Monday, 8 October 2012

A Tribute To W.G. Roll.

THE RHINE ONLINE


The Rhine Research Center’s Quarterly Newsletter

Volume 4, Issue 2, 2012
Editor: Jennifer Moore


Table of Contents (Press control + click to link to the title)

Letter from the editor

A Personal Tribute to William G. Roll by Bryan Williams

Brief Reflections on William Roll's Psi-Field Concept by Mark Schroll, Ph.D.

Bill Roll’s 2007 Speech Given at the Rhine Center

Studies in the Paranormal; Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Unknown Guest: a series of twelve Sri Lankan cases by S. N. Arseculeratne, et al.

University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Summer 2012



Letter from the editor

Dear friends,

I am proud to bring you the summer, 2012, edition of the Rhine Research Center’s quarterly newsletter. In addition to our usual slate of extraordinary speakers in the past few months (Bill Bengston, Ron Papallardo, Norm Shealy, Jim Carpenter, Donna Spring Gulick, Judy Gardiner, and Joe McMoneagle) the Rhine Research Center has also hosted two notable events: the Parapsychological Association’s 55th International Convention and, along with the Psychical Research Foundation, a commemoration of the life and work of William G. (Bill) Roll, whom Sally Rhine Feather, Ph.D., says we could call "Mr. Poltergeist" as he is “an early leader in careful field investigations and survival-related research.”

This newsletter includes two articles about Bill Roll, one from Bryan Williams of the University of New Mexico, keynote speaker at the conference, who considers Roll to be one of his most important lifetime mentors. Additionally, Mark A. Schroll, Ph.D., has written an overview of Roll’s contribution to the field of psi over the years. Additionally, I have included a speech that Roll delivered at the Rhine Center in 2007 as I think it gives you an idea of his wit and expansive knowledge about the history of parapsychology.

On another note, I am pleased to share with you a most intriguing article submitted from professors in Sri Lanka. They describe twelve fascinating cases of psi occurrence and discuss various potential causes for the anomalous events. The events are the type with which the average person typically has had some sort of experience – synchronicities, a serendipitous delay that caused someone to miss a plane that later crashed, that sort of thing. It is the type of experience that keep believers interested in psi and the type that will continue to keep skeptics from ever finding “proof” against parapsychology. I know you will enjoy reading it, and the authors’ comments are enlightening.

Finally, we are looking forward to upcoming events and speakers throughout the fall. If you are in Durham in the next few months, make a note to drop by one of our upcoming events with such notable speakers as Russell Targ, Larry Burk, Susan Reintjes, Roger Nelson, and Ryan Hurd. Press control + click here for the most recent list of upcoming events.

As always, if you are interested in writing a letter to the editor as a comment about these articles or if you would like to share a psi experience, please send it as an email to Jennifer@rhine.org. I also accept article submissions at any point.

Thank you for your support of the Rhine Research Center!

- Jennifer Moore, editor

The Rhine Research Center’s Quarterly Newsletter

2741 Campus Walk Avenue, Building 500

Durham, NC 27705 * (919)309-4600

Rhine email: Office@rhine.org * Newsletter editor email: Jennifer@rhine.org Mission Statement: The Rhine Research Center explores the frontiers of consciousness and exceptional human experiences in the context of unusual and unexplained phenomena. The Rhine’s mission is to advance the science of parapsychology, to provide education and resources for the public, and to foster a community for individuals with personal and professional interest in PSI.

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A Personal Tribute to William G. Roll

Bryan Williams

I had the privilege and pleasure of working closely with Dr. William Roll for the last eight years of his life, and this experience has always been rewarding for me because Dr. Roll had played a pivotal role in my scholarly pursuit of parapsychology by being the researcher I looked up to for inspiration as a role model ever since my interest in the field was first piqued while in junior high school. To have the opportunity to directly work with and learn from the person that one respects most in his or her chosen field of study is a student’s dream come true, and I’ll always be grateful to Dr. Roll for granting me that opportunity.

It is quite likely that many people within and outside of parapsychology will remember Dr. Roll mostly for his numerous field investigations of haunts and recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK, more popularly known as “poltergeist” phenomena), and indeed when it came to these phenomena, he certainly stood among the most dedicated and quintessential of investigators. Over time, his persistent efforts in the field seemed to shed some useful light on the nature of these phenomena.

Likely stemming from long-held beliefs deeply rooted in myth and folklore, many of the anomalous occurrences reported at the sites of alleged haunts have traditionally been attributed to the actions of a discarnate spirit (i.e., a ghost), usually that of a deceased person who once lived or worked there. A striking finding to emerge from the many haunt cases investigated by Dr. Roll (see Roll & Persinger, 2001, pp. 154 – 160, for convenient summaries) is that very few cases seem to conform to this idea. Instead, Dr. Roll found that many of the occurrences were likely to have been related to the anomalous electromagnetic and geomagnetic fields that he typically found at such sites, which may have produced the occurrences through conventional physical effects and by affecting the brain activity of witnesses (op. cit., pp. 161 – 162). This was consistent with the findings obtained by several other field investigators, who also tended to find magnetic anomalies at certain haunt sites (e.g., Braithwaite, Perez-Aquino, & Townsend, 2005; Persinger & Koren, 2001, pp. 184 – 190; Wiseman et al., 2002, 2003).

Dr. Roll noticed that when witnesses reported seeing apparitions at the sites, they didn’t often resemble the classic image of a ghost – a full-bodied, animated spectral figure of a deceased human. Instead, they often took the form of ambiguous shadows, floating lights (“orbs”), or misty, indistinct shapes. In the instances where the apparitions did take a human form, they more often seemed to reflect the preoccupations of living people rather than dead ones. For instance, in a case that Dr. Roll investigated involving an allegedly haunted Japanese restaurant (Roll, Maher, & Brown, 1992), the manager of the restaurant often saw two ghosts that were also occasionally seen by his staff. One of the ghosts seemed to be a tall, slim man with a solemn and responsible demeanor, while the other appeared to be a short, obese, and intoxicated fellow with a very carefree personality. However, neither of the ghosts seemed to resemble people who were known to be dead. Instead, when they were examined closely, the two ghosts actually seemed to reflect the manager’s own personal needs, namely his need for mentorship and occasional leisure time

Loyd Auerbach (L) and John Kruth (R) at the Roll Tribute Event

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away from his strict managerial duties. On this basis, the manager considered the possibility that the two ghosts were simply psychically projected aspects of his own personality.

These findings tend to suggest that the phenomena in many haunt cases are not attributable to lingering ghosts of the dead. But in one or two rare cases, Dr. Roll did seem to find notable exceptions. In one such case that Dr. Roll had first investigated in the late 1980s, known as the “Gordy” case (summarized in Roll & Persinger, 2001, p. 160), a young girl encountered the full-bodied, animated spectral figures of two men who were known to have lived in her neighborhood many years before her family had moved there. The girl’s descriptions of these two men had closely matched their photographs, and she was able to correctly pick them out of a random collection of photographs. Try as he might, Dr. Roll was unable to find any normal way in which the girl could have learned about these two men prior to the time that her parents had verified their identities. The Gordy case is probably among Dr. Roll’s most familiar cases, as it was profiled on the popular television show Unsolved Mysteries in the early 1990s, and more recently, was the focus of the Discovery Channel show A Haunting in Georgia.

Apart from the possibility of some aspect of personality or consciousness surviving after death, haunting cases like the “Gordy” case may suggest survival of another sort. This would be survival in the sense of a persisting memory-like “imprint” or “trace” that is localized in space, and that can later be psychically perceived or “remembered” by others who occupy that space. This is what the philosopher H. H. Price (who, incidentally, was Dr. Roll’s teacher at Oxford) had called “place memory” (Price, 1940). In surveying the parapsychological literature, Dr. Roll and I had found several experiments and field studies with results that seemed suggestive of “place memory” (Williams & Roll, 2006), which offered a preliminary basis for considering this idea.

One might argue that Dr. Roll’s greatest contribution to parapsychology was the knowledge gained from his equally extensive investigations of reported RSPK or “poltergeist” phenomena (Roll, 1972/2004; Roll & Persinger, 2001, pp. 126 – 143). Such an argument would seem a bit ironic in light of the fact that Dr. Roll initially showed no interest in these phenomena at all and might not have pursued any research on them, had it not been for Dr. J. B. Rhine. After completing his studies under Professor Price at Oxford University in 1957, Dr. Roll received an invitation from Dr. Rhine to come to Duke University and join the staff of the Parapsychology Laboratory. As Dr. Roll once recalled of this period:

While at Oxford, I had heard about objects moving without tangible aid, then known as poltergeist, but had no interest in the alleged phenomenon at all. If an Oxford college had been the scene of a poltergeist outbreak, I doubt I would have bothered to stop by. As far as I was concerned, Rhine had shown the way to an understanding of psi, and this went through the door of the laboratory. But my work at Duke was not going anywhere. To my surprise, Rhine suggested that I join Dr. J. G. Pratt, the assistant director of the lab, on a poltergeist investigation. Rhine had launched me on a journey I would not otherwise have taken. (Roll, 2007, p. 114)

Sally Rhine Feather

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The results of Dr. Roll’s investigations seemed to add further support to Sir William Barrett’s (1911) early suspicions that, rather than being due to the mischievous acts of a “noisy spirit” (as the German term poltergeist implies), the frequent object movements in these cases were often associated with a living person. This was indicated by, among other things, the tendency for object movements to occur most often when that particular person was awake and present, as well as the tendency for the number of object movements to decrease as the distance between the objects and the person increased. Noting this apparent focus of object movements around a certain person, Dr. Roll and Dr. J. Gaither Pratt suggested that the movements might represent instances of large-scale PK occurring around that person, and they thus coined the term recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis as a way to label and describe them (Pratt & Roll, 1958). Often times, the person around whom the movements were focused (known as the RSPK agent) was in a situation that seemed to bring about considerable psychological tension for him or her. Once the agent was able to address and deal with this tension in a therapeutic way, the movements often vanished along with the agent’s problems.

One might also argue that Dr. Roll was one of parapsychology’s greatest theorists, and this argument would especially seem to bear out in light of his efforts during the period that I worked with him. He was particularly concerned with the fact that, although an impressive amount of experimental and spontaneous case data had been produced in support of psi phenomena, much of the mainstream scientific community was still not taking these phenomena seriously, partly for the lack of a widely accepted theory to explain them. Akin to the way that Einstein had spent the last few years of his life in search of a unified theory of physics, Dr. Roll dedicated several of his remaining years to searching for a way to bring psi phenomena closer to mainstream science. His ultimate goal in this was not necessarily to produce a detailed and fully working “unified theory” of psi, but rather to find a way in which we might begin to understand psi in light of what we have learned within mainstream science. In this way, he hoped to show that psi phenomena were not “paranormal,” but normal. There were two mainstream fields that, in Dr. Roll’s view, might shed particular light on psi: physics (especially quantum theory) and neuroscience.

Initially, Dr. Roll (2006) realized that physics held promise for understanding psi when he noticed a certain parallel between retrocognition (psychic perception of the past) and the perception of objects that are distant in space and time. For instance, when we look up at the sun, we are actually not seeing it as it is right at that moment, but rather we are seeing it as it was about eight minutes ago, because it takes that long for the sun’s light to reach Earth. In other words, we perceive the sun as existed in the past. The same goes for the stars in the night sky, but on a much longer time frame. The example that Dr. Roll liked to use to conceptualize this was looking at the photographs that the Hubble Space Telescope had taken of stars located in deep space. It is not readily apparent to us from just looking at them, but when we look at these brilliant photographs, we are actually looking far back into the past. In fact, since it can take millions of years for the light from these faraway stars to reach us, we are probably looking at them as they existed back around the time when the dinosaurs walked the Earth! What is also important for us to realize is that by the time their light reaches us, many of these stars will have long since burned out. Yet, in some sense, the stars still exist because the light from them still exists as it travels across space and time to reach us.

Even here on Earth, we may be perceiving things not as they are, but as they were. For instance, when we witness the flash from a lightning bolt, we are not seeing it precisely when the bolt strikes, but a tiny fraction of a

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second after, when the light from it reaches our eyes. And again, even after it disappears, the lightning bolt still exists in some sense because its light flash still exists up until the time we perceive it.

In a sense, this all means that there is a persisting aspect of the past which is being perceived in the present, and is consistent with the idea in physics that objects persist across space-time. Dr. Roll (2006) realized that a similar kind of phenomenon is reflected in retrocognition. For example, when psychics hold an object in their hands while performing psychometry, they seem to gain impressions about one or more people who have previously owned that object (Roll, 2004). In certain haunting cases, such as the Gordy case, some witnesses have reported seeing ghosts of people who once lived or worked at the allegedly haunted location. Like the sun and star examples described above, retrocognition seems to involve a persisting aspect of the past being perceived in the present, and is consistent with the idea in physics that objects persist in space-time. While this doesn’t provide a complete and detailed explanation for retrocognition, it does make it seem a little less strange or “paranormal.”

