Search for Life After Death (2009), p. 275, summarizes the nature of this text as follows, "Myers' approach in the book was to provide a survey of the range of humankind's faculties before culminating in a section that these faculties in their highest form demonstrated the independence of the mind, the individuality, from the brain, and its ultimate capacity, bodiless, to survive death. [...] He was particularly concerned to counter the argument of Leaf and others (Oppenhiem 1985: 260) that all he had done was to describe the His aim was not to destroy personality, but to demonstrate the " (in other words, he attempted to demonstrate an underlying unity of consciousness, a prerequisite for acceptance of a soul, which this book is an attempt to empirically validate the existence of). Alan Gauld noted, in his Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Myers, "The development of his theory of the subliminal self can be traced through numerous lengthy articles in the Proceedings of the SPR, and a more popular book, Science and a Future Life (1893), to its fullest, though still incomplete, expression in his posthumous Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death (2 vols., 1903). Myers regards each human personality as consisting of a number of distinct streams of consciousness, which he sometimes compares to geological strata. These are in some sense modifications of the same soul, and have the potential for unification. But normally they remain separate, and one, the ordinary ‘supraliminal’ stream of consciousness, has evolved to cope with the problems of everyday living. Others, however, may possess faculties, for instance telepathy, of less immediate practical relevance. Waking telepathic experiences may be regarded as leaks or messages from these ‘subliminal’ streams of consciousness, and telepathy is most likely to occur when such streams are tapped, as in dreams or hypnosis, or become to an extent detached and autonomous, as in automatic writing or secondary personality. This theory had for a while great influence within psychical research, and some outside it. Whether it could be made credible or even wholly coherent might be doubted. None the less Human Personality—despite the rhapsodical style in which some passages are written—remains an impressive attempt to systematize a vast quantity of interesting materials." - Alan Gauld, ‘Myers, Frederic William Henry (1843–1901)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2011 accessed 17 Oct 2014

Gauld would later collaborate on a defense of Myers' ideas entitled Irreducible Mind (see below)

Carlos Alvarado below, in his review of Myers, "Studying the Life and Work of Frederic W.H. Myers", cites a review crediting Myers for "having rejuvenated animism and with providing a scientific framework for its support. This entailed bringing together mysticism and an empirical approach, something that made Myers a "positivist Swedenborg."" The edition of the book cited, in its preface, states, "The fundamental soundness of Myers's work has been abundantly confirmed by a century of further empirical research on its central topics, as demonstrated in a companion volume, recently produced under the auspices of Esalen's Center for Theory and Research, entitled Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century." Myers coined the term "telepathy", and in an essay in Irreducible Mind by Emily Williams Kelley, entitled F.W.H. Myers and the Empirical Study of the Mind-Body Problem, we find an overview of his views and an argument for his relevance.

William James said of Myers that "through him for the first time, psychologists are in possession of their full material, and mental phenomena are set down in an adequate inventory." For reviews of his work by James and others see this. As for James, in his essay "The Confidences of a Psychical Researcher", he stated, "Out of my experience, such as it is (and it is limited enough) one fixed conclusion dogmatically emerges, and that is this, that we with our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest. The maple and the pine may whisper to each other with their leaves, and Conanicut and Newport hear each other’s foghorns. But the trees also commingle their roots in the darkness underground, and the islands also hang together through the ocean’s bottom. Just so there is a continuum of cosmic consciousness, against which our individuality builds but accidental fences, and into which our several minds plunge as into a mother-sea or reservoir. Our “normal” consciousness is circumscribed for adaptation to our external earthly environment, but the fence is weak in spots, and fitful influences from beyond leak in, showing the otherwise unverifiable common connection. Not only psychic research, but metaphysical philosophy, and speculative biology are led in their own ways to look with favor on some such “panpsychic” view of the universe as this. Assuming this common reservoir of consciousness to exist, this bank upon which we all draw, and in which so many of earth’s memories must in some way be stored, or mediums would not get at them as they do, the question is, What is its own structure? What is its inner topography? This question, first squarely formulated by Myers, deserves to be called “Myers’s problem” by scientific men hereafter. What are the conditions of individuation or insulation in this mother-sea? To what tracts, to what active systems functioning separately in it, do personalities correspond? Are individual “spirits” constituted there? How numerous, and of how many hierarchic orders may these then be? How permanent? How transient? And how confluent with one another may they become? What again, are the relations between the cosmic consciousness and matter? Are there subtler forms of matter which upon occasion may enter into functional connection with the individuations in the psychic sea, and then, and then only, show themselves? —So that our ordinary human experience, on its material as well as on its mental side, would appear to be only an extract from the larger psychophysical world?"

It should be noted that corroboration of the filter view of consciousness comes from the following article on a man acquiring previously non-existent artistic talents after a stroke:

Also, here is a New Scientist story about a man with an almost non-existent brain, who nevertheless had a normal life:

Some corroboration for Myers' view on genius is provided by Schwartz (2011), below: "Johannes Brahms described his own moments of creative breakthroughs this way: In this exalted state I see clearly what is obscure in my ordinary moods; then I feel capable of drawing inspiration from above as Beethoven did…. Those vibrations assume the form of distinct mental images…. Straightaway the ideas flow in upon me…and not only do I see distinct themes in the mind’s eye, but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies, and orchestration. Measure by measure the finished product is revealed to me when I am in those rare inspired moods (as cited in Abell, 1964, pp. 19-21). Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Aaron Copland also seem to have had similar experiences (in Abell, 1964). In Mozart’s case the connection was so clear and strong the pages of his compositions show few alterations; they appear to be finished transcriptions. Remote viewers say of their experiences: “I kind of space out,” or “It’s sort of like focusing my mind at some middle distance” (Schwartz, 2007, p. 34). They describe the moment itself by saying, “It came in a flash,” or, “It was like a hologram…. Images are all there... as if it were a hologram hanging in my mind” (Schwartz, 2007, p. 34). Poincare’ described his work on a mathematical problem in the same vein: “One day, as I was crossing the street, the solution of the difficulty which had brought me to a standstill came to me all at once” (Goldenberg et al., 2009, p. 3)."

Frank Podmore, in The Newer Spiritualism, p. 28-29, criticizes this book's acceptance of phantasms of the dead (apparitions) and higher mesmeric phenomena. On the subject of phantasms of the dead, Podmore's concerns had been previously dealt with by Myers in his Defense of Phantasms of the Dead. On the subject of higher mesmeric phenomena, Podmore's views have been superseded by the 4 volume set Abnormal Hypnotic Phenomena. As regards Major Buckley's experiments, Dingwall, in Abnormal Hypnotic Phenomena IV, overviews the case, criticizing it for lack of proper reporting, stating (p . 108), "this effect appears to show clear paranormal ability, but as we cannot be surethat any of the relevant details are accurate and that others have not been omitted,we must leave it as it is." - he maintains high skepticism, but overviews hypotheses of fraud and discusses the factors contributing to their implausibility. Podmore's attack on the X+Y=Z case relies on speculation and omission of the examples of clairvoyance (not just telepathy, search "Bentley" for this), and Podmore is maintaining contradictions, because he admits to the validity of the "Remote Viewing" feats of Alexis and Adolphe Didier on p. 153, while attributing Didier's results he is suspicious of, those with Houdin, not to fraud, but to automatism and hyperesthesia, and the former are stronger validations of Myers' thesis than the items Podmore attempts to shoot down.