Later on, Dr. Roll became intrigued by the possibility that quantum theory might offer a way to possibly understand psi, based on the parallels that several researchers had found between ESP and the phenomenon of quantum entanglement (Jahn & Dunne, 1986; Josephson & Pallikari-Viras, 1991; Radin, 2006; Tressoldi, Storm, & Radin, 2010), and between PK and the quantum observer effect (Houtkooper, 2002; Jahn & Dunne, 1986; Schmidt, 1987; Walker, 1975). He was particularly intrigued by the work of physicist and Nobel laureate Brian Josephson (2002), who has been making efforts to formulate the basis for a theory that recognizes the parallels between quantum mechanics and biological systems. Dr. Roll felt that this kind of theory might one day provide a foundation for understanding psi.

Incidentally, it is perhaps intriguing that some recent studies have found evidence to suggest that a few biological organisms (such as certain kinds of bacteria and marine algae) may make use of certain kinds of quantum mechanical processes. So far, this evidence has been taken seriously enough to merit full-length articles in mainstream science magazines such as Discover (Anderson, 2009) and Scientific American (Vedral, 2011). If further evidence is found along these lines, then perhaps a wider and more in-depth exploration of a possible “quantum biology” may eventually be warranted.

Dr. Roll was also intrigued by the theoretical possibilities offered by neuroscience, based on the brain studies that he and others had conducted with the psychic Sean Harribance (e.g., Alexander et al., 1998; Morris et al., 1972; Roll et al., 2002). These studies suggested that Harribance’s successful performance on ESP tests tends to be associated with brain wave activity in the alpha range (8 to 12 Hertz, often associated with a state of relaxed awareness), and that structural changes along the right side of Harribance’s brain may be linked in some way with his reported psychic abilities.

Having some background knowledge in neuroscience, I performed a broader survey of the literature and examined several brain-related studies of ESP that had been conducted since the early 1950s. Rather than being

John Palmer, Frank Auman, and Jerry Conser (L to R)

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“above and beyond” the workings of the brain, the results of these studies indicated that ESP does show some correlates with various kinds of brain activity. My survey, along with Dr. Roll’s examination of the work from the perspective of quantum theory, eventually culminated in a detailed treatise by the two of us, a shorter version of which was published in the recent anthology Mysterious Minds (Roll & Williams, 2010).

Dr. Roll had told me several times that his greatest hope was to eventually publish a book based on our treatise. He had just started writing the first few chapters of the book when, in October of 2010, he began suffering serious health issues which greatly compromised his mobility and his ability to speak, and which required him to receive care in a nursing home. Although he had coped well with these issues and remained content, his physical limitations no longer allowed him to work on the book. But his life-long passion for parapsychology did not falter. He did his best to grant a brief interview to one female researcher who had paid him a visit, and with the assistance of his family, he was able to lend an attentive ear to my effort to fulfill his hope of completing the book, offering as much of his personal input as he could. Unfortunately, fulfilling this hope was just not to be, as Dr. Roll passed away only a few months after I had taken up the book project again in his stead. Through it all, he remained dedicated until the very end.

The Value of a Mentor

In mid-2007, the prominent mainstream journal Nature published a feature article which looked at some of the characteristics that are thought to be a part of good scientific mentoring (Lee, Dennis, & Campbell, 2007). Judging from my various interactions with him over the past eight years, it seems clear to me that Dr. Roll possessed several of these valued characteristics. Some of them include the following:

Enthusiasm: As indicated, Dr. Roll kept his passion for parapsychology throughout his life and remained dedicated to the pursuit of understanding psi until the very end. When it comes to a challenging and often controversial field like parapsychology, this characteristic is especially admirable, as it can instill inspiration for the next generation of researchers. In the long run, this can help preserve the field and keep it going.

Support for Other Than One’s Own: One person wrote in the Nature article about his or her mentor:

M [the mentor] is just as diligent in fostering the careers of people who he thinks can advance science as he is at fostering his own students. This action is consistent with a motive that goes beyond mere ego and represents service to the advancement of science. (Lee et al., 2007, p. 792)

William G. (Bill) Roll, III, and his wife, Jennifer Hinsman

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And indeed, in addition to being very supportive and encouraging of my own efforts, Dr. Roll has also expressed encouragement and motivation to many other students and researchers within and outside the field, so the positive effects of his influence were always far-reaching.

Balancing Direction: A PhD student wrote in the Nature article about his or her mentor:

His advice was almost always given in the form of suggestions, so that we were able to digest them and form our own judgment about their worth. With hindsight I recognize this as a deliberate strategy designed to encourage independence of thought and critical thinking. As a PhD student, M [the mentor] made me feel like his collaborator. (Lee et al., 2007, p. 793)

Such a passage also seems to fit Dr. Roll rather well, when it came to our joint writing projects and his guidance as a teacher. Almost always, he expressed his ideas to me in a way that allowed me to weight their value and form my own opinion about them. Moreover, he indicated to me several times that he valued my opinion, as well. Although I always thought of myself as his student, he certainly never treated me like one. Like the PhD student with his mentor, Dr. Roll always made me feel like his collaborator. The latter also ties in with the characteristic of respect, which Dr. Roll always expressed to everyone who came in his presence.

Being Widely Read and Widely Receptive: Another person wrote about his or her mentor in the Nature article:

For a rigorous scientist of international acclaim, I found her to be very open-minded, and she encouraged my exploration of different avenues of research, even when these fell outside her direct expertise (if need be, M [the mentor] was very willing to study new areas of enquiry in order to provide appropriate intellectual support). (Lee et al., 2007, p. 794)

In much the same manner, Dr. Roll would patiently listen to the ideas and opinions expressed by others, share his thoughts in an open manner, and encourage those he found promising. He was also widely read, being well versed not only in most of the contemporary research in parapsychology, but also the early writings of the pioneers of psychical research. When he first became intrigued by the quantum approach to psi, he had very little knowledge in the separate

Bryan Williams and William Roll

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field of quantum physics, so he took it upon himself to read as much as could of its literature to be sure that he had necessary knowledge. It just goes to show that you’re never too old to learn something new.

Criticism and Writing: In a timely fashion, Dr. Roll always provided me with constructive critiques of my writing, which have had the benefit of changing it, as well as our articles, for the better. On several occasions, these critiques were touched with a bit of his dry humor. For instance, in noting that one piece of my writing was full of jargon and much too wordy, he once suggested to me: “Try to simplify your writing in the future and make it more accessible to the Sarah Palins of the world!” (personal communication, Nov. 4, 2008)

These are but a few of the characteristics that Dr. Roll revealed to me in the time I knew him, and they might be useful to those hoping to perhaps become mentors themselves in the future. I took to heart many of the lessons he had to teach me, and for his value as a teacher and mentor, I can only say that I am proud to have been one of Dr. Roll’s students. Moreover, I also considered him to be a dear friend and was honored to serve as one of his last collaborators.

And so it gives me pleasure to express my gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Roll for everything he did for me, and for many others within and outside parapsychology. Thank you so much, Dr. Roll, from the bottom of my heart.

References

Alexander, C. H., Persinger, M. A., Roll, W. G., & Webster, D. L. (1998). EEG and SPECT data of a selected subject during psi tasks: The discovery of a neurophysiological correlate. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 41st Annual Convention, 3 – 12.

Anderson, M. (2009, February). Entangled life. Discover, pp. 58 – 63.

Barrett, W. F. (1911). Poltergeists, old and new. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 15, 377 – 412.

Braithwaite, J. J., Perez-Aquino, K., & Townsend, M. (2005). In search of magnetic anomalies associated with haunt-type experiences: Pulses and patterns in dual time-synchronized measurements. Journal of Parapsychology, 68, 255 – 288.

Houtkooper, J. M. (2002). Arguing for an observational theory of paranormal phenomena. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 16, 171 – 185.

Jahn, R. G., & Dunne, B. J. (1986). On the quantum mechanics of consciousness, with application to anomalous phenomena. Foundations of Physics, 16, 721 – 772.

Josephson, B. D. (2002). ‘Beyond quantum theory: A realist psycho-biological interpretation of reality’ revisited. BioSystems, 64, 43 – 45.

Josephson, B. D., & Pallikari-Viras, F. (1991). Biological utilization of quantum nonlocality. Foundations of Physics, 21, 197 – 207.

Lee, A., Dennis, C., & Campbell, P. (2007). Nature’s guide for mentors. Nature, 447, 791 – 797.

Morris, R. L., Roll, W. G., Klein, J., & Wheeler, G. (1972). EEG patterns and ESP results in forced-choice experiments with Lalsingh Harribance. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 66, 253 – 268.

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Persinger, M. A., & Koren, S. A. (2001). Predicting the characteristics of haunt phenomena from geomagnetic factors and brain sensitivity: Evidence from field and experimental studies. In J. Houran & R. Lange (Eds.) Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 179 – 194). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Pratt, J. G., & Roll, W. G. (1958). The Seaford disturbances. Journal of Parapsychology, 22, 79 – 124.

Price, H. H. (1940). Some philosophical questions about telepathy and clairvoyance. Philosophy, 15, 363 – 385.

Radin, D. (2006). Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. New York: Paraview Pocket Books.

Roll, W. G. (1972/2004). The Poltergeist. New York: Nelson Doubleday, Inc. (Reprinted by Paraview Special Editions)

Roll, W. G. (2004). Early studies on psychometry. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 18, 711 – 720.

Roll, W. G. (2006). The Janus Face of the Mind. Paper presented at the 25th Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration, Orem, UT, June 10.

Roll, W. G. (2007). Psychological and neuropsychological aspects of RSPK. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 50th Annual Convention,114 – 130.

Roll, W. G., Maher, M. C., & Brown, B. (1992). An investigation of reported haunting occurrences in a Japanese restaurant in Georgia. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 35th Annual Convention, 151 – 168.

Roll, W. G., & Persinger, M. A. (2001). Investigations of poltergeists and haunts: A review and interpretation. In J. Houran & R. Lange (Eds.) Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 123 – 163). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Roll, W. G., Persinger, M. A., Webster, D. L., Tiller, S. G., & Cook, C. M. (2002). Neurobehavioral and neurometabolic (SPECT) correlates of paranormal information: Involvement of the right hemisphere and its sensitivity to weak complex magnetic fields. International Journal of Neuroscience, 112, 197 – 224.

Roll, W. G., & Williams, B. J. (2010). Quantum theory, neurobiology, and parapsychology. In S. Krippner & H. L. Friedman (Eds.) Mysterious Minds: The Neurobiology of Psychics, Mediums, and Other Extraordinary People (pp. 1 – 33). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-Clio.

Schmidt, H. (1987). The strange properties of psychokinesis. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1, 103 – 118.

Tressoldi, P. E., Storm, L., & Radin, D. (2010). Extrasensory perception and quantum models of cognition. NeuroQuantology, 8, Supplement 1, S81 – S87.

Vedral, V. (2011, June). Living in a quantum world. Scientific American, 304(6), 38 – 43.

Walker, E. H. (1975). Foundations of parapsychical and parapsychological phenomena. In L. Oteri (Ed.) Proceedings of an International Conference: Quantum Physics and Parapsychology (pp. 1 – 44). New York: Parapsychology Foundation, Inc.

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Williams, B. J., & Roll, W. G. (2006). Psi, place memory, & laboratory space. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 49th Annual Convention, 248 – 258.

Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Greening, E., Stevens, P., & O’Keeffe, C. (2002). An investigation into the alleged haunting of Hampton Court Palace: Psychological variables and magnetic fields. Journal of Parapsychology, 66, 387 – 408.

Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Stevens, P., Greening, E., & O’Keeffe, C. (2003). An investigation into alleged ‘hauntings.’ British Journal of Psychology, 94, 195 – 211.

Brief Reflections on William Roll's Psi-Field Concept

Mark A. Schroll, Ph.D.

The significance of William Roll's psi-field concept deserves more attention than this brief reflection offers us, yet the best way I know to honor the memory of his life is to take a moment and recollect its importance. This remembrance echoes the concerns of parapsychological researchers as diverse as Jessica Utts, Edwin C. May, and Rhea A. White, who all agree “it is not more data we need to make the case for a field theory of consciousness and/or psi fields; it is the need for a theory of psi” (Schroll, 2010b, p. 13). According to Utts, “it is recommended that future experiments focus on understanding how this phenomenon works, and how to make it as useful as possible” (Utts, cited in Schwartz, 2005, p. 8); May concurs “that evidentiary experiments are no longer needed” (May, 2010, p. 215); and White sums up the problem as well as anyone:

When it comes to the mind, science as we have known it cannot progress very far. Where every other field leaves off is where parapsychology begins . . . What is needed is not the old but the new. Not so much new technology as a new orientation. Our subject matter is ourselves and the frontier we must penetrate and explore lives within us, both as individuals and in our species consciousness and Jung's collective unconscious. (White, 1998, p. 114).

“Jung's collective unconscious is yet another conceptual means of approaching this same problem of a nonlocal field of memory and echoes the same challenge: the need for a comprehensive theory of psi and of cosmos and consciousness” (Schroll, 2010b, p. 13). In my last correspondence with Roll, he wrote that he “looked forward to reading my article 'The Physics of Psi: An Interview with Stanley Krippner” (personal correspondence, September 4, 2009). Unfortunately, by the time this article was published and I sent it to Roll, he was too ill to respond.

The Psi-Field: A Continuing Inquiry

To the best of my knowledge and brief correspondence with Roll, he was the first to apply the field hypothesis to our understanding of psi in his article “The Psi Field” (Roll, 1964, personal correspondence September 3, 2009). Prior to this, during the 1950s the physicist and philosopher David Bohm began working out a view of physics that led to a

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breakthrough in understanding the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox (EPR). Those of us who are interested, or need additional background on the EPR Paradox, see Schroll, 2010b, pp. 4-5. Additional questions I had hoped to take up with Roll included whether or not his hypothesis of the psi field had been influenced by Bohm, and if they had ever met.

To reiterate the key points of this brief recollection:

Mentioning “remote viewing” [or clairvoyance, telepathy, precognition, psychokinesis, psychic healing—the “big five as Charles T. Tart calls them--(Tart, 2009, p. 12) creates immediate cognitive dissonance in those of us that accept psi as real because skeptics immediately ask, “how does it work?” Attempts to bolster this discussion with experimental data sounds impressive at first, yet our ability to accept “limitless mind” is not an empirical problem—but a conceptual one. Data, in other words, is auxiliary to hypothesis and theory, and Russell Targ gets right to the point as to what the conceptual problem is: we live in a non-local reality [(Targ, 2004)]. Still this leaves many of us again adrift, as we seek to relate psi and non-locality. . . .

Many of us know that modern physics currently lacks a metaphor. Psi's method of drawing impressions to provide access to symbols and non-analytical unconscious processes could provide a means to envision this metaphor. Likewise for example Jung's interpretation of Wolfgang Pauli's dream of “the world clock” that led them to develop the concept of synchronicity, and transpersonal psychology helped validate Jung. Another reason for this metaphor is that psi, Jung, and transpersonal psychology will not be properly recognized and understood until psychologists stop envisioning the human condition in terms of Newtonian physics, and begin to envision a quantum-relativistic view—all of which search for something more inclusive. Mind is no longer confined to our physical bio-chemical brains and skin encapsulated egos, but is capable of being considered as a field or morphogenetic field as Rupert Sheldrake refers to it. (Schroll, 2008, 255).

Conclusion

This kind of phenomena, this kind of energy, cannot currently be accepted within the framework of Euro-American science (Kennedy, 2011; Schroll, 2010a):

It violates the concept of action-at-a-distance: How can there be a physical manifestation of “energy” beyond what is referred to as “localized” events in physics? What is the medium, the means of transmitting this kind of energy? This is the real scientific problem of accepting these kinds of phenomena. Either you have to say that the type of energy we are talking about here has no connection to the material world (i.e., supernatural), or you have to postulate some kind of energy, some means of signal transmission that is not now known (Schroll, 2011, p. 18).

Like many others, I argue against supernatural explanations because these imply some “immaterial agency or influence that goes beyond natural laws, which raises the question of how this immaterial agency is able to influence matter (interact with our brain/body/senses)” (Schroll, 2011, p.18). This brings us back to my interest in Roll's concept of the psi-field and my continuing inquiry into the philosophical legacy of Bohm.

References

Kennedy, J. E. (2011). Information in life, consciousness, quantum physics, and paranormal phenomena. The Journal of Parapsychology, 75(1), 15-41.

May, E. C. (2010). Technical challenges for the way forward. The Journal of Parapsychology, 74(2), 211-217.

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Roll, W. G. (1964). The Psi Field. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association, 1, 1957-1964, 32-65.

Schroll, M. A. (2008). Review of Russell Targ (2004) Limitless mind: A guide to remote viewing and transformation. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 40(2), 255-256.

Schroll, M. A. (2010a). Toward a new kind of science and its methods of inquiry. Anthropology of Consciousness, 21(1), 1-29.

Schroll, M. A. (2010b). The physics of psi: An interview with Stanley Krippner. Transpersonal Psychology Review, 14(1), 3-15.

Schroll, M. A. (2011). Commentary. Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal, 2(3), 17-20. Reprinted with revisions as “Reflecting on Paranthropology” in the forthcoming Paranthropology: Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal. J. Hunter (Ed.), Bristol, UK: Paranthropology, In Press, pp. 58-66.

Schwartz, S. A. (2005). Remote viewing: The modern mental martial art. 3rd edition. Minneapolis, MN: Neomoseen.

Targ, R. (2004). Limitless mind: A guide to remote viewing and transformation of consciousness. Foreword by Jean Houston. Novato, CA: New World Library.

Tart, C. T. (2009). The end of materialism: How evidence of the paranormal is bringing science and spirit together. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

White, R. A. (1998). An alternate future for parapsychology: An editorial. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 92(2), 109-115.

Bill Roll’s 2007 Speech Given at the Rhine Center

Editor’s note: Bill Roll gave this speech at the Rhine at a 2007 reunion of the Psychical Research Foundation, and it seems fitting that we include it here in this newsletter. It shows, as Sally Rhine Feather commented, “Bill’s usual flair and humor,” and also gives us a personal take on some of the history behind parapsychology. Here is the transcript:

“My sincere thanks to Sally Feather and to the folks at the Rhine Research Center for bringing the PRF together for this party and my thanks to the many PRF workers for being here today.

Historical Overview:

A Psychical Research Fund was created by Dr. J.B. Rhine in 1960 with financial backing by Mr. Charles E. Ozanne to explore the issue of survival after death... The fund continued as the Psychical Research Foundation the following year. Dr. J.G. Pratt was appointed President, Prof. H.H. Price, my teacher at Oxford, was made Vice-President, and I became Project Director.

Mr. Ozanne was convinced about survival after death but recognized that the evidence was not strong. The PRF would hopefully fill in the gap. Dr. Rhine seemed doubtful that this would happen because the evidence from mediumship and similar efforts could be explained in terms of ESP without the aid of the departed but he was open-minded, and organized a conference on the topic that included Price, Pratt, Dr. Louisa Rhine and me.

I had made my first poltergeist investigation in 1958, well before the PFR, again through Rhine’s initiative. The senior investigator was Dr. Pratt. Dr. Pratt and I came up with the term recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis or RSPK to replace poltergeist because we thought that the phenomena were due to PK by the 12-year-old son in the family.

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Other cases followed as well as hauntings, but in haunts there was also no evidence that the minds of the departed were involved. The apparitions, the strange sense of presences, the odd smells, the drops in temperature seemed to be due to anomalous magnetic fields and their effect on the brains of the occupants. It seemed that the sites were not haunted by the spirits of the dead but by energetic fields. These fields can be dangerous to the health of occupants, humans as well as their animal pets.

In 1964 Dr. Rhine retired from Duke and moved the laboratory, library and offices just outside the walls of the Duke East Campus, the erstwhile home of the Parapsychology Laboratory. At the same time I moved the PRF to my home in Durham. Then about 1969 the PRF returned to Duke now as a sponsored program at the Duke School of Electrical Engineering.

This event was due to the Dean of EE, Dr. Alexander Vesic and resulted from our close collaboration with members of the School, particularly with Dr. Bill Joines, which has continued to this day. We rented two small houses from Duke, one for our library and offices, the other for our laboratory. A little later we acquired a third house as a center for meditation and meditation research. The focus of our work was experiments, most notably with Sean Harribance and Keith Harary. Ingo Swann visited briefly out-of-body, achieving spectacular success in a test by Jerry Solfvin and Keith Harary.

We had a wonderful research team. Aside from Jerry, there was Bob Morris, Judy Klein, John Stump, and Joanne Krieger. After the PRF, Bob became Koestler Professor at the University of Edinburgh. It takes special skill to work with psychics like Sean and Keith. If it were not for Judy and John, I don’t think the work with Sean would have succeeded.

Fritz Klein was essential to this work as well. It was he who resuscitated a comatose EEG machine from Monte Ullman that he had used for his dream-telepathy work in New York. It was with the aid of this machine that we discovered that the alpha brain wave was essential for Sean’s ESP... Bill Joines played a central role in understanding RSPK energy and Steve Baumann discovered brain processes in Tina Resch that were related to her RSPK. Ann Poole and her daughter aided the work with Tina.

Linda Fleishman, my administrative assistant—or superior—made everything happen in an orderly fashion. Frank Auman, PRF Board member, supplemented the Ozanne fund together with others. Aum is the same as the Sanskrit word om and signifies the spiritual essence of the universe. Julia Hardy was editor of our journal THETA, and Tomiko Smith, a skilled psychic inspired us, and there were others. It’s a joy for me to see so many of you here.

Then Dean Vesic, our guardian angel, died and Duke discovered that the PRF was sitting on a valuable resource--parking spaces... Our three houses were bulldozed and the land paved over. But sometimes, when the moon is full, you may see three little houses rise from the macadam.

The PRF moved to an office in the Methodist Center in Chapel Hill. It was there that we investigated the RSPK of Tina Resch.

Aside from RSPK, I have been fascinated by psychometry, the ability of some psychics to inspect past lives of the living and the dead. The famed psychometrist Noreen Renier who is here today, worked at the PRF in the early days. Noreen has now written a remarkable book, A Mind for Murder, about her work for the police and the FBI. I haven’t had much success myself in getting experimental evidence for this ability, but I’ve done the next best thing by writing reviews of the major work, including Noreen’s book.

What about survival after death? It seems clears that humans persist after death together with their houses, lands, etc. in what’s called space-time. But do these strands represent the consciousness that animate the bodies of the individuals before death? That’s more doubtful. It seem t o me that that the evidence for apparitions of the departed,

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mediumistic communications and what’s known as rebirth memories can be better understood in terms of the persistence of our past in space-time.

There’s an American Indian saying, “By our tracks you shall know us,” We have left bloody tracks not only on our own soil but in places we have no business being. We must take care that our tracks are beneficial, because they will always be there.

Where should parapsychology go? I think we should go hand-in-hand with the other sciences, especially with biology and neurophysiology. I think our field can best be characterized as the study of the biology of Psi or a bio-Psi. That’s where the facts point, as far as I know, and I’m farsighted as you can see.

Sally has spoken to me about whether the University of West Georgia might be interested in setting up Website to support parapsychology and the teaching of parapsychology. Such a website should support the work of Steve Baumann, Bill Joines, William Braud, Dick Bierman who seek to align psi with the other branches of science.

Transcendental Postscript:

Last night, Steve Baumann, Bill Joines, Jane Katra, and I spent a happy evening as the guests of Jerry Conser, the current PRF president, and his wife Delli. I have difficulty remembering names, but I recall hers by simply adding Catessen after Delli, for Delli Catessen Conser. As you can see, her name is truly fitting. She is also highly intelligent; even before meeting Jerry; she had read one of my books.

The six of us spent a highly spiritual evening together. I had two gin martinis, and everyone else also had two stiff drinks, Jerry as always finishing with Coke, of course the wet kind.

Well folks, that’s the news from the Psychical Research Foundation; where all the women are psychic; all the men are good looking; and all the children and grandchildren are above average.”

The changing face of the Rhine Research Center. The East Duke building housed the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory that was home to the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM) and the Institute for Parapsychology from 1965 to 2002. The new building on Campus Walk Avenue currently houses the Rhine Research Center.

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Studies in the Paranormal; Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Unknown Guest: a series of twelve Sri Lankan cases

S. N. ARSECULERATNE

Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka,

J. S. EDIRISINGHE

Faculty of Medicine, University of Rajarata, Sri Lanka

&

D. V. J. HARISCHANDRA

Consultant Psychiatrist, Galle, Sri Lanka

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

- Hamlet, William Shakespeare

“I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain, as a fraud.” – C. G. Jung

“It is entirely possible that behind the perception of our senses, worlds are hidden of which we are unaware.”

– Albert Einstein

Abstract

Twelve cases from Sri Lanka are reported, to bear on the mediation of an Unknown Guest to use Maurice Maeterlinck’s term; other possibilities of mediation involve, precognition, clairvoyance and discarnate entities. The data presented are from first-hand reports.

Introduction

We are using the title “The Unknown Guest” from Maeterlinck (1914), Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1911, quoted in Brian Inglis’s book Natural and Supernatural: A history of the Paranormal (1992) because we cannot clearly attribute some of the incidents that we relate below, to an identifiable or familiar entity, agency or mechanism, although some terms in current parapsychology could be applied to them. There are various interpretations that could be given as to who or what this Unknown Guest could be; it could be in the realms of conventional psychology or parapsychology (the Paranormal) or an entity that is as yet not completely understood or resolved by the methods of Modern Science or psychology, nor have any theories or paradigms been formulated as their bases, unlike in modern materialistic science.

In the event that readers are not familiar with the term “parapsychology”, it refers to the study of events that relate to obscure mechanisms that involve the mind. A broader term that includes parapsychology is the “Paranormal” that contains the more popular Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP) and Clairvoyance (included in the term General Extra-Sensory Perception GESP by Dr. J. B. Rhine – [Beloff 1993] ), and Psychokinesis (PK, also termed Telekinesis), all three of which probably are mediated by the mind and hence belong to the category of parapsychology; R. H. Thouless in Britain in 1942, proposed the term ‘psi’ as a generic term to include both ESP and PK…. “The term ’psi’ is thus the least question-begging of the various terms used to denote some paranormal function” (Beloff 1993). One of the present authors has had first-hand experiences on two (clairvoyance, and psychokinesis), while these three phenomena, (clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis) are clearly validated in the parapsychological literature.

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There are some other paranormal phenomena but to mention two of them – Retrocognition, a classic example of which was the documented, retrospective but later authenticated vision of two old ladies in the 21st century, of a scene that occurred during the French Revolution in the 18th century (North 1997), and ‘discarnate entities’ (discarnate intelligences) – a term derived from Thirty years among the Dead - Carl A. Wickland (1974), Other-side of death scientifically examined and carefully described - C. W. Leadbeater (2002), and Magic and Mysticism: Studies in Bygone Beliefs - H. S. Redgrove (2004)”, authenticated and illustrated in books by John G. Fuller (1979) The airmen who would not die , and John G. Fuller (1976) The ghost of flight 401.