Regarding Myers' work, the eminent scholar and psycho-folklorist Andrew Lang recommended the work as giving insight into the basis of animism from super-normal experiences, and he wrote: "To myself, after reading the evidence, it appears that a fairly strong presumption is raised in favor of a 'phantasmogentic agency' set at work, in a vague unconscious way, by the deceased, and I say this after considering the adverse arguments of Mr. Podmore, for example, in favor of telepathy from living minds, and all the hypotheses of hoaxing, exaggerative memory, mal-observation, and so forth — not to mention the popular nonsense about 'What is the use of it?' Why is it permitted?' What is the use of argon? Why are cockroaches permitted?

To end with a confession of opinion: I entirely agree with Mr. Myers and Hegel, that we, or many of us, are in something, or that something is in us, which does not know the bonds of time, or feel the manacles of space."

Critics, once you begin to discuss Myers, will say - "his views were not accepted by the Scientific community." But how valid was his reception among critics? In this area, we need to proceed with caution, because Andrew Lang, for instance, in his article "The Nineteenth Century" and Mr. Frederic Myers, noted some misrepresentation of the work by critics (though Lang did not wholeheartedly endorse all of Myers' ideas, he rejected, for instance, Myers idea of "possession" (see here), on that, see some of Gauld's commentary).

Jenny Hazelgrove. (2000). Spiritualism and British Society Between the Wars. Manchester University Press. pp. 194-195, merely states the following, which does not really help us to understand the objection to Myers' work, and seems to provide a distorted view (see Irreducible Mind, pp. 61-62). Hazelgrove writes: "Psychical research attracted those members of the intelligentsia who were dissatisfied with the limitations imposed upon scientific knowledge by dominant materialist explanations of the cosmos and of mind. Simultaneously, most researchers looked to the 'scientific method' as a means of transcending these perceived limitations. This paradigmatic cleavage had been present since the founding of the SPR by a group of Cambridge scholars in 1882. In its trend towards integration, or 'participating consciousness', psychical research responded to what Myers and his followers perceived as a living, vital universe imbued with Divine consciousness. For Myers, the individual was linked to transcendent realities through the hidden life of the 'subliminal self'. Here the consciousness of everyday life was but one layer in multiple layers of consciousness - a fraction of a larger whole. To the surface layer Myers accorded 'no primacy'; it was the hidden life in its union with the Divine - a union that had expressed itself through time in outpourings of genius and in the religious instinct - that he considered of momentous importance for humankind. Myers strove until his death in 1901 to make the reality of subjective experience objectively comprehensible to himself and to a largely hostile scientific community [emphasis added - this is the only such statement, it does not illuminate the problem]. But it was in intuitive religious experience and personal intimacies - in, for instance, the warmth of his relationship with Josephine Butler and her evangelical Christianity, or his ecstatic love affair with his cousin, Annie Marshall - that Myers was really sure that there was something in existence that was 'striving upwards into life divine'[see discussion of Alan Gauld's refutation of the claim of sexual affairs between Myers and Marshall below, in commentary to a review of Trevor Hamilton's book on him]."

After this, in that text, there is a discussion of other scientists and philosophers on the convergence of science and mysticism, and then ether theories and Spiritualism, beginning with the phrase "Scientists of the nineteenth century did not always view this sense of mystical involvement with the cosmos as inimical to science[...]." But it does not give us the specific reasons Myers was rejected, except for allusion to the dominant materialistic trends. Janet Oppenheim. (1985). The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England, 1850-1914. Cambridge University Press. pp. 254-262, is a bit better in helping to clarify the opposition. She wrote, on pp. 262: "It is hardly surprising that contemporary psychologists were not, for the most part, impressed with Myers' fully elaborated theory of the subliminal self. They dismissed the role Myers wanted psychology to play in the modern world. and disliked the assurance with which he claimed the authority of science for his personal beliefs. There were, ofcourse, a few psychologists, like James and Flournoy, who shared Myers' close involvement in psychical research and were deeply sympathetic to his aims, but not even all Myers colleagues at the SPR accepted his hypotheses. Andrew Lang, for one, rejected outright Myers's [sic] theory of possession [use of the term "outright" creates a slight exaggeration in tone against a subject she dislikes], while Gerald Balfour, in his 1906 address to the SPR, had to confess "in all humility" that he had "never yet succeeded in forming a clear idea" of what Myers intended by the subliminal self. The most crushing review of Human Personality, because the best informed, the most clearly argued, and the least ill-tempered, came from G.F. Stout, professor of logic and metaphysics at St. Andrews, and not a member of the SPR. In the Hibbert Journal for October 1903, Stout explained how Myers's theory of the subliminal self diverged sharply from earlier doctrines of subconscious or unconscious mental states, and how the common understanding of the "subliminal factor" in mental life did not necessitate a secondary personality or alternative self.[Stout was engaging in misrepresentation, see below] Stout could only regard "the hypothetical agency called the 'Subliminal Self' as an addition to his ignorance rather than to his knowledge." As a hypothesis, it was "baseless, futile, and incoherent.""

... and then she went on to discuss a mixed review by William McDougall, though previously, n earlier pages, she had cited positive reviews by Flournoy and James. She concluded her overview of the psychological aspect of SPR work as follows (p. 266): "Decades of further research into the workings of the brain have suggested alternatives to the stark choice between determinism and free will, which psychologists thought they faced at the turn of the century. In the 1980s, it appears that even the most elaborate mechanistic model may not be able to impose rigidly predictable patterns and order on the random activities of the brain's individual neurons. In the still fierce debate among philosophers, physicists, neuroscientists, and computer specialists, it is just possible that indeterministic physics may yet leave some slight area of choice, intent, and purpose among the complex machinery and chemical codes of the brain. The possibility may prove illusory, but it is more than Gurney and Myers had to work with. given the limits of their knowledge and the intellectual conventions in which they worked, the members of the SPR who tried to contribute to psychology before 1914 deserve credit for the way they conducted their inquiries. Their goals were enormous, for they sought to resolve the mind-body puzzle by finding a via media between Cartesian dualism and a monism that threatened to eliminate mind entirely. It comes as no surprise that they failed, nor that only a small group of professional psychologists valued their attempt. But to those particular psychologists, the work of the SPR mattered tremendously."

But such a perspective derives from her bias disguised as scholarship, which manifests in many ways - e.g. - in the book, she cites (p. 375) CEM Hansel's criticism of Piper, when she knows that Alan Gauld demonstrated it to be based on fraudulent sources - Braude offers other criticism here. While her book can certainly be compared favorably to Ruth Brandon's The Spiritualists, the book Irreducible Mind is a direct repudiation of her perspective, arguing that Myers and the SPR had established a robust body of evidence and that advances in the 20th century only further developed and refined their initial efforts.

McDougall's review was in many ways positive and is given here, his main objection though was: "The main difficulty is not in any way touched by the hypothesis. It is this: Our sensations are caused by changes in the brain-matter, and there are irresistibly strong reasons for believing that similar material changes, or transformations of physical energy in the brain, are essential conditions of all our states of consciousness; and there is equally good reason to believe that memory is conditioned, in part at least, by changes produced in the disposition of the matter, or in the state of the matter, of parts of the brain. How then can the procession of states of consciousness continue and the store of memory-images persist undisturbed when the matter of which the brain was composed has been scattered to the four winds of heaven? Myers admits these facts, yet he has not realised the difficulty presented by them for survival (as is proved by his statement that there is no great step from telepathy to possession, i., p. 250) and his hypothesis of the “subliminal self” does not attempt to deal with it. These considerations forbid me to agree with the estimate of the conception of the “subliminal self” expressed by Prof. James and Sir Oliver Lodge, and I confess that if any man should tell me that this hypothesis is no great conception and effects no profounder synthesis but is an elaborate and gratuitous mystification, a monstrous confusion of things that are by nature disparate and distinct, the creation of a mind too passionately centred upon the establishment of one great thesis, I should be at a loss to answer him."

As regards McDougall's views, see Irreducible Mind, p. 580, see also chapter 4 of Irreducible Mind, on Memory, by Alan Gauld. As regards Stout's views, put forth in a review given here, Kelley notes Stout's caricatures and misrepresentations of what Myers was actually saying in his review on pp. 578-579 of Irreducible Mind.

I strongly suggest reading the highlighted excerpt from Irreducible Mind, because they undermine the objections that have been presented. Andreas Sommer's article on Hugo Munsterberg and his upcoming article on G. Stanley Hall also demonstrates the skulduggery that leading psychologists engaged in to "demarcate" psychical research from "respectable" psychology.

The rest of Irreducible Mind is recommended, perhaps more than Myers' text, as a modern exposition and development of the theory).

Mason (1903). Life After Death: First Article and Life After Death: Second Article (positive review of the work of F.W.H. Myers in the New York Times)

Grosso (2010). Reflections on Frederic Myers' Romantic Psychology

Sommer (2011). Review of "Immortal Longings: F.W.H. Myers and the Victorian Search for Life after Death" by Trevor Hamilton (positive review of book that, among other things, counters Trevor Hall's allegations concerning Myers, and other attacks against Myers)

Alvarado (2012). Studying the Life and Work of Frederic W.H. Myers.

(various) (1920-1922). Psyche

Carrington (1921). The problems of psychical research; experiments and theories in the realm of the supernormal.

(Various) (1927). The Case for and Against Psychical Belief

Richet (1923). Thirty Years of Psychical Research. (vindication of Richet against his critics appears in documentation in bibliographies of relevant articles of the [ SPR encyclopedia], and for vindication of Geley see here)

Sommer (2012). Policing Epistemic Deviance: Albert von Schrenck-Notzing and Albert Moll. (critics like to attack Schrenck-Notzing as allegedly being duped by Ladislas Lasslo, but this issue is dealt with in an article by Schrenck-Notzing in Psychische Studien, Feb. 1924, p. 97: "3. Trotz der an sich guten Kontrollmaßregeln mehrten sich fürmich in den vier Sitzungen die Verdachtsmomente derart, daß ich nach meiner Rückkehr von Budapest im Herbst 1923 an den Versuchsleitcr Herrn Tordai einen am 2. Januar 1924 in dem Pester Lloyd abgedruckten Brief schrieb, in welchem ich dringend vor einer Veröffentlichung dieser Versuche warnte, dieselben vom objektiv wissenschaftlichen Standpunkte für gänzlich unzureichend erklärte und eine Wegnahme der Materialisationsprodukte, d. h. eine Entlarvung des Mediums empfahl, wie sie tatsächlich am 27. Dezember 1923 erfolgt ist. Von einer Täuschung meiner Person kann also keine Rede sein, wie der vorliegende Brief zeigt, wenn auch das Medium selbst von meinem Verdacht nichts gemerkt hat."

S-N apparently delivered a lecture on Karl Krauss in 1927 at the third International Congress for Psychical Research held in Sorbonne University in Paris (see James Houran, ed. From Shaman to Scientist: Essays on Humanity's Search for Spirits. Scarecrow Press, 2004. p. 140 [1], also of relevance appears to be La Revue Métapsychique, Janvier-Février 1929 [2]

The following item controverts the viewpoint that S-N was "duped" by Kraus:

Also, here are some helpful citations:

The item on Rhine that people like to use as a means of stating he is credulous is the "Lady Wonder" horse incident, however, the Richmond-Times Dispatch states (Lady Sparked Wonders About Her Intelligence by Larry Hall, Times-Dispatch Librarian/Researcher, 7/16/2003), "Rhine later altered his assessment slightly, saying he sometimes had detected subtle signals from Claudia Fonda that the horse may have responded to, although he never explained how the horse was able to give correct responses to things Fonda could not have known. ":

For some remarkable incidents with Lady Wonder, see Is Your Pet Psychic?: Developing Psychic Communication with Your Pet by Richard Webster (Llewellyn Worldwide, Jul 8, 2012): [3]

These are excerpts from Rhine's article which provide a more innocuous understanding. In the article itself, he notes that "Fortunately the culprits have thus far been caught (at least in the "known"cases) before serious damage has been done. Then, too, as time has passed our progress has aided us in avoiding the admission of such risky personnel even for a short term. As a result, the last twenty years have seen little of this cruder type of chicanery. Best of all, we have reached a stage at which we can actually look for and to a degree choose the people we want in the field. Finally, as will be seen in a few more pages, we have been able to do quite a lot to insure that it is impossible for dishonesty to be implemented inside the well-organized psi laboratory today. So after one further step into the background of the deception problem, I will be ready for the search for solutions." Example 1: "Was this really cheating? Perhaps a sufficient answer can be found in the fact that it was done surreptitiously. I do not need to say (or wish to imply) that they actually were biased by this leaked information in their final analyses, but at least the results were not approved for publication and the individuals were not encouraged to continue work at the center." Example 2: "What was wrong here? Everyone urged going on to see what emerged with further patient variation, everyone but E-l himself; he left, and fortunately the experimental results had not been published so that no one was misled by this particular instance. " However we do have this, where things are more ambiguous: Example 3: "In the editing of a report of this experiment special analyses were made of the data that showed an interesting hit distribution on the record sheets; this in turn suggested a further investigation of the actual test conditions, and this revealed a rather simple trick. A few spaces on E-l's hand copy of the subject's calls were left blank (as though by accident) until the actual checkup when they could be filled in as hits by E-l himself. The use of duplicate sets of records to be exchanged by E-l and E-2 at the checkup time had been omitted, evidently by E-l's intention. Completely mutual vigilance in the joint checking procedure was also obviated. With a well-trained and more watchful E-2 on the job, this cheating could not have occurred." Rhine was very diligent in dealing with the fraud of Levy - for a positive overview of his actions in this area, see this. [cite William J. Broad, Nicholas J. Wade. "Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science" (Simon and Schuster, 1983), for the overall soundness of experiments during the Rhine era]