In Britain, The Society for Psychical Research was formed in the late 19th century and the American Society not long after. The Parapsychological Association founded by Dr J. B. Rhine of ESP fame was accepted in 1969 “as an affiliate member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science…” (Beloff 1993). Readers who are interested in the status of ‘psi’ could read Jessica Utts’ article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (1996) An assessment of the evidence for Psychic Functioning. The events described below, therefore, can be regarded as within the ambit, though at the frontiers, of psychological science, and not as what illiterate persons, both so-called scientists or lay-people would call “mumbo-jumbo”. We should add a saddening comment; with the profusion of paranormal incidents in this country (and in South Asia as far as we know), no societies for psychical research have been established; the only attempted Society in the University of Peradeniya remains still-born.

Let us then discuss what we mean by ‘Paranormal’. Normal events in Nature are those that are amenable to modern scientific, materialistic exploration; that is they can be investigated by the methods of objective modern science, with ‘inter-subjective testability’ for replicability. Modern science is the great intellectual enterprise that resulted from The Scientific Revolution that occurred during the last three or four hundred years in Western Europe, and which gave us vaccines, penicillin, space travel and alas, the atomic bomb. We do not use that word ’Normal’ in the sense that Thomas Kuhn, in his famous book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ used the terms ‘Normal Science’ and ‘Revolutionary Science’ which meant respectively the incremental, small, piecemeal advances made by successive researchers while Revolutionary Science meant what Kuhn termed radical breakthroughs and establishment of entirely new paradigms in science; for instance Newtonian mechanics which can easily deal with the behavior of billiard balls, gave way to newer Quantum mechanics which can deal with the more elusive sub-atomic particles as an example of Revolutionary Science.

We are not entirely happy with the use of the apparently simple word “objective” (in “objective modern science” written in the preceding paragraph). Although in matters of scientific inquiry in which a dispassionate mind-set and not prior conditioning, is absolutely essential to prevent bias in twisting one’s interpretation to suit one’s prior conditioning, this is an extremely difficult stance to attain because we all have been conditioned since childhood to believe, even without firm evidence, this idea or that idea, so indulging in what Romm (1977) termed “shoe-fitting”, “…misinterpreting events to fit one’s expectations” (Child 2001). It is for that reason that the famous Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti introduced one of his lectures in Colombo in the 1950s, saying that he wished his audience would listen “with an unprejudiced mind” to what he will be saying; the commoner term for this attitude is “keeping an open mind”.

There are some mechanisms or explanations other than those included as GESP to be considered as agents of these interventions recorded here and they could also fall into the contexts of psychology and parapsychology. The present authors (except DVJH) are not psychiatrists nor psychologists (we cannot judge whether that is a qualification

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or a disqualification to write this report) but ones who have had some familiarity with events (and literature) that can be categorized as belonging to the Paranormal, and our discussion is confined within the limits of our experience.

The terms “The Unknown Guest” or the more popular “apparition” or “discarnate entity (discarnate intelligence) may be illustrated by some of the following authentic stories, though other parapsychological explanations (e.g. Precognition) are possible. Some of these incidents were related at first hand to the authors by the persons who experienced them, or were experienced by one of the authors; statements at first hand are italicized. The following is a qualitative, retrospective report of twelve cases that have a paranormal bearing and not the results of a statistically-analysed, quantitive, prospective study which we believe is difficult or impossible to achieve with the sources that we report from.

Case 1. H, while at his residence in the deep south of Sri Lanka, had a dream at 4 am in which he was told to ”go to 73”. On the following day he discussed with about twenty people what 73 could have meant. On the following morning he got a telephone call from Colombo telling him to come immediately to Ward 73. Though a doctor, he did not know of a ward 73 in any hospital in Colombo, but was later told that the Accident Ward of the General Hospital, Colombo was Ward 73. His daughter had been admitted to that Ward around 12 noon on the previous day after an accident.

Comment. Precognition through his sub-conscious, dreaming mind and not his conscious mind when awake as in many reported instances of Precognition, is a possibility. Clairvoyance of a future event is another possibility. In either event, this case is in parallel with the dreams in some of the cases (2, 3, and 5) discussed by Stevenson (1960) on the disaster of the Titanic in 1912; in the latter series, some Precognitions were specific as in his Case 2, while his Cases 3 and 5 were vague although the major event, the sinking of the ship was identified.

Case 2. H (of Case 1) was travelling to a major hospital in Colombo on the west coast. His girl-friend (later his wife) had been discussing with him the personality of man and requested him to try getting for her a book The Personality of Man. Before he reached his destination, he “had a sudden urge to get off the bus”. He had no interest in that spot or reason for him to get off the bus. On the pavement where he alighted was an itinerant seller of second-hand books. H was curious to see what books the man had for sale, and found in the vendor’s pile and bought the book named by his wife.

Comments

H was not consciously aware of the availability of this book in the vendor’s pile. Precognition is a possibility since he had the book’s name in his memory. Alternatively it could appear as if some agent (The Unknown Guest) had prompted his alighting from the bus at the very spot where the vendor was. Such an event could be termed a “Significant Coincidence”, a term used by Arthur Koestler (1972) who founded the Koestler Chair for Parasychology in the University of Edinburgh, UK.

The data on Cases 1 and 2 were confirmed from a tape-recording of H’s lecture at which he related these incidents. Is the term “a Sensitive” referring to a person who is receptive to GESP, applicable to H of Cases 1 and 2, and to E of Cases 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 below?

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Case 3. M and his wife were abroad and their son in Colombo, regularly took his sister out in the mornings to teach her to drive their car. This car was a usually reliable Honda car. On the day in question, the parents, now abroad, had listened to a television news program that reported a large bomb-explosion that had occurred near their home town’s (Colombo’s) office of the General Officer Commanding (GOC), of the Sri Lankan Army. They telephoned home and were told by their son that the television story was correct and that on that particular morning at the time of their intended driving lesson, their car had failed to start; had the car started and proceeded down that road on which the GOC’s office was situated, they would certainly have been blown-up in the bomb explosion. The terrorists of the LTTE were active at this time in Sri Lanka.

Half an hour later their car started normally as before.

Comment Their car was a reliable one which failed to start on this very day and time, just prior to the bomb-attack, and it started at the next attempt, half an hour after the failed first attempt. Psychokinesis (the performance of physical acts through mental forces) with Precognition, in the disabling of the car could be possibilities, although reported instances of Psychokinesis and Precognition were mediated by real-life persons and not by unseen hands. This case had no evidence, from the prior experiences of M, of parapsychological mediation such as Telepathy, Clairvoyance, or Precognition on the part of M or his wife, or even their son and daughter. The possibility, on the other hand, of the intervention by The Unknown Guest needs to be considered. M also stated that shortly before this incident, a daughter had passed away; he wondered whether the protective intervention of disabling of their car was mediated by the “discarnate intelligence” of their dead daughter; this might be an alternative explanation apart from an Unknown Guest.

Case 4. E was driving along a road on the right of which was a hill and on the left, a slope to a deep valley below. A woman walked across the path of the car from the valley-side that had no trees or shrubs. E braked and lowering the car’s shutter told the woman: “Amme, mokakda me keruwe?” (Lady, what did you do?) The lady did not complete crossing the road and in an instant when E looked back, she was nowhere to be seen.

At his destination, home, his mother, was in poor health. E sat with her throughout the evening; she told him about her childhood and her later life. Having said she was sure that E did not know the combination to her safe, went with him to the safe, got E to write it down, and they went back to her room and she related events in her childhood which E never knew about. At about 7 that evening, she died while holding E’s hand.

Comment. Is it possible that E’s mother was on the verge of becoming a discarnate intelligence, although the discarnate intelligence of other instances where this term was used was of a person who had already died as in the case of Don Repo, the flight engineer in John G. Fuller’s The Ghost of flight 401? The alternative possibility of The Unknown Guest may be considered.

Case 5. E (of Case 3) was sleeping at night in his campus room upstairs. He heard a ‘scraping’ sound from the balcony. He thought it was a bird. Then the fingers of a pair of hands gripping the balcony half-wall came into view as if someone was trying to climb in, though no one ever entered the balcony that way before, with a stairway available. Then E saw his hair, then his forehead and next the face grinning at him; E got up and the apparition disappeared. His face was unmistakable as it was one of E’s cousins whom E had not met for about ten years.

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That evening E received a telephone call from his sister informing him of the death of that cousin due to a sudden cerebral haemorrhage.

Comment. As in Case 3 is it possible that E’s cousin was on the verge of becoming a discarnate intelligence?

The term ‘apparition’ is perhaps applicable to the “woman who crossed the road” in Case 4 and the “face” in Case 5. In some reported instances,’apparitions’ have been of deceased persons as in the case related at first hand by Major Villiers to John G. Fuller in the latter’s The airmen who would not die, where the apparition was of a pilot who had died in a plane crash: the term “discarnate intelligence” might be more relevant to Villiers’ case.

A point of difference in Case 4 was that the “woman who crossed the road”, was not the “sensitive’s” (E’s) mother who died later, while in Case 5, the apparition was that of the “sensitive’s” (E’s) cousin who died that day.

Case 6. E (of cases 4 and 5), was at the head of a bus-queue and when the bus came, “Something” told E to refuse; “…it was a compelling thought”, he said to one of the authors. He allowed the next person to go ahead into the bus; this person, a prosperous-looking business-man who boarded the bus before E looked at E from inside the bus, invited E in and said he would keep the seat beside him vacant for him. On our way in the next bus on the same long route, we stopped at a crowd of people who were looking at a bus fallen in the shallow valley below. The business-man who beckoned me in to that bus, was leaning against a tree, with a blood-splattered shirt, waiting for transport to hospital”. (words of E are italicised)

Comment E was aware, he said, that he had the “remarkable ability to tell what people would do next or at least to guess right”; he, as much as H in Cases 1 and 2, might be termed a “Sensitive”, a person who is receptive to GESP, as used in the parapsychological literature. The “something” that told him to avoid the ill-fated bus could have been The Unknown Guest of Maurice Maeterlinck (1914) or Precognition on the part of E.

Case 7. G as a young man went with his friends to a swimming pool late one evening. A life-guard was in attendance. At the deep-end of the pool, G who wasn’t a good swimmer was in difficulties and the life-guard jumped in to help him out. The life-guard’s duties normally ended at 5 pm after which he went home but on this day he decided to remain for longer and it was after 5 pm when G’s incident occurred.

Comment. The life-guard who had made the unusual decision to remain at work after 5 pm was perhaps The Unknown Guest; he could also have had Precognition, though not a specific one, of a disaster.

Case 8. E on a trip to a Sri Lankan ruined city, stayed the night over at the state’s circuit bungalow. The driver of that vehicle “had a compelling thought” to avoid parking the vehicle at a vacant place but decided to park the vehicle further on. Very soon after, a large, roofing asbestos sheet crashed vertically on the spot which the driver avoided; it could have injured or killed the driver.

Comment. As in Case 6, the mediating agency could have been either Precognition on the part of the driver, or The Unknown Guest.

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Case 9. Related to E, by the mother of a medical student (S). S was a regular customer at a café. One day during the secessionist-terrorist campaign in Sri Lanka, S at first thought of visiting the café but “something” compelled him to avoid it. A few minutes later a terrorist bomb devastated the café, killing several people.

Comment. The mediating agency could have been either Precognition as on the part of the driver in Case 8, or The Unknown Guest that compelled him to avoid that café.

Case 10. As told to one of the authors E. E’s cousin was a staff officer at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. One morning, she was preparing to go for work at the bank but “something compelled her to stay away. She telephoned her secretary to say she would not be coming as she was ‘unwell’ (feigned). A large terrorist bomb destroyed much of the bank that morning”.

Comment. As in Cases 6, 7, 8 and 9, the mediating agency could have been either Precognition, or The Unknown Guest in Case 10 that compelled her to stay away from her office on that ill-fated morning. A specific Precognition of an impending bomb was absent.

Case 11. As told to E. A relative (R) of E took up a post at the Central Bank of Case 10. A “peon”, an assistant, who had earlier worked with R pleaded with R to get him also a place at the Bank. On the day when a terrorist bomb destroyed much of the Bank, on the same occasion as in Case 10, R was out of the office but the peon-assistant was found as a charred body; he was identified by his wrist-watch.

Comment. R’s decision to leave the building temporarily could have been due to his sub-conscious Precognition of the terrorist’s bomb or the mediation of The Unknown Guest, while the ‘peon’ who died was not a GESP ‘Sensitive’ and did not receive the message about the bomb.

Case 12. A lady-passenger on an outstation bus was unsure of where she should alight. The ”Passenger” who was seated beside her told her that he worked at the Central Bank in the country’s capital Colombo, and that she should alight at the next bus-stop. After her trip, she called the Central Bank’s division where the ‘Passenger’ said he worked, to thank him but the official at the Bank who answered her call appeared reluctant to give the telephone to the “passenger’ on the bus who had helped her. After repeating her request to talk to that “Passenger” who said he worked at the Bank, the official who answered her call, finally said that the “Passenger” no longer worked at the Bank, and that he had died some months earlier.