Some interesting overview of criticism is in Price (1939). The Story of ESP, a chapter of Fifty Years of Psychical Research, which is extremely informative. As Whately Carington noted however, in a review of it, a truly relevant text on this subject is Pratt et al (1940/1966). Extra-sensory perception after sixty years., where responses to criticism are given. There is the misperception fostered by Milbourne Christopher that once Rhine took precautions in response to criticisms of his methods, he was unable to find any high-scoring subjects, and there is the misperception fostered by James Alcock that due to methodological problems, parapsychologists no longer utilize card-guessing studies. This will be dealt with as follows:

Palmer & Rao, in the seminal 1987 Brain & Mind Sciences Bulletin article "The Anomaly Called Psi: Recent Research and Criticism" (given below) noted: "The first line of criticism dealt with the experimental conditions. One essential requirement for an acceptable ESP experiment was that data should be collected under conditions that provide no reasonable opportunity for sensory leakage of information or inferential knowledge of the targets. Skinner (1937), Wolfle (1938), and J. L. Kennedy (1938), among others, pointed out that under certain lighting conditions the commercially produced ESP cards could be read through their reverse sides. Rhine responded that the original experiments were conducted with hand-printed ESP cards that were free from such defects and that in his more formal experiments the use of screens and distance prevented the subjects from obtaining any visual cues from the cards. Kennedy (1938), Kellogg (1936), and Leuba (1938) argued that an increase in the experimental rigor of ESP research had resulted in a corresponding decline in ESP results, suggesting that extrachance ESP scores were due to loose experimental conditions. To this Rhine responded that his most rigorously controlled experiment, the Pearce-Pratt series, did give highly significant results (Rhine et al. 1940). Although this experiment was later challenged by critic C. E. M. Hansel (1966) - with questionable success (Hansel 1980; Rhine & Pratt 1961; Stevenson 1967) - as being susceptible to fraud on the part of the subject, it was still more rigorously controlled than the other experiments in the original data base and thus supported Rhine's point. The second line of criticism related to data analysis. Willoughby (1935), Kellogg (1936), Heinlein and Heinlein (1938), Herr (1938), and Lemmon (1939) criticized various features of the statistical analysis used by Rhine and his colleagues. In particular, the criticism focused on Rhine's assumption that the binomial theorem is applicable to "closed decks," decks in which the number of times each type of card appears is not free to vary. This aspect of the methodological debate essentially ceased in 1937, when Burton Camp, President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, stated that Rhine's "statistical analysis is essentially valid. If the Rhine investigation is to be fairly attacked it must be on other than mathematical grounds" (Camp 1937). For further details, see Burdick and Kelly (1977). It would be wrong to conclude from this, however, that Rhine's experiments were perfect and that they had conclusively eliminated every alternative explanation. In retrospect, one could suggest improvements in the experimental conditions of his experiments. But for his time, Rhine's best experiments were ahead of others in the behavioral sciences. The experimental precautions he took, including two-experimenter controls and doubleblind procedures, were rare in other disciplines at that time. Nonetheless, much of the early criticism of Rhine's experiments was helpful in progressively raising the standards of ESP research and reducing the possibility of experimental errors and artifacts."

They continued on p. 602: "In fact, in the present debate there is some agreement about the fundamental difficulty of defining what would be considered an acceptable level of replication and about the fact that no one experiment alone can suffice. There is further agreement that psi experiments are replicable in the general or "weak sense" of the basic findings being confirmed by others, but not in the "strong sense" of being able to tell the critic how he himself should go about getting positive results. Naturally, for Alcock such weak replication as exists can merely reflect replication of errors. In this sense, the theme of such exchanges between critics and proponents of parapsychology is not new; it is only the players who have changed. In the late 1930s, J. L. Kennedy (1939) debated with Gardner Murphy (1938) the possibility of sensory cues and motivational errors as explanations for psi. The American Psychological Association's Review Committee (1939) actually repudiated this as a viable explanation, and it is now generally accepted even among critics that fraud is the only "normal" alternative explanation for the early findings of Rhine et al. (1940) and Pratt, and Woodruff (1939)."

See also Dean Radin's The Noetic Universe (Corgi Books, 2009), p. 99 and 110 for information on high-security ESP card tests involving sealed envelopes, opaque screens, distance separation, and time displacement exceeding the chance hit rate of 20%.

for follow-up overview, see Rhine & Pratt (1957/1962). Parapsychology: Frontier Science of The Mind.)

On Soal, see this pro-parapsychology edit:

Comments on possible vindication of Soal are provided here:

  • Hansel vs Rhine, Pratt, & Woodruff (1961). Controversy over charges of fraud in ESP (dispute between CEM Hansel and Rhine, Pratt, & Woodruff over the Pearce-Pratt & Pratt-Woodruff experiments) (see, regarding Hansel's follow up work, Honorton (1967). ESP: A Scientific Evaluation, C.E.M. Hansel, Review. (there is an interesting statement on p. 80 of this document - when discussing Hansel's critique of the Pearce-Pratt experiment, Honorton notes: "It is puzzling that Hansel was unable to obtain the plans in view of the fact that Pratt was able, at a later time, to procure them without difficulty or delay. It also seems strange, at least to this reviewer, that Hansel would publish a plan which, in his own estimation (i.e. "not to scale"), was not accurate. Certainly he would agree that it is necessary for the critic to be as judicious in appraising research findings as the investigator must be in carrying out these experiments. It is unfortunate, therefore, that he published his "not to scale" plan; for while it would allow for the possibility of subject-fraud in line with his hypothesis, the correct scale plans, obtained from Duke by Pratt, do not. The crucial door (Room 311) was displaced so far away from the window in Pratt's room, that there can be no doubt as to the inadequacy of Hansel's hypothesis, to say nothing of the accuracy of his plan.")
Dr. D. J. West in his fine review of C. E. M. Hansel's ESP and Parapsychology: A Critical Re-Evaluation (1980) (Journal No. 787) seems to accept too readily the implications of Professor Hansel's alleged discovery of discrepancies in the reporting of the Pearce—Pratt experiment in various places. Since the Pearce-Pratt experiment is one of the highly evidential studies we have in parapsychology and since Hansel is apparently successful in creating the impression—even among such unbiased scientists as Dr. West—that there was something seriously wrong with it, I wish briefly to examine Hansel's arguments and his credibility as a responsible critic. The points made against the Pearce—Pratt experiment are: ( 1 ) that it was not reported in adequate detail at the time it was carried out; (2) that there were discrepancies in its different published versions; and (3) that the experimental conditions were such that the subject, Pearce, could have cheated in a number of possible ways.
Let us consider the fraud issue first. Neither Hansel, or anyone else for that matter, presented any evidence or circumstances that suggest even remotely that Pearce did cheat. The best Hansel (1980) was able to produce was his concluding statement in the book, Ά further unsatisfactory feature lies in the fact that a statement has not been made by the central figure, Hubert Pearce. The experimenters state that trickery was impossible, but what would Pearce have said? Perhaps one day he will give us his own account of the experiment' (p. 123). This statement does not tally with the facts. Contrary to Hansel's remarks, Pearce did make a statement in which he unequivocally asserted that he did not cheat (Stevenson, 1967). Pearce is now dead, and therefore will not be able to make another statement more to the liking of Hansel, unless Hansel believes in the ability of the deceased to make statements!
The hypothesis of fraud to explain away the results of such experiments as the Pearce-Pratt series is essentially sterile and non-falsifiable. As I pointed out elsewhere (Rao, 1981), the argument that it is more parsimonious to assume fraud rather than the existence of 'impossible' phenomena such as ESP is as logically false as it is historically untrue.
Much was made of the fact that the original report of the Pearce-Pratt experiments did not give all the details of procedure and experimental conditions that we now consider necessary. West and some other parapsychologists appear to be ready to blame Rhine for this failure. Stevenson (1967), for example, writes, 'Rhine had already published informal reports [of the Pearce—Pratt experiment] in two of his popular books and it is doubtful procedure in science to announce one's results first to the general public and then (in this case many years later) present a detailed report for scientists' (p. 259). I believe these accusations are unfair.
It is not the case that Rhine announced his results first to the public. The results of the Pearce—Pratt experiment were first published in The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (Rhine, 1936) and were only subsequently mentioned in his popular books. (The first of these, New Frontiers of the Mind, appeared in 1938.) The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology is a respected journal in mainstream psychology and Rhine had no editorial control over it. Does this not clearly imply that the additional details that we now consider necessary were not considered so then by the psychologists who refereed his paper and the editors who published it? The Journal of Parapsychology was in existence then and if Rhine published his report in it with inadequate details, we might have had some reason to blame him for not giving them all. The truth is that details of the sort that we now require of parapsychological reports were simply not found necessary then. When it became increasingly clear that further details of the experimental procedure were called for, Rhine and Pratt published a detailed report in 1954.
Now, the more serious of the criticisms relates to the discrepancies between various published accounts of the experiment. Several of these are trivial and none is sufficient to call into question the veracity of the experiment or the credibility of the experimenters. Interestingly, Hansel makes more errors in his very brief review of the experiment than do the authors. Here are some examples.
He writes, 'The scores published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology disagree with those in the Journal of Parapsychology. They give total hits for the four subseries as: A, 179; B, 288; C, 86; D, 56. The individual scores quoted are also in a different order for subseries Β and C from those given in the Journal of Parapsychology' (1980, 120—121). Here Hansel gives the total scores as reported in one journal and not in the other. Therefore, the reader does not really know the magnitude of the discrepancies. More significantly, neither report actually gives the total number of hits in each of the four subseries as Hansel implies. These totals, it appears, are computed by Hansel from the footnote on page 222 of The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (1936). He found they differed from those obtained by adding up individual scores as given in the Journal of Parapsychology (1954) report. I did the same and came up with different figures. Hansel gives the total hits for subseries A as 179. Actually, the total score that one would obtain by adding up individual scores given in footnotes in both reports or by computing from the average and deviation scores given in the main body of the reports is 119. So Hansel in his computation makes an error much larger than anything that he finds in the reports he criticizes. Again, as far as this score is concerned, there is no discrepancy between the two reports.
As for subseries B, the individual scores as given in the footnotes add up to 288 and 295 in the 1936 and 1954 reports, respectively. Recall that totals are not given in the reports, but can be computed by us from the footnotes as well as from the results presented in the main body of the reports. In the table on page 222 of The Abnormal and Social Psychology report, we find that for subseries B there are 1100 trials and the average score for 25 trials is 6.7. From this, it is clear that even in this report the total number of hits for subseries Β is 295, the same as that given in the Journal of parapsychology report. So there is no discrepancy here.
It would appear that a few of the individual scores as given in the footnote for the 1936 article were misprinted and that one score was inadvertently left out. The footnote gives only 43 scores when there should have been 44.
Hansel leaves the impression that Rhine and Pratt were unmindful of the errors in the first report. This was not so. A footnote in the Journal of Parapsychology article (Rhine and Pratt, 1954) reads: 'In the two reports ... in which the run scores of the series were published, the scores of subseries Β and C were not given consecutively, and there were two other minor errors. It seems worthwhile, therefore, to list the complete run scores in chronological order here' (p. 171). Here is the explanation of the discrepancy in the sequence of the scores as given in the 1936 and 1954 reports. Surely Hansel cannot be unaware of this: he gets the individual scores from this footnote only.
While it is regrettable that there were errors in the first report, though inconsequential in themselves, I wonder how many of us can honestly say that we make no such errors. As I have pointed out, Hansel himself commits a few. To give a few more, reference 8 on page 119 which has to do with Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years refers on page 123 to (The) Reach of the Mind (incidentally, The was omitted); reference 9 to The Reach of the Mind on page 119 is listed in the notes on page 123 as New World of the Mind. On page 121 Hansel mentions Frontiers of the Mind by J. B. Rhine. He obviously means New Frontiers of the Mind.
In evaluating Hansel's critique, we should bear in mind that the records of the Pearce-Pratt experiment are still in existence, and that they were examined in the past by others and re-checked by Stuart, Greenwood and Murphy. Again, Hansel himself was at Duke with Rhine and Pratt and they would have easily clarified these matters, if Hansel had raided them then. Hansel (1961) did not refer to these discrepancies in his first critique of this experiment published in the Journal of Parapsychology.
In summary, then, Hansel's criticism of the Pearce-Pratt experiment is not entirely reliable. But the fact that his words have been taken seriously by such persons as Dr. West makes me wonder whether there is some truth in the saying that if someone shouts long and loud enough he will be heard without regard to what he says."
See also Medhurst (1968). The Fraudulent Experimenter: Professor Hansel's Case Against Psychical Research. (This review notes several misrepresentations with regards to psychical research, and also establishes that Hansel took a shotgun approach, so occasionally he got some things right, but his critique of Samuel Soal was invalid, and other, unrelated discoveries led to an actual case against him (see also Child's 1980 review below) - Medhurst also notes Hansel's misrepresentation of the Ownbey-Turner experiment.)
see also Forwald (1969). Excerptum Concerning Forwald's objections to the claims of CEM Hansel.
as well as Child (1980). Review of ESP and Parapsychology A Critical Reevaluation.)