Comment. The dead “passenger” was more probably an example of the “Unknown Guest” who was then a “discarnate intelligence” at the time of the lady’s call to the Bank.

Discussion

Cases 7, 8, 9 and 10 could illustrate what Arthur Koestler (1972) termed Significant

Coincidences. Our Cases 6 and 7 were experienced at first hand, while Cases 8, 9, and 10 were acquired at second hand. The reason for the occurrence of three (10, 11, 12) of the twelve cases in a single institution, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, is obscure. In the eleven cases on the sinking of the Titanic discussed by Stevenson (1960), some with what we regard as Significant Coincidences, the Precognitions occurred earlier, from several years in Morgan Robertson’s novel (Case 1 of Stevenson), to just before the sinking incident. In our cases as well as in Stevenson’s cases except

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perhaps in his Experience 1, the element of inference on the possible occurrence of the subsequent events, needs to be, and can be, ruled out.

The question of ESP and Dreams, as suggested by our Case 1, has been commented on by Child (2001, p.158) who stated: “The experimental evidence suggesting that dreams may actually be influenced by ESP comes almost entirely from a research program carried out at the Maimonides Medical Centre in Brooklyn, New York. Among scientists active in parapsychology, this program is widely known and greatly respected” .

Another possible correlate of the agencies involved in perhaps all these cases is what Carl G. Jung the psychoanalyst in 1952 termed “Synchronicity: An acausal connecting principle”. Beloff (1993) commented: “Then having created this new concept, Jung, who had, of course a long-standing interest in parapsychology and had corresponded with (J. B.) Rhine, proposed that ‘psi’ phenomena, too, could be regarded as instances of synchronicity”, and that, “Synchronicity or seriality could thus provide the conceptual basis for a science of meaningful coincidences”, the “significant coincidences” of Arthur Koestler (1972). Beloff added another perspective to the parapsychological terminology in stating: “… the term synchronicity is now unlikely to disappear from the parapsychological vocabulary, if only because it fulfils a need when we are confronted by those cases which cannot be easily assimilated to ‘psi’ and yet suggest something more significant than ‘mere’ coincidence”.

In conclusion, what Beloff (1993) considered the “most poignant aspect” of Pawlowski’s (1925) account of séances with Franek Kluski 1925 was Pawlowski’s comment: “I am perfectly convinced that we are on the threshold of a new science and probably of a new era. It is impossible to reject or to deny these phenomena, and it is impossible to explain them by clever trickery. I realize perfectly that it is difficult for anyone to accept them…... To accept them would mean to change entirely our attitude towards life and death, to be obliged to revise entirely our sciences and our philosophy”. Beloff’s in his critical review of Parapsychology (1993) stated: “Of one thing we can feel reasonably sure, however, parapsychology will continue to challenge our assumptions about the world, and about what can or cannot happen therein, for a long time to come”.

In Sri Lanka, a country with a cultural heritage that comfortably accommodates the acceptance of psi-phenomena, we should feel encouraged to explore the profusion of such phenomena, noting Beloff’s (1993) comment: “… the countries that have produced the best evidence for reincarnation are precisely those countries or those communities where belief in reincarnation is a strong component of culture”, and that “Parapsychologists, on the other hand, threaten the ontological foundations of conventional science”, a worthy challenge to meet.

References

Beloff, John. 1993. Parapsychology. A concise History. The Athlone Press, London.

Child, Irvin L. 2001. Psychology and Anomalous Observations: The Question of ESP in Dreams. In: Rao, K. R. 2001 (qv).

Fuller, John G. 1976. The Ghost of Flight 401. Corgi Books, Transworld Publishers, London.

Fuller John G. 1979. The airmen who would not die. Book Club Associates, London.

Inglis, Brian. 1992. Natural and Supernatural: A history of the paranormal. Prism Unity, Dorset.

Jung, Carl G. 1955. The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche. Routledge, London. (English edition) - An English version of Jung’s 1952 book Complete works of C. G. Jung: Routledge & Kegan Paul, London).

Koestler, Arthur. 1972. The Roots of Coincidence. Hutchinson, London.

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Leadbeater, C. W. 2002. Other side of death scientifically examined and carefully described. Kessinger Publishing LLC. The Citadel Press

Maeterlinck, M. K. 1914. The Unknown Guest. London.

North, Anthony. 1997. The Paranormal. A guide to the Unexplained. Blandford, London.

Pawlowski, F. W. 1925. The mediumship of Franek Kluski of Warsaw. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 19: 482 – 504.

Rao, K. Ramakrishna. 2001. Basic research in Parapsychology. 2nd ed. McFarland & Co. Inc, North Carolina, USA.

Redgrove, H. S. 2004. Magic and Mysticism: Studies in Bygone Beliefs. Kessinger Publishing LLC. The Citadel Press

Romm, E. G. 1977. When you give a closet occultist a PhD, what kind of research can you expect? The Humanist, 37(3), 12 - 15.

Stevenson, Ian. 1960. A Review and Analysis of Paranormal Experiences Connected with the Sinking of the Titanic. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 54: 153 – 171.

Utts, Jessica. 1996. An assessment of the evidence for psychic functioning. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10(1): 3 -30.

Wickland, Carl A. 1974. Thirty years among the Dead. Newcastle Publishing Co. Inc. NY.

Recommended reading

Alcock, James E. 1981. Parapsychology: Science or Magic? A Psychological Perspective.

Pergamon Press, Oxford. (Child, 2001 [qv] has critically reviewed Alcock’s views). Thank you for your support of the Rhine Research Center! For a list of upcoming events at the Rhine Research Center, press ctrl + click here.


THE RHINE ONLINE


The Rhine Research Center’s Quarterly Newsletter

Volume 4, Issue 2, 2012
Editor: Jennifer Moore

A Tribute to William G. Roll

Table of Contents (Press control + click to link to the title)

Letter from the editor

A Personal Tribute to William G. Roll by Bryan Williams

Brief Reflections on William Roll's Psi-Field Concept by Mark Schroll, Ph.D.

Bill Roll’s 2007 Speech Given at the Rhine Center

Studies in the Paranormal; Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Unknown Guest: a series of twelve Sri Lankan cases by S. N. Arseculeratne, et al.

University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Summer 2012

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Letter from the editor

Dear friends,

I am proud to bring you the summer, 2012, edition of the Rhine Research Center’s quarterly newsletter. In addition to our usual slate of extraordinary speakers in the past few months (Bill Bengston, Ron Papallardo, Norm Shealy, Jim Carpenter, Donna Spring Gulick, Judy Gardiner, and Joe McMoneagle) the Rhine Research Center has also hosted two notable events: the Parapsychological Association’s 55th International Convention and, along with the Psychical Research Foundation, a commemoration of the life and work of William G. (Bill) Roll, whom Sally Rhine Feather, Ph.D., says we could call "Mr. Poltergeist" as he is “an early leader in careful field investigations and survival-related research.”

This newsletter includes two articles about Bill Roll, one from Bryan Williams of the University of New Mexico, keynote speaker at the conference, who considers Roll to be one of his most important lifetime mentors. Additionally, Mark A. Schroll, Ph.D., has written an overview of Roll’s contribution to the field of psi over the years. Additionally, I have included a speech that Roll delivered at the Rhine Center in 2007 as I think it gives you an idea of his wit and expansive knowledge about the history of parapsychology.

On another note, I am pleased to share with you a most intriguing article submitted from professors in Sri Lanka. They describe twelve fascinating cases of psi occurrence and discuss various potential causes for the anomalous events. The events are the type with which the average person typically has had some sort of experience – synchronicities, a serendipitous delay that caused someone to miss a plane that later crashed, that sort of thing. It is the type of experience that keep believers interested in psi and the type that will continue to keep skeptics from ever finding “proof” against parapsychology. I know you will enjoy reading it, and the authors’ comments are enlightening.

Finally, we are looking forward to upcoming events and speakers throughout the fall. If you are in Durham in the next few months, make a note to drop by one of our upcoming events with such notable speakers as Russell Targ, Larry Burk, Susan Reintjes, Roger Nelson, and Ryan Hurd. Press control + click here for the most recent list of upcoming events.

As always, if you are interested in writing a letter to the editor as a comment about these articles or if you would like to share a psi experience, please send it as an email to Jennifer@rhine.org. I also accept article submissions at any point.

Thank you for your support of the Rhine Research Center!

- Jennifer Moore, editor

The Rhine Research Center’s Quarterly Newsletter

2741 Campus Walk Avenue, Building 500

Durham, NC 27705 * (919)309-4600

Rhine email: Office@rhine.org * Newsletter editor email: Jennifer@rhine.org Mission Statement: The Rhine Research Center explores the frontiers of consciousness and exceptional human experiences in the context of unusual and unexplained phenomena. The Rhine’s mission is to advance the science of parapsychology, to provide education and resources for the public, and to foster a community for individuals with personal and professional interest in PSI.

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A Personal Tribute to William G. Roll

Bryan Williams

I had the privilege and pleasure of working closely with Dr. William Roll for the last eight years of his life, and this experience has always been rewarding for me because Dr. Roll had played a pivotal role in my scholarly pursuit of parapsychology by being the researcher I looked up to for inspiration as a role model ever since my interest in the field was first piqued while in junior high school. To have the opportunity to directly work with and learn from the person that one respects most in his or her chosen field of study is a student’s dream come true, and I’ll always be grateful to Dr. Roll for granting me that opportunity.

It is quite likely that many people within and outside of parapsychology will remember Dr. Roll mostly for his numerous field investigations of haunts and recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK, more popularly known as “poltergeist” phenomena), and indeed when it came to these phenomena, he certainly stood among the most dedicated and quintessential of investigators. Over time, his persistent efforts in the field seemed to shed some useful light on the nature of these phenomena.

Likely stemming from long-held beliefs deeply rooted in myth and folklore, many of the anomalous occurrences reported at the sites of alleged haunts have traditionally been attributed to the actions of a discarnate spirit (i.e., a ghost), usually that of a deceased person who once lived or worked there. A striking finding to emerge from the many haunt cases investigated by Dr. Roll (see Roll & Persinger, 2001, pp. 154 – 160, for convenient summaries) is that very few cases seem to conform to this idea. Instead, Dr. Roll found that many of the occurrences were likely to have been related to the anomalous electromagnetic and geomagnetic fields that he typically found at such sites, which may have produced the occurrences through conventional physical effects and by affecting the brain activity of witnesses (op. cit., pp. 161 – 162). This was consistent with the findings obtained by several other field investigators, who also tended to find magnetic anomalies at certain haunt sites (e.g., Braithwaite, Perez-Aquino, & Townsend, 2005; Persinger & Koren, 2001, pp. 184 – 190; Wiseman et al., 2002, 2003).

Dr. Roll noticed that when witnesses reported seeing apparitions at the sites, they didn’t often resemble the classic image of a ghost – a full-bodied, animated spectral figure of a deceased human. Instead, they often took the form of ambiguous shadows, floating lights (“orbs”), or misty, indistinct shapes. In the instances where the apparitions did take a human form, they more often seemed to reflect the preoccupations of living people rather than dead ones. For instance, in a case that Dr. Roll investigated involving an allegedly haunted Japanese restaurant (Roll, Maher, & Brown, 1992), the manager of the restaurant often saw two ghosts that were also occasionally seen by his staff. One of the ghosts seemed to be a tall, slim man with a solemn and responsible demeanor, while the other appeared to be a short, obese, and intoxicated fellow with a very carefree personality. However, neither of the ghosts seemed to resemble people who were known to be dead. Instead, when they were examined closely, the two ghosts actually seemed to reflect the manager’s own personal needs, namely his need for mentorship and occasional leisure time

Loyd Auerbach (L) and John Kruth (R) at the Roll Tribute Event

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away from his strict managerial duties. On this basis, the manager considered the possibility that the two ghosts were simply psychically projected aspects of his own personality.

These findings tend to suggest that the phenomena in many haunt cases are not attributable to lingering ghosts of the dead. But in one or two rare cases, Dr. Roll did seem to find notable exceptions. In one such case that Dr. Roll had first investigated in the late 1980s, known as the “Gordy” case (summarized in Roll & Persinger, 2001, p. 160), a young girl encountered the full-bodied, animated spectral figures of two men who were known to have lived in her neighborhood many years before her family had moved there. The girl’s descriptions of these two men had closely matched their photographs, and she was able to correctly pick them out of a random collection of photographs. Try as he might, Dr. Roll was unable to find any normal way in which the girl could have learned about these two men prior to the time that her parents had verified their identities. The Gordy case is probably among Dr. Roll’s most familiar cases, as it was profiled on the popular television show Unsolved Mysteries in the early 1990s, and more recently, was the focus of the Discovery Channel show A Haunting in Georgia.

Apart from the possibility of some aspect of personality or consciousness surviving after death, haunting cases like the “Gordy” case may suggest survival of another sort. This would be survival in the sense of a persisting memory-like “imprint” or “trace” that is localized in space, and that can later be psychically perceived or “remembered” by others who occupy that space. This is what the philosopher H. H. Price (who, incidentally, was Dr. Roll’s teacher at Oxford) had called “place memory” (Price, 1940). In surveying the parapsychological literature, Dr. Roll and I had found several experiments and field studies with results that seemed suggestive of “place memory” (Williams & Roll, 2006), which offered a preliminary basis for considering this idea.