Project Alpha was a hoax in which psychical researchers were allegedly duped by conjurors - Relevant overview is on p. 89 of Marcello Truzzi's critique of Project Alpha 'Reflections on Project Alpha....', which begins on p. 73 of the skeptical text "Zetetic Scholar", Nos. 12/13: - "Not all psi researchers were put on the defensive by Alpha. Dennis Stillings, director of a Minneapolis groupcalled the Archaeus Project, which puts out a newsletter by that name, was outraged and initiated a retaliatory hoax which started as a small joke but escalated into something more significant. Stillings felt that Randi was trying to reap advantage from lies told to the psi researchers and was, in effect, blaming the victims. Stillings believed that any person could be deceived by lies and that Randi was just as susceptible to such human error as anyone. So, Stillings (1983a) issued a phony,one page, special issue of his group's newsletter (of which only two copies were mailed out and these to Edwards and Shaw with the expectation that they would show it to Randi). The ersatz issue contained a short, two paragraph, fraudulent announcement that the Archaeus Project had just been given "a fund of $217, seed money for a program in PK research and education" It said the funds were for "grant money to PK investigators, especially those interested in 'metal bending"' and for "developing a program of educating children in the range and nature of parapsychological phenomena." Finally, it said that "Those applying for grants, as well as those gifted with paranormal abilities" should write to Stillings. Stillings also separately wrote a letter to Shaw telling him that since shaw was a fraud, he should not apply for any of the money.To stretch the joke even further, Stillings also published a warning "Advisory Notice (Krueger, 1983)--to parallel Randi's similar advisory notes--in a previous real issue of his group's newsletter. Though Stillings' original prank struck me as being a bit silly (after all, Randi never claimed to be immune to trickery, and conjurors fool one another all the time), what happened next went far beyond Stillings' expectations and turned the matter into a significant episode. upon seeing the phony announcement, and apparently without properly checking things out, Randi decided to give one of his annual psi-mocking "Uri Awards" to this receipt of a phony grant. Thus, on April 1, 1983, Randi's Discover news release gave a "Uri" in the funding category: "To the Medtronics Corporation of Minneapolis, who gave $250,000 to a Mr.Stillings of that city to fund the Archaeus Project, devoted to observing people who bend spoons at parties. Mr.Stillings then offered financial assistance to a prominent young spoon-bender who turned out to be one of the masquerading magicians of Project Alpha--a confessed fake." In this incredible award statement, Randi managed to falsely identify a major corporation as the funding source (when no source was ever mentioned in the original announcement), escalated the award from $217,000 to $250,000, misdescribed the purpose of the phony award, and falsely claimed one of his associates had been offered funds! Stillings and other foes of Randi, particularly Walter Uphoff, had a field day with Randi's big blunder. With headlines in psi publications like "'Non-Magician Fools Conjuror" (New Frontiers Center Newsletter) and "Researcher Fools Randi Into Making Fictional Award" (Psychic News), the "Amazing" Randi was portrayed as merely "Amusing." Randi, however, was apparently not amused. He has thus far not publicly acknowledged his mistake, although he did write an apology to Medtronics and admitted his mistake in private correspondence (including a letter sent to Stillings which Stillings managed to get Randi to write him by posing as a third party). In fact, when his Uri Award list was reproduced in The Skeptical Inquirer, Randi's award to Medtronics was simply omitted without comment. Although Stillings had only intended his prank to demonstrate that Randi, too, could be fooled, it actually ended up displaying the fact that Randi is capable of gross distortion of facts and in this case, at least, shot from the hip (and here managed to hit his own foot). This naturally might lead some to question Randi's reporting accuracy in the past and should caution us to look more carefully at the past cries of "foul" that opponents have hurled at him." The claim that project alpha "discredited" testers relies on omission of relevant facts, see "Science Versus Showmanship: A History of the Randi Hoax":

  • Alexander (1980). [ The New Mental Battlefield].

Then see Hyman & Honorton (1986). A Joint Communiqué: The Psi Ganzfeld Controversy, Palmer (1986). Comments on "The Joint Communiqué", Stanford (1986). Commentary on the Hyman-Honorton Joint Communiqué, Utts (1986). The Ganzfeld Debate: A Statistician's Perspective.

The 1986 Joint Communque between Honorton and Hyman stated "We agree that there is an overall significant effect in this data base that cannot reasonably be explained by selective reporting or multiple analysis. We continue to differ over the degree to which the effect constitutes evidence for psi, but we agree that the final verdict awaits the outcome of future experiments conducted by a broader range of investigators and according to more stringent standards."

In Bem & Honorton (1994). Does psi exist?, the authors noted, regarding the Ganzfeld debate between Hyman and Honorton, etc, "none of the contributors to the subsequent debate concurred with Hyman’s conclusion, whereas four nonparapsychologists—two statisticans and two psychologists—explicitly concurred with Honorton’s conclusion (Harris & Rosenthal, 1988b; Saunders, 1985; Utts, 1991a). For example, Harris and Rosenthal (one of the pioneers in the use of meta-analysis in psychology) used Hyman’s own flaw ratings and failed to find any significant relationships between flaws and study outcomes in each of two separate analyses: “Our analysis of the effects of flaws on study outcome lends no support to the hypothesis that Ganzfeld research results are a significant function of the set of flaw variables” (1988b, p. 3; for a more recent exchange regarding Hyman’s analysis, see Hyman, 1991; Utts, 1991a, 1991b). [...] In 1988, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences released a widely publicized report commissioned by the U.S. Army that assessed several controversial technologies for enhancing human performance, including accelerated learning, neurolinguistic programming, mental practice, biofeedback, and parapsychology (Druckman & Swets, 1988; summarized in Swets & Bjork, 1990). The report’s conclusion concerning parapsychology was quite negative: “The Committee finds no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena” (Druckman & Swets, 1988, p. 22).

An extended refutation strongly protesting the committee’s treatment of parapsychology has been published elsewhere (Palmer et al., 1989). The pertinent point here is simply that the NRC’s evaluation of the ganzfeld studies does not reflect an additional, independent examination of the ganzfeld database but is based on the same meta-analysis conducted by Hyman that we have discussed in this article.

Hyman chaired the NRC’s Subcommittee on Parapsychology, and, although he had concurred with Honorton 2 years earlier in their joint communiqué that “there is an overall significant effect in this data base that cannot reasonably be explained by selective reporting or multiple analysis” (p. 351) and that “significant outcomes have been produced by a number of different investigators” (p. 352), neither of these points is acknowledged in the committee’s report.