One might argue that Dr. Roll’s greatest contribution to parapsychology was the knowledge gained from his equally extensive investigations of reported RSPK or “poltergeist” phenomena (Roll, 1972/2004; Roll & Persinger, 2001, pp. 126 – 143). Such an argument would seem a bit ironic in light of the fact that Dr. Roll initially showed no interest in these phenomena at all and might not have pursued any research on them, had it not been for Dr. J. B. Rhine. After completing his studies under Professor Price at Oxford University in 1957, Dr. Roll received an invitation from Dr. Rhine to come to Duke University and join the staff of the Parapsychology Laboratory. As Dr. Roll once recalled of this period:

While at Oxford, I had heard about objects moving without tangible aid, then known as poltergeist, but had no interest in the alleged phenomenon at all. If an Oxford college had been the scene of a poltergeist outbreak, I doubt I would have bothered to stop by. As far as I was concerned, Rhine had shown the way to an understanding of psi, and this went through the door of the laboratory. But my work at Duke was not going anywhere. To my surprise, Rhine suggested that I join Dr. J. G. Pratt, the assistant director of the lab, on a poltergeist investigation. Rhine had launched me on a journey I would not otherwise have taken. (Roll, 2007, p. 114)

Sally Rhine Feather

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The results of Dr. Roll’s investigations seemed to add further support to Sir William Barrett’s (1911) early suspicions that, rather than being due to the mischievous acts of a “noisy spirit” (as the German term poltergeist implies), the frequent object movements in these cases were often associated with a living person. This was indicated by, among other things, the tendency for object movements to occur most often when that particular person was awake and present, as well as the tendency for the number of object movements to decrease as the distance between the objects and the person increased. Noting this apparent focus of object movements around a certain person, Dr. Roll and Dr. J. Gaither Pratt suggested that the movements might represent instances of large-scale PK occurring around that person, and they thus coined the term recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis as a way to label and describe them (Pratt & Roll, 1958). Often times, the person around whom the movements were focused (known as the RSPK agent) was in a situation that seemed to bring about considerable psychological tension for him or her. Once the agent was able to address and deal with this tension in a therapeutic way, the movements often vanished along with the agent’s problems.

One might also argue that Dr. Roll was one of parapsychology’s greatest theorists, and this argument would especially seem to bear out in light of his efforts during the period that I worked with him. He was particularly concerned with the fact that, although an impressive amount of experimental and spontaneous case data had been produced in support of psi phenomena, much of the mainstream scientific community was still not taking these phenomena seriously, partly for the lack of a widely accepted theory to explain them. Akin to the way that Einstein had spent the last few years of his life in search of a unified theory of physics, Dr. Roll dedicated several of his remaining years to searching for a way to bring psi phenomena closer to mainstream science. His ultimate goal in this was not necessarily to produce a detailed and fully working “unified theory” of psi, but rather to find a way in which we might begin to understand psi in light of what we have learned within mainstream science. In this way, he hoped to show that psi phenomena were not “paranormal,” but normal. There were two mainstream fields that, in Dr. Roll’s view, might shed particular light on psi: physics (especially quantum theory) and neuroscience.

Initially, Dr. Roll (2006) realized that physics held promise for understanding psi when he noticed a certain parallel between retrocognition (psychic perception of the past) and the perception of objects that are distant in space and time. For instance, when we look up at the sun, we are actually not seeing it as it is right at that moment, but rather we are seeing it as it was about eight minutes ago, because it takes that long for the sun’s light to reach Earth. In other words, we perceive the sun as existed in the past. The same goes for the stars in the night sky, but on a much longer time frame. The example that Dr. Roll liked to use to conceptualize this was looking at the photographs that the Hubble Space Telescope had taken of stars located in deep space. It is not readily apparent to us from just looking at them, but when we look at these brilliant photographs, we are actually looking far back into the past. In fact, since it can take millions of years for the light from these faraway stars to reach us, we are probably looking at them as they existed back around the time when the dinosaurs walked the Earth! What is also important for us to realize is that by the time their light reaches us, many of these stars will have long since burned out. Yet, in some sense, the stars still exist because the light from them still exists as it travels across space and time to reach us.

Even here on Earth, we may be perceiving things not as they are, but as they were. For instance, when we witness the flash from a lightning bolt, we are not seeing it precisely when the bolt strikes, but a tiny fraction of a

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second after, when the light from it reaches our eyes. And again, even after it disappears, the lightning bolt still exists in some sense because its light flash still exists up until the time we perceive it.

In a sense, this all means that there is a persisting aspect of the past which is being perceived in the present, and is consistent with the idea in physics that objects persist across space-time. Dr. Roll (2006) realized that a similar kind of phenomenon is reflected in retrocognition. For example, when psychics hold an object in their hands while performing psychometry, they seem to gain impressions about one or more people who have previously owned that object (Roll, 2004). In certain haunting cases, such as the Gordy case, some witnesses have reported seeing ghosts of people who once lived or worked at the allegedly haunted location. Like the sun and star examples described above, retrocognition seems to involve a persisting aspect of the past being perceived in the present, and is consistent with the idea in physics that objects persist in space-time. While this doesn’t provide a complete and detailed explanation for retrocognition, it does make it seem a little less strange or “paranormal.”

Later on, Dr. Roll became intrigued by the possibility that quantum theory might offer a way to possibly understand psi, based on the parallels that several researchers had found between ESP and the phenomenon of quantum entanglement (Jahn & Dunne, 1986; Josephson & Pallikari-Viras, 1991; Radin, 2006; Tressoldi, Storm, & Radin, 2010), and between PK and the quantum observer effect (Houtkooper, 2002; Jahn & Dunne, 1986; Schmidt, 1987; Walker, 1975). He was particularly intrigued by the work of physicist and Nobel laureate Brian Josephson (2002), who has been making efforts to formulate the basis for a theory that recognizes the parallels between quantum mechanics and biological systems. Dr. Roll felt that this kind of theory might one day provide a foundation for understanding psi.

Incidentally, it is perhaps intriguing that some recent studies have found evidence to suggest that a few biological organisms (such as certain kinds of bacteria and marine algae) may make use of certain kinds of quantum mechanical processes. So far, this evidence has been taken seriously enough to merit full-length articles in mainstream science magazines such as Discover (Anderson, 2009) and Scientific American (Vedral, 2011). If further evidence is found along these lines, then perhaps a wider and more in-depth exploration of a possible “quantum biology” may eventually be warranted.

Dr. Roll was also intrigued by the theoretical possibilities offered by neuroscience, based on the brain studies that he and others had conducted with the psychic Sean Harribance (e.g., Alexander et al., 1998; Morris et al., 1972; Roll et al., 2002). These studies suggested that Harribance’s successful performance on ESP tests tends to be associated with brain wave activity in the alpha range (8 to 12 Hertz, often associated with a state of relaxed awareness), and that structural changes along the right side of Harribance’s brain may be linked in some way with his reported psychic abilities.

Having some background knowledge in neuroscience, I performed a broader survey of the literature and examined several brain-related studies of ESP that had been conducted since the early 1950s. Rather than being

John Palmer, Frank Auman, and Jerry Conser (L to R)

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“above and beyond” the workings of the brain, the results of these studies indicated that ESP does show some correlates with various kinds of brain activity. My survey, along with Dr. Roll’s examination of the work from the perspective of quantum theory, eventually culminated in a detailed treatise by the two of us, a shorter version of which was published in the recent anthology Mysterious Minds (Roll & Williams, 2010).

Dr. Roll had told me several times that his greatest hope was to eventually publish a book based on our treatise. He had just started writing the first few chapters of the book when, in October of 2010, he began suffering serious health issues which greatly compromised his mobility and his ability to speak, and which required him to receive care in a nursing home. Although he had coped well with these issues and remained content, his physical limitations no longer allowed him to work on the book. But his life-long passion for parapsychology did not falter. He did his best to grant a brief interview to one female researcher who had paid him a visit, and with the assistance of his family, he was able to lend an attentive ear to my effort to fulfill his hope of completing the book, offering as much of his personal input as he could. Unfortunately, fulfilling this hope was just not to be, as Dr. Roll passed away only a few months after I had taken up the book project again in his stead. Through it all, he remained dedicated until the very end.

The Value of a Mentor

In mid-2007, the prominent mainstream journal Nature published a feature article which looked at some of the characteristics that are thought to be a part of good scientific mentoring (Lee, Dennis, & Campbell, 2007). Judging from my various interactions with him over the past eight years, it seems clear to me that Dr. Roll possessed several of these valued characteristics. Some of them include the following:

Enthusiasm: As indicated, Dr. Roll kept his passion for parapsychology throughout his life and remained dedicated to the pursuit of understanding psi until the very end. When it comes to a challenging and often controversial field like parapsychology, this characteristic is especially admirable, as it can instill inspiration for the next generation of researchers. In the long run, this can help preserve the field and keep it going.

Support for Other Than One’s Own: One person wrote in the Nature article about his or her mentor:

M [the mentor] is just as diligent in fostering the careers of people who he thinks can advance science as he is at fostering his own students. This action is consistent with a motive that goes beyond mere ego and represents service to the advancement of science. (Lee et al., 2007, p. 792)

William G. (Bill) Roll, III, and his wife, Jennifer Hinsman

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And indeed, in addition to being very supportive and encouraging of my own efforts, Dr. Roll has also expressed encouragement and motivation to many other students and researchers within and outside the field, so the positive effects of his influence were always far-reaching.

Balancing Direction: A PhD student wrote in the Nature article about his or her mentor:

His advice was almost always given in the form of suggestions, so that we were able to digest them and form our own judgment about their worth. With hindsight I recognize this as a deliberate strategy designed to encourage independence of thought and critical thinking. As a PhD student, M [the mentor] made me feel like his collaborator. (Lee et al., 2007, p. 793)

Such a passage also seems to fit Dr. Roll rather well, when it came to our joint writing projects and his guidance as a teacher. Almost always, he expressed his ideas to me in a way that allowed me to weight their value and form my own opinion about them. Moreover, he indicated to me several times that he valued my opinion, as well. Although I always thought of myself as his student, he certainly never treated me like one. Like the PhD student with his mentor, Dr. Roll always made me feel like his collaborator. The latter also ties in with the characteristic of respect, which Dr. Roll always expressed to everyone who came in his presence.

Being Widely Read and Widely Receptive: Another person wrote about his or her mentor in the Nature article:

For a rigorous scientist of international acclaim, I found her to be very open-minded, and she encouraged my exploration of different avenues of research, even when these fell outside her direct expertise (if need be, M [the mentor] was very willing to study new areas of enquiry in order to provide appropriate intellectual support). (Lee et al., 2007, p. 794)

In much the same manner, Dr. Roll would patiently listen to the ideas and opinions expressed by others, share his thoughts in an open manner, and encourage those he found promising. He was also widely read, being well versed not only in most of the contemporary research in parapsychology, but also the early writings of the pioneers of psychical research. When he first became intrigued by the quantum approach to psi, he had very little knowledge in the separate

Bryan Williams and William Roll

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field of quantum physics, so he took it upon himself to read as much as could of its literature to be sure that he had necessary knowledge. It just goes to show that you’re never too old to learn something new.

Criticism and Writing: In a timely fashion, Dr. Roll always provided me with constructive critiques of my writing, which have had the benefit of changing it, as well as our articles, for the better. On several occasions, these critiques were touched with a bit of his dry humor. For instance, in noting that one piece of my writing was full of jargon and much too wordy, he once suggested to me: “Try to simplify your writing in the future and make it more accessible to the Sarah Palins of the world!” (personal communication, Nov. 4, 2008)

These are but a few of the characteristics that Dr. Roll revealed to me in the time I knew him, and they might be useful to those hoping to perhaps become mentors themselves in the future. I took to heart many of the lessons he had to teach me, and for his value as a teacher and mentor, I can only say that I am proud to have been one of Dr. Roll’s students. Moreover, I also considered him to be a dear friend and was honored to serve as one of his last collaborators.

And so it gives me pleasure to express my gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Roll for everything he did for me, and for many others within and outside parapsychology. Thank you so much, Dr. Roll, from the bottom of my heart.

References

Alexander, C. H., Persinger, M. A., Roll, W. G., & Webster, D. L. (1998). EEG and SPECT data of a selected subject during psi tasks: The discovery of a neurophysiological correlate. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 41st Annual Convention, 3 – 12.

Anderson, M. (2009, February). Entangled life. Discover, pp. 58 – 63.

Barrett, W. F. (1911). Poltergeists, old and new. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 15, 377 – 412.

Braithwaite, J. J., Perez-Aquino, K., & Townsend, M. (2005). In search of magnetic anomalies associated with haunt-type experiences: Pulses and patterns in dual time-synchronized measurements. Journal of Parapsychology, 68, 255 – 288.

Houtkooper, J. M. (2002). Arguing for an observational theory of paranormal phenomena. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 16, 171 – 185.

Jahn, R. G., & Dunne, B. J. (1986). On the quantum mechanics of consciousness, with application to anomalous phenomena. Foundations of Physics, 16, 721 – 772.

Josephson, B. D. (2002). ‘Beyond quantum theory: A realist psycho-biological interpretation of reality’ revisited. BioSystems, 64, 43 – 45.

Josephson, B. D., & Pallikari-Viras, F. (1991). Biological utilization of quantum nonlocality. Foundations of Physics, 21, 197 – 207.

Lee, A., Dennis, C., & Campbell, P. (2007). Nature’s guide for mentors. Nature, 447, 791 – 797.

Morris, R. L., Roll, W. G., Klein, J., & Wheeler, G. (1972). EEG patterns and ESP results in forced-choice experiments with Lalsingh Harribance. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 66, 253 – 268.

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Persinger, M. A., & Koren, S. A. (2001). Predicting the characteristics of haunt phenomena from geomagnetic factors and brain sensitivity: Evidence from field and experimental studies. In J. Houran & R. Lange (Eds.) Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 179 – 194). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Pratt, J. G., & Roll, W. G. (1958). The Seaford disturbances. Journal of Parapsychology, 22, 79 – 124.

Price, H. H. (1940). Some philosophical questions about telepathy and clairvoyance. Philosophy, 15, 363 – 385.

Radin, D. (2006). Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. New York: Paraview Pocket Books.

Roll, W. G. (1972/2004). The Poltergeist. New York: Nelson Doubleday, Inc. (Reprinted by Paraview Special Editions)

Roll, W. G. (2004). Early studies on psychometry. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 18, 711 – 720.

Roll, W. G. (2006). The Janus Face of the Mind. Paper presented at the 25th Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration, Orem, UT, June 10.

Roll, W. G. (2007). Psychological and neuropsychological aspects of RSPK. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 50th Annual Convention,114 – 130.

Roll, W. G., Maher, M. C., & Brown, B. (1992). An investigation of reported haunting occurrences in a Japanese restaurant in Georgia. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 35th Annual Convention, 151 – 168.

Roll, W. G., & Persinger, M. A. (2001). Investigations of poltergeists and haunts: A review and interpretation. In J. Houran & R. Lange (Eds.) Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 123 – 163). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Roll, W. G., Persinger, M. A., Webster, D. L., Tiller, S. G., & Cook, C. M. (2002). Neurobehavioral and neurometabolic (SPECT) correlates of paranormal information: Involvement of the right hemisphere and its sensitivity to weak complex magnetic fields. International Journal of Neuroscience, 112, 197 – 224.

Roll, W. G., & Williams, B. J. (2010). Quantum theory, neurobiology, and parapsychology. In S. Krippner & H. L. Friedman (Eds.) Mysterious Minds: The Neurobiology of Psychics, Mediums, and Other Extraordinary People (pp. 1 – 33). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-Clio.

Schmidt, H. (1987). The strange properties of psychokinesis. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1, 103 – 118.

Tressoldi, P. E., Storm, L., & Radin, D. (2010). Extrasensory perception and quantum models of cognition. NeuroQuantology, 8, Supplement 1, S81 – S87.

Vedral, V. (2011, June). Living in a quantum world. Scientific American, 304(6), 38 – 43.

Walker, E. H. (1975). Foundations of parapsychical and parapsychological phenomena. In L. Oteri (Ed.) Proceedings of an International Conference: Quantum Physics and Parapsychology (pp. 1 – 44). New York: Parapsychology Foundation, Inc.

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Williams, B. J., & Roll, W. G. (2006). Psi, place memory, & laboratory space. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 49th Annual Convention, 248 – 258.

Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Greening, E., Stevens, P., & O’Keeffe, C. (2002). An investigation into the alleged haunting of Hampton Court Palace: Psychological variables and magnetic fields. Journal of Parapsychology, 66, 387 – 408.

Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Stevens, P., Greening, E., & O’Keeffe, C. (2003). An investigation into alleged ‘hauntings.’ British Journal of Psychology, 94, 195 – 211.

Brief Reflections on William Roll's Psi-Field Concept

Mark A. Schroll, Ph.D.

The significance of William Roll's psi-field concept deserves more attention than this brief reflection offers us, yet the best way I know to honor the memory of his life is to take a moment and recollect its importance. This remembrance echoes the concerns of parapsychological researchers as diverse as Jessica Utts, Edwin C. May, and Rhea A. White, who all agree “it is not more data we need to make the case for a field theory of consciousness and/or psi fields; it is the need for a theory of psi” (Schroll, 2010b, p. 13). According to Utts, “it is recommended that future experiments focus on understanding how this phenomenon works, and how to make it as useful as possible” (Utts, cited in Schwartz, 2005, p. 8); May concurs “that evidentiary experiments are no longer needed” (May, 2010, p. 215); and White sums up the problem as well as anyone:

When it comes to the mind, science as we have known it cannot progress very far. Where every other field leaves off is where parapsychology begins . . . What is needed is not the old but the new. Not so much new technology as a new orientation. Our subject matter is ourselves and the frontier we must penetrate and explore lives within us, both as individuals and in our species consciousness and Jung's collective unconscious. (White, 1998, p. 114).

“Jung's collective unconscious is yet another conceptual means of approaching this same problem of a nonlocal field of memory and echoes the same challenge: the need for a comprehensive theory of psi and of cosmos and consciousness” (Schroll, 2010b, p. 13). In my last correspondence with Roll, he wrote that he “looked forward to reading my article 'The Physics of Psi: An Interview with Stanley Krippner” (personal correspondence, September 4, 2009). Unfortunately, by the time this article was published and I sent it to Roll, he was too ill to respond.

The Psi-Field: A Continuing Inquiry

To the best of my knowledge and brief correspondence with Roll, he was the first to apply the field hypothesis to our understanding of psi in his article “The Psi Field” (Roll, 1964, personal correspondence September 3, 2009). Prior to this, during the 1950s the physicist and philosopher David Bohm began working out a view of physics that led to a

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breakthrough in understanding the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox (EPR). Those of us who are interested, or need additional background on the EPR Paradox, see Schroll, 2010b, pp. 4-5. Additional questions I had hoped to take up with Roll included whether or not his hypothesis of the psi field had been influenced by Bohm, and if they had ever met.

To reiterate the key points of this brief recollection:

Mentioning “remote viewing” [or clairvoyance, telepathy, precognition, psychokinesis, psychic healing—the “big five as Charles T. Tart calls them--(Tart, 2009, p. 12) creates immediate cognitive dissonance in those of us that accept psi as real because skeptics immediately ask, “how does it work?” Attempts to bolster this discussion with experimental data sounds impressive at first, yet our ability to accept “limitless mind” is not an empirical problem—but a conceptual one. Data, in other words, is auxiliary to hypothesis and theory, and Russell Targ gets right to the point as to what the conceptual problem is: we live in a non-local reality [(Targ, 2004)]. Still this leaves many of us again adrift, as we seek to relate psi and non-locality. . . .

Many of us know that modern physics currently lacks a metaphor. Psi's method of drawing impressions to provide access to symbols and non-analytical unconscious processes could provide a means to envision this metaphor. Likewise for example Jung's interpretation of Wolfgang Pauli's dream of “the world clock” that led them to develop the concept of synchronicity, and transpersonal psychology helped validate Jung. Another reason for this metaphor is that psi, Jung, and transpersonal psychology will not be properly recognized and understood until psychologists stop envisioning the human condition in terms of Newtonian physics, and begin to envision a quantum-relativistic view—all of which search for something more inclusive. Mind is no longer confined to our physical bio-chemical brains and skin encapsulated egos, but is capable of being considered as a field or morphogenetic field as Rupert Sheldrake refers to it. (Schroll, 2008, 255).

Conclusion

This kind of phenomena, this kind of energy, cannot currently be accepted within the framework of Euro-American science (Kennedy, 2011; Schroll, 2010a):

It violates the concept of action-at-a-distance: How can there be a physical manifestation of “energy” beyond what is referred to as “localized” events in physics? What is the medium, the means of transmitting this kind of energy? This is the real scientific problem of accepting these kinds of phenomena. Either you have to say that the type of energy we are talking about here has no connection to the material world (i.e., supernatural), or you have to postulate some kind of energy, some means of signal transmission that is not now known (Schroll, 2011, p. 18).

Like many others, I argue against supernatural explanations because these imply some “immaterial agency or influence that goes beyond natural laws, which raises the question of how this immaterial agency is able to influence matter (interact with our brain/body/senses)” (Schroll, 2011, p.18). This brings us back to my interest in Roll's concept of the psi-field and my continuing inquiry into the philosophical legacy of Bohm.

References

Kennedy, J. E. (2011). Information in life, consciousness, quantum physics, and paranormal phenomena. The Journal of Parapsychology, 75(1), 15-41.

May, E. C. (2010). Technical challenges for the way forward. The Journal of Parapsychology, 74(2), 211-217.

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Roll, W. G. (1964). The Psi Field. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association, 1, 1957-1964, 32-65.

Schroll, M. A. (2008). Review of Russell Targ (2004) Limitless mind: A guide to remote viewing and transformation. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 40(2), 255-256.

Schroll, M. A. (2010a). Toward a new kind of science and its methods of inquiry. Anthropology of Consciousness, 21(1), 1-29.

Schroll, M. A. (2010b). The physics of psi: An interview with Stanley Krippner. Transpersonal Psychology Review, 14(1), 3-15.

Schroll, M. A. (2011). Commentary. Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal, 2(3), 17-20. Reprinted with revisions as “Reflecting on Paranthropology” in the forthcoming Paranthropology: Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal. J. Hunter (Ed.), Bristol, UK: Paranthropology, In Press, pp. 58-66.

Schwartz, S. A. (2005). Remote viewing: The modern mental martial art. 3rd edition. Minneapolis, MN: Neomoseen.

Targ, R. (2004). Limitless mind: A guide to remote viewing and transformation of consciousness. Foreword by Jean Houston. Novato, CA: New World Library.

Tart, C. T. (2009). The end of materialism: How evidence of the paranormal is bringing science and spirit together. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

White, R. A. (1998). An alternate future for parapsychology: An editorial. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 92(2), 109-115.

Bill Roll’s 2007 Speech Given at the Rhine Center

Editor’s note: Bill Roll gave this speech at the Rhine at a 2007 reunion of the Psychical Research Foundation, and it seems fitting that we include it here in this newsletter. It shows, as Sally Rhine Feather commented, “Bill’s usual flair and humor,” and also gives us a personal take on some of the history behind parapsychology. Here is the transcript:

“My sincere thanks to Sally Feather and to the folks at the Rhine Research Center for bringing the PRF together for this party and my thanks to the many PRF workers for being here today.

Historical Overview:

A Psychical Research Fund was created by Dr. J.B. Rhine in 1960 with financial backing by Mr. Charles E. Ozanne to explore the issue of survival after death... The fund continued as the Psychical Research Foundation the following year. Dr. J.G. Pratt was appointed President, Prof. H.H. Price, my teacher at Oxford, was made Vice-President, and I became Project Director.

Mr. Ozanne was convinced about survival after death but recognized that the evidence was not strong. The PRF would hopefully fill in the gap. Dr. Rhine seemed doubtful that this would happen because the evidence from mediumship and similar efforts could be explained in terms of ESP without the aid of the departed but he was open-minded, and organized a conference on the topic that included Price, Pratt, Dr. Louisa Rhine and me.

I had made my first poltergeist investigation in 1958, well before the PFR, again through Rhine’s initiative. The senior investigator was Dr. Pratt. Dr. Pratt and I came up with the term recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis or RSPK to replace poltergeist because we thought that the phenomena were due to PK by the 12-year-old son in the family.

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Other cases followed as well as hauntings, but in haunts there was also no evidence that the minds of the departed were involved. The apparitions, the strange sense of presences, the odd smells, the drops in temperature seemed to be due to anomalous magnetic fields and their effect on the brains of the occupants. It seemed that the sites were not haunted by the spirits of the dead but by energetic fields. These fields can be dangerous to the health of occupants, humans as well as their animal pets.

In 1964 Dr. Rhine retired from Duke and moved the laboratory, library and offices just outside the walls of the Duke East Campus, the erstwhile home of the Parapsychology Laboratory. At the same time I moved the PRF to my home in Durham. Then about 1969 the PRF returned to Duke now as a sponsored program at the Duke School of Electrical Engineering.

This event was due to the Dean of EE, Dr. Alexander Vesic and resulted from our close collaboration with members of the School, particularly with Dr. Bill Joines, which has continued to this day. We rented two small houses from Duke, one for our library and offices, the other for our laboratory. A little later we acquired a third house as a center for meditation and meditation research. The focus of our work was experiments, most notably with Sean Harribance and Keith Harary. Ingo Swann visited briefly out-of-body, achieving spectacular success in a test by Jerry Solfvin and Keith Harary.

We had a wonderful research team. Aside from Jerry, there was Bob Morris, Judy Klein, John Stump, and Joanne Krieger. After the PRF, Bob became Koestler Professor at the University of Edinburgh. It takes special skill to work with psychics like Sean and Keith. If it were not for Judy and John, I don’t think the work with Sean would have succeeded.

Fritz Klein was essential to this work as well. It was he who resuscitated a comatose EEG machine from Monte Ullman that he had used for his dream-telepathy work in New York. It was with the aid of this machine that we discovered that the alpha brain wave was essential for Sean’s ESP... Bill Joines played a central role in understanding RSPK energy and Steve Baumann discovered brain processes in Tina Resch that were related to her RSPK. Ann Poole and her daughter aided the work with Tina.