The NRC also solicited a background report from Harris and Rosenthal (1988a), which provided the committee with a comparative methodological analysis of the five controversial areas just listed. Harris and Rosenthal noted that, of these areas, “only the Ganzfeld ESP studies [the only psi studies they evaluated] regularly meet the basic requirements of sound experimental design” (p. 53), and they concluded that it would be implausible to entertain the null given the combined p from these 28 studies. Given the various problems or flaws pointed out by Hyman and Honorton...we might estimate the obtained accuracy rate to be about 1/3...when the accuracy rate expected under the null is 1/4.(p.51)"

Of relevance is Blackmore vs. Sargent (1987). Dispute over Carl Sargent's Ganzfeld Experiments.

Blackmore claims, citing no source: - "I would not refer to this depressing incident again but for one fact. The Cambridge data are all there in the Bem and Honorton review but unacknowledged. Out of twenty-eight studies included, nine came from the Cambridge lab, more than any other single laboratory, and they had the second highest effect size after Honorton's own studies. Bem and Honorton do point out that one of the laboratories contributed nine of the studies but they do not say which one. Not a word of doubt is expressed, no references to my investigation are given, and no casual reader could guess there was such controversy over a third of the studies in the database."

In response to this, Daryl Bem wrote to me (Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 9:23 PM), "Chuck (Honorton) and I were well aware of Blackmore’s accusations of cheating by Sargent, and we discussed at length how to treat the issue without taking sides on the accusation itself, so we chose to display an analysis of the studies when those by Sargent and those by Honorton were excluded. This way readers aware of Blackmore’s charges could would be satisfied that the database still held up, and readers unaware of her charges would see it as our simply being conservative by excluding the two labs with the largest data pools, including the author’s own studies."

Blackmore seems to be referring to earlier work by Honorton, since Bem & Honorton (1994). Does psi exist? dealt with autoganzfeld studies, of which there were 11 (see Honorton et al (1990). Psi Communication in the Ganzfeld: Experiments With an Automated Testing System and A Comparison With A Meta-Analysis of Earlier Studies - for the original meta-analysis of these studies). The 28 studies are mentioned as earlier Ganzfeld studies, and are addressed in Palmer, Utts', and Honorton's reply to the National Research Council as Honorton, C. (1985). Meta-analysis of the psi ganzfeld research: A response to Hyman. Journal of Parapsychology, 49, 51-91. Palmer, Utts, and Honorton note on p. 48 of their reply that "the disposition of the Sargent studies affects neither the effect size nor the statistical significance of the Ganzfeld database.":

It should be noted that Daryl Bem started out as a skeptic - on this, see footnote 96 on p. 72 of Zingrone (2006). From Text to Self: The Interplay of Criticism and Response in the History of Parapsychology.)

Rao & Palmer (1987). The anomaly called psi: Recent research and criticism. (discusses controversies over Helmut Schmidt's micro-PK experiments, and opens up a debate with others as to the validity of parapsychology as a field)

Hyman & Alcock (1988). Enhancing Human Performance: Issues, Theories and Techniques: Part VI: Parapsychological Techniques (see also Harris & Rosenthal (1988). Human Performance Research: An Overview: Human Performance Technologies and Expectancy Effects: Parapsychology, Harris & Rosenthal (1988). Postscript to Human Performance Research: An Overview, Palmer, Honorton, & Utts (1988). Reply to the National Research Council Study on Parapsychology. (also here:, this also contains a rebuttal of Hyman's comments on the postscript of the Harris & Rosenthal document), and Alexander (1989). Enhancing human Performance: A Challenge to the Report.)

Office of Technology Assessment (1989). Report of a Workshop on Experimental Parapsychology (also here:

Utts (1991). Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology. (This is a very important text, as it completely refutes the antagonists' view that "Many studies seeking to detect, understand, and utilize telepathy have been done, but no replicable results from well-controlled experiments exist."

See also Bayarri & Berger (1991). Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology: Comment, Dawson (1991). Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology: Comment, Diaconis (1991). Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology: Comment, Greenhouse (1991). Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology: Comment, Hyman (1991). Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology: Comment, Morris (1991). Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology: Comment, and Utts (1991). Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology: Rejoinder)

Utts (1995). An Assessment of the Evidence for Psychic Functioning. (see also Hyman (1995). Evaluation of a Program on Anomalous Mental Phenomena, and Utts (1996). Response to Ray Hyman's Report)

May (1996). The American Institutes for Research Review of the Department of Defense's STAR GATE Program: A Commentary (see below for detailed information on this))

Targ (1996). Remote Viewing at Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s: A Memoir

Mishlove (1997). Extrasensory Perception (ESP)

Mishlove (1997). Psychokinesis (discusses controversies with PEAR RNG-PK experiments, etc)

Radin & Rebman (1997). Seeking Psi in the Casino.

Josephson (1999). Unfounded criticism of a parapsychology book in Nature.

Alcock (2003). Give the null hypothesis a chance.

Parker & Brusewitz (2003). A compendium of the evidence for psi. (this paper commits a glib error in claiming that Wiseman defended the Bill Delmore tests against George Hansen when he merely rejected one of Hansen's hypotheses, otherwise it is useful. Wiseman's article is here, and though he does not specifically state that Hansen's other criticisms are valid in the paper, neither does he reject them, so Parker errs in extending refutation of one item to refutation of all items. Appraisal of the Delmore case requires first reading Hansen's criticism of it, and then the counter-arguments of proponents (1,2,3,4), and not stopping with the Wiseman article which only rebuts one criticism and doesn't comment on the others, and pretending that it is a defense. Wiseman is not in any way a psi proponent, he has made concessions (1), however, even though he has been rebutted in various exchanges with others, he could never be described as having made explicitly positive claims. In his book The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science (2011), (p. 325), Will Storr after interviewing Wiseman noted that "Wiseman's career as a celebrity Skeptic is predicated on there being no such thing as paranormal phenomena. He admits to never having had 'any interest in investigating if it's true because I've always thought it isn't.'").

Stokes (2006). Consciousness and the Physical World

Zingrone (2006). From Text to Self: The Interplay of Criticism and Response in the History of Parapsychology.

Jahn & Dunne (2008). Change the Rules!

Watt (2004). Reporting of Blind Methods: An Interdisciplinary Survey. (Parapsychology is found to have drastically higher use of Blind Methods than the physical sciences, confirming the results of a previous survey).

French (2008). Is Parapsychology a Pseudoscience?

Smith (2009). Is Physicalism "Really" True? (overviews remote viewing controversies, among other things (DMILS, etc.),contains the statement, on p. 212: "When the first edition of Marks’ and Kamman’s Psychology of the Psychic was published in 1980, there may have been some reason to question the original remote viewing research and replications, since there was still only a relatively small number of 212 trials (certainly not yet even 200) available in only a few publicly accessible studies. However, by the time Marks published the second edition of the book in 2000 (some years after Kamman’s death), there was much less justification – and justification has grown even less in the intervening years since that time.").

Wiseman (2010). ‘Heads I Win, Tails You Lose’: How Parapsychologists Nullify Null Results.

Carter (2010). "Heads I lose, tails you win", or, how Richard Wiseman Nullifies Positive Results, and what to do about it.

(various) (2010). Debating Psychic Experience

Crabtree (2012). Parapsychology. (article on the subject in the Encyclopedia of the History of Psychological Theories, 2012)

Derakhshani (2011). An alternative take on ESP.

Pigliucci (2012). On Parapsychology. (Pigliucci here presents himself as a balanced observer on this issue, however, here he reveals a priori debunking obligations)

Davidson (2011). Review of The Logical Leap by David Harriman (a critique of a Randian objectivist text. This is of tangential relevance to the topic of discussion, because Randian objectivism implies steadfast adherence to the perspective of materialist monism, and adherent of that perspective would reject data such as is presented here no matter how compelling. There is an attraction in Rand's militant rejection of irrationalism, because in this day and age, with postmodernist nonsense, ethical relativism, and decadence, Rand is a breath of fresh air, asserting that principles of reason, sound philosophy, and science, should be our guides. But her framework is partially based on a priori perspectives that can be challenged, and she misunderstands the perspective of those she attacks. The best introduction to this is in the article from the skeptic Michael Shermer, entitled The Unlikliest Cult in history, as well as George V. Walsh's paper Ayn Rand and the Metaphysics of Kant, which shows that the Objectivist objection to Kant is based on misunderstandings (and this also makes some interesting references to Aristotle - as an aside, the alleged basis of Objectivism in Aristotle turns out to be spurious when you realize that contrary to Libertarianism, Aristotle in his Politics derived an Organic framework for society). Acquaintance with Aristotle is important, and Will Durant provides a relevant overview, additionally, The Metalogicon of John of Salisbury is very important in helping us to acquire the gift of Aristotelian reason. But as to accurate overviews of Kant, we will need again to refer to Will Durant. Likewise, refer to Durant's overviews of German Philosophy: 1789-1815 (Fichte, Schelling & Hegel), Schopenhauer, Nietzsche (see also Abir Taha's 2013 text Nietzsche's Coming God or the Redemption of the Divine), and finally Henri Bergson, a one time President of the Society for Psychical Research, who offered a solution to Kant, though one not embracing materialist monism.

Davidson notes in his review, "In the final chapter, Harriman turns his attention to quantum theory. “As a mathematical formalism, quantum theory has been enormously successful. It makes quantitative predictions of impressive accuracy for a vast range of phenomena, providing the basis for modern chemistry, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics and optics. It also made possible some of the greatest technological innovations of the twentieth century, including computers and lasers. Yet as a fundamental theory of physics it is strangely empty… It gives a mathematical recipe for predicting the statistical behavior of particles but fails to provide causal models of subatomic processes.” (p248) According to Harriman, the necessity of supposing that a single reality exists, that the human mind has a reasonably clear access to it, and that the scientist can explain it, has been surrendered not by reference to experimental facts (“the knowledge gained by experimental discovery of facts can never lead to the denial of knowledge and fact.”) but by the influence of post-Kantian philosophy, “an enemy that operated behind the front lines and provided the corrupt framework used to misinterpret facts. By rejecting causality and accepting the unintelligibility of the atomic world, physicists have reduced themselves to mere calculating machines (at best) – and thus they are unable to ask further questions or to integrate their knowledge.” Harriman does not discuss the double-slit experiment, the EPR experiments of Alain Aspect and others, the quantum Zeno effect, quantum computation and the various other puzzling phenomena in quantum physics. Harriman himself seems to be ‘theory stealing’ here in that he is willing to accept the benefits he lists from quantum theory without subscribing to the theory itself, nor addressing the really puzzling experimental facts on which the theory is based. There is no explanation of why quantum mechanics gives such precise answers whilst it does not correspond to reality."

Many of the strangest conceptions related to quantum theory have been validated in mainstream experiments - see the ScienceNews February 27, 1998 article Quantum Theory Demonstrated: Observation Affects Reality, and the ScienceAlert June 1, 2015 article Reality doesn’t exist until we measure it, quantum experiment confirms. Henry Stapp, in "Mindful Universe" (Springer-Verlag, 2nd edition, 2011), p. 15, notes in layman's terms how the following perspective inductively derives from empirical observations related to the double-slit experiment, stating, of of the Copenhagen interpretation it evolved from, and then, of the Von Neumann interpretation itself, "In this initial version of the theory the brains and bodies of the experimenters, and also their measuring devices, are described fundamentally in empirical terms: in terms of our experiences/perceptions pertaining to these devices and their manipulations by our physical bodies. However, the boundary between our empirically described selves and the physically described system we are studying is somewhat arbitrary. The empirically described measuring devices can become very tiny, and physically described systems can become very large, [sic] This ambiguity was examined by von Neumann (1932) who showed that we can consistently describe the entire physical world, including the brains of the experimenters, as the physically described world, with the actions instigated by an experimenters stream of consciousness acting directly upon that experimenter's brain. The interaction between the psychologically and physically described aspects in quantum theory thereby becomes the mind-brain interaction of neuroscience and neuropsychology." Following this, one of the most informed apologists, Inspiring Philosophy, who has collaborated with the physics student Johanan Raatz, has produced an exhaustively documented overview of The Measurement Problem citing papers removing contradictions and leading therefore not to solipsism, but to an animistic perspective. This can be followed by an overview of The Introspective Argument, which, when combined with the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument, provides a basis for Panentheism.

Davidson's paper challenging Harriman's The Logical Leap contains this valuable excerpt: "I am skeptical about his insistence that physics must conform to some pre-ordained form (which might be construed as ‘cognitive fixation’). As Neils Bohr said in response to Einstein’s insistence that “God does not play dice with the universe,”: “Do not tell God what to do.”")

Schwartz (2011). The Antique Roadshow: How Denier Movements Debunk Evolution, Climate Change, and Nonlocal Consciousness

Dossey (2011). Why Are Scientists Afraid of Daryl Bem? (see also this article)

Dossey (2013). Unbroken Wholeness: The Emerging View of Human Interconnection

Cardeña (2014). A call for an open, informed study of all aspects of consciousness.

Baptista & Derakhshani (2014). Beyond the Coin Toss: Examining Wiseman's Criticisms of Parapsychology. (attempts to establish that Ganzfeld results are consistent)

Beauregard et al (2014). Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science.

Watt and Kennedy (2015). Lessons from the first two years of operating a study registry.

Dossey (2015). The Sandy Island Syndromes: On Seeing What Is Not There and Not Seeing What Is There.

Zahran (2017). What is Psi? From Anti-Parapsychology to Psi as a Next Scientific Revolution: Theoretical Reviews and Hypothesized Vision