Linda Fleishman, my administrative assistant—or superior—made everything happen in an orderly fashion. Frank Auman, PRF Board member, supplemented the Ozanne fund together with others. Aum is the same as the Sanskrit word om and signifies the spiritual essence of the universe. Julia Hardy was editor of our journal THETA, and Tomiko Smith, a skilled psychic inspired us, and there were others. It’s a joy for me to see so many of you here.

Then Dean Vesic, our guardian angel, died and Duke discovered that the PRF was sitting on a valuable resource--parking spaces... Our three houses were bulldozed and the land paved over. But sometimes, when the moon is full, you may see three little houses rise from the macadam.

The PRF moved to an office in the Methodist Center in Chapel Hill. It was there that we investigated the RSPK of Tina Resch.

Aside from RSPK, I have been fascinated by psychometry, the ability of some psychics to inspect past lives of the living and the dead. The famed psychometrist Noreen Renier who is here today, worked at the PRF in the early days. Noreen has now written a remarkable book, A Mind for Murder, about her work for the police and the FBI. I haven’t had much success myself in getting experimental evidence for this ability, but I’ve done the next best thing by writing reviews of the major work, including Noreen’s book.

What about survival after death? It seems clears that humans persist after death together with their houses, lands, etc. in what’s called space-time. But do these strands represent the consciousness that animate the bodies of the individuals before death? That’s more doubtful. It seem t o me that that the evidence for apparitions of the departed,

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mediumistic communications and what’s known as rebirth memories can be better understood in terms of the persistence of our past in space-time.

There’s an American Indian saying, “By our tracks you shall know us,” We have left bloody tracks not only on our own soil but in places we have no business being. We must take care that our tracks are beneficial, because they will always be there.

Where should parapsychology go? I think we should go hand-in-hand with the other sciences, especially with biology and neurophysiology. I think our field can best be characterized as the study of the biology of Psi or a bio-Psi. That’s where the facts point, as far as I know, and I’m farsighted as you can see.

Sally has spoken to me about whether the University of West Georgia might be interested in setting up Website to support parapsychology and the teaching of parapsychology. Such a website should support the work of Steve Baumann, Bill Joines, William Braud, Dick Bierman who seek to align psi with the other branches of science.

Transcendental Postscript:

Last night, Steve Baumann, Bill Joines, Jane Katra, and I spent a happy evening as the guests of Jerry Conser, the current PRF president, and his wife Delli. I have difficulty remembering names, but I recall hers by simply adding Catessen after Delli, for Delli Catessen Conser. As you can see, her name is truly fitting. She is also highly intelligent; even before meeting Jerry; she had read one of my books.

The six of us spent a highly spiritual evening together. I had two gin martinis, and everyone else also had two stiff drinks, Jerry as always finishing with Coke, of course the wet kind.

Well folks, that’s the news from the Psychical Research Foundation; where all the women are psychic; all the men are good looking; and all the children and grandchildren are above average.”

The changing face of the Rhine Research Center. The East Duke building housed the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory that was home to the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM) and the Institute for Parapsychology from 1965 to 2002. The new building on Campus Walk Avenue currently houses the Rhine Research Center.

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Studies in the Paranormal; Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Unknown Guest: a series of twelve Sri Lankan cases

S. N. ARSECULERATNE

Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka,

J. S. EDIRISINGHE

Faculty of Medicine, University of Rajarata, Sri Lanka

&

D. V. J. HARISCHANDRA

Consultant Psychiatrist, Galle, Sri Lanka

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

- Hamlet, William Shakespeare

“I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain, as a fraud.” – C. G. Jung

“It is entirely possible that behind the perception of our senses, worlds are hidden of which we are unaware.”

– Albert Einstein

Abstract

Twelve cases from Sri Lanka are reported, to bear on the mediation of an Unknown Guest to use Maurice Maeterlinck’s term; other possibilities of mediation involve, precognition, clairvoyance and discarnate entities. The data presented are from first-hand reports.

Introduction

We are using the title “The Unknown Guest” from Maeterlinck (1914), Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1911, quoted in Brian Inglis’s book Natural and Supernatural: A history of the Paranormal (1992) because we cannot clearly attribute some of the incidents that we relate below, to an identifiable or familiar entity, agency or mechanism, although some terms in current parapsychology could be applied to them. There are various interpretations that could be given as to who or what this Unknown Guest could be; it could be in the realms of conventional psychology or parapsychology (the Paranormal) or an entity that is as yet not completely understood or resolved by the methods of Modern Science or psychology, nor have any theories or paradigms been formulated as their bases, unlike in modern materialistic science.

In the event that readers are not familiar with the term “parapsychology”, it refers to the study of events that relate to obscure mechanisms that involve the mind. A broader term that includes parapsychology is the “Paranormal” that contains the more popular Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP) and Clairvoyance (included in the term General Extra-Sensory Perception GESP by Dr. J. B. Rhine – [Beloff 1993] ), and Psychokinesis (PK, also termed Telekinesis), all three of which probably are mediated by the mind and hence belong to the category of parapsychology; R. H. Thouless in Britain in 1942, proposed the term ‘psi’ as a generic term to include both ESP and PK…. “The term ’psi’ is thus the least question-begging of the various terms used to denote some paranormal function” (Beloff 1993). One of the present authors has had first-hand experiences on two (clairvoyance, and psychokinesis), while these three phenomena, (clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis) are clearly validated in the parapsychological literature.

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There are some other paranormal phenomena but to mention two of them – Retrocognition, a classic example of which was the documented, retrospective but later authenticated vision of two old ladies in the 21st century, of a scene that occurred during the French Revolution in the 18th century (North 1997), and ‘discarnate entities’ (discarnate intelligences) – a term derived from Thirty years among the Dead - Carl A. Wickland (1974), Other-side of death scientifically examined and carefully described - C. W. Leadbeater (2002), and Magic and Mysticism: Studies in Bygone Beliefs - H. S. Redgrove (2004)”, authenticated and illustrated in books by John G. Fuller (1979) The airmen who would not die , and John G. Fuller (1976) The ghost of flight 401.

In Britain, The Society for Psychical Research was formed in the late 19th century and the American Society not long after. The Parapsychological Association founded by Dr J. B. Rhine of ESP fame was accepted in 1969 “as an affiliate member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science…” (Beloff 1993). Readers who are interested in the status of ‘psi’ could read Jessica Utts’ article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (1996) An assessment of the evidence for Psychic Functioning. The events described below, therefore, can be regarded as within the ambit, though at the frontiers, of psychological science, and not as what illiterate persons, both so-called scientists or lay-people would call “mumbo-jumbo”. We should add a saddening comment; with the profusion of paranormal incidents in this country (and in South Asia as far as we know), no societies for psychical research have been established; the only attempted Society in the University of Peradeniya remains still-born.

Let us then discuss what we mean by ‘Paranormal’. Normal events in Nature are those that are amenable to modern scientific, materialistic exploration; that is they can be investigated by the methods of objective modern science, with ‘inter-subjective testability’ for replicability. Modern science is the great intellectual enterprise that resulted from The Scientific Revolution that occurred during the last three or four hundred years in Western Europe, and which gave us vaccines, penicillin, space travel and alas, the atomic bomb. We do not use that word ’Normal’ in the sense that Thomas Kuhn, in his famous book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ used the terms ‘Normal Science’ and ‘Revolutionary Science’ which meant respectively the incremental, small, piecemeal advances made by successive researchers while Revolutionary Science meant what Kuhn termed radical breakthroughs and establishment of entirely new paradigms in science; for instance Newtonian mechanics which can easily deal with the behavior of billiard balls, gave way to newer Quantum mechanics which can deal with the more elusive sub-atomic particles as an example of Revolutionary Science.

We are not entirely happy with the use of the apparently simple word “objective” (in “objective modern science” written in the preceding paragraph). Although in matters of scientific inquiry in which a dispassionate mind-set and not prior conditioning, is absolutely essential to prevent bias in twisting one’s interpretation to suit one’s prior conditioning, this is an extremely difficult stance to attain because we all have been conditioned since childhood to believe, even without firm evidence, this idea or that idea, so indulging in what Romm (1977) termed “shoe-fitting”, “…misinterpreting events to fit one’s expectations” (Child 2001). It is for that reason that the famous Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti introduced one of his lectures in Colombo in the 1950s, saying that he wished his audience would listen “with an unprejudiced mind” to what he will be saying; the commoner term for this attitude is “keeping an open mind”.

There are some mechanisms or explanations other than those included as GESP to be considered as agents of these interventions recorded here and they could also fall into the contexts of psychology and parapsychology. The present authors (except DVJH) are not psychiatrists nor psychologists (we cannot judge whether that is a qualification

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or a disqualification to write this report) but ones who have had some familiarity with events (and literature) that can be categorized as belonging to the Paranormal, and our discussion is confined within the limits of our experience.

The terms “The Unknown Guest” or the more popular “apparition” or “discarnate entity (discarnate intelligence) may be illustrated by some of the following authentic stories, though other parapsychological explanations (e.g. Precognition) are possible. Some of these incidents were related at first hand to the authors by the persons who experienced them, or were experienced by one of the authors; statements at first hand are italicized. The following is a qualitative, retrospective report of twelve cases that have a paranormal bearing and not the results of a statistically-analysed, quantitive, prospective study which we believe is difficult or impossible to achieve with the sources that we report from.

Case 1. H, while at his residence in the deep south of Sri Lanka, had a dream at 4 am in which he was told to ”go to 73”. On the following day he discussed with about twenty people what 73 could have meant. On the following morning he got a telephone call from Colombo telling him to come immediately to Ward 73. Though a doctor, he did not know of a ward 73 in any hospital in Colombo, but was later told that the Accident Ward of the General Hospital, Colombo was Ward 73. His daughter had been admitted to that Ward around 12 noon on the previous day after an accident.

Comment. Precognition through his sub-conscious, dreaming mind and not his conscious mind when awake as in many reported instances of Precognition, is a possibility. Clairvoyance of a future event is another possibility. In either event, this case is in parallel with the dreams in some of the cases (2, 3, and 5) discussed by Stevenson (1960) on the disaster of the Titanic in 1912; in the latter series, some Precognitions were specific as in his Case 2, while his Cases 3 and 5 were vague although the major event, the sinking of the ship was identified.

Case 2. H (of Case 1) was travelling to a major hospital in Colombo on the west coast. His girl-friend (later his wife) had been discussing with him the personality of man and requested him to try getting for her a book The Personality of Man. Before he reached his destination, he “had a sudden urge to get off the bus”. He had no interest in that spot or reason for him to get off the bus. On the pavement where he alighted was an itinerant seller of second-hand books. H was curious to see what books the man had for sale, and found in the vendor’s pile and bought the book named by his wife.

Comments

H was not consciously aware of the availability of this book in the vendor’s pile. Precognition is a possibility since he had the book’s name in his memory. Alternatively it could appear as if some agent (The Unknown Guest) had prompted his alighting from the bus at the very spot where the vendor was. Such an event could be termed a “Significant Coincidence”, a term used by Arthur Koestler (1972) who founded the Koestler Chair for Parasychology in the University of Edinburgh, UK.

The data on Cases 1 and 2 were confirmed from a tape-recording of H’s lecture at which he related these incidents. Is the term “a Sensitive” referring to a person who is receptive to GESP, applicable to H of Cases 1 and 2, and to E of Cases 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 below?

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Case 3. M and his wife were abroad and their son in Colombo, regularly took his sister out in the mornings to teach her to drive their car. This car was a usually reliable Honda car. On the day in question, the parents, now abroad, had listened to a television news program that reported a large bomb-explosion that had occurred near their home town’s (Colombo’s) office of the General Officer Commanding (GOC), of the Sri Lankan Army. They telephoned home and were told by their son that the television story was correct and that on that particular morning at the time of their intended driving lesson, their car had failed to start; had the car started and proceeded down that road on which the GOC’s office was situated, they would certainly have been blown-up in the bomb explosion. The terrorists of the LTTE were active at this time in Sri Lanka.

Half an hour later their car started normally as before.

Comment Their car was a reliable one which failed to start on this very day and time, just prior to the bomb-attack, and it started at the next attempt, half an hour after the failed first attempt. Psychokinesis (the performance of physical acts through mental forces) with Precognition, in the disabling of the car could be possibilities, although reported instances of Psychokinesis and Precognition were mediated by real-life persons and not by unseen hands. This case had no evidence, from the prior experiences of M, of parapsychological mediation such as Telepathy, Clairvoyance, or Precognition on the part of M or his wife, or even their son and daughter. The possibility, on the other hand, of the intervention by The Unknown Guest needs to be considered. M also stated that shortly before this incident, a daughter had passed away; he wondered whether the protective intervention of disabling of their car was mediated by the “discarnate intelligence” of their dead daughter; this might be an alternative explanation apart from an Unknown Guest.

Case 4. E was driving along a road on the right of which was a hill and on the left, a slope to a deep valley below. A woman walked across the path of the car from the valley-side that had no trees or shrubs. E braked and lowering the car’s shutter told the woman: “Amme, mokakda me keruwe?” (Lady, what did you do?) The lady did not complete crossing the road and in an instant when E looked back, she was nowhere to be seen.

At his destination, home, his mother, was in poor health. E sat with her throughout the evening; she told him about her childhood and her later life. Having said she was sure that E did not know the combination to her safe, went with him to the safe, got E to write it down, and they went back to her room and she related events in her childhood which E never knew about. At about 7 that evening, she died while holding E’s hand.

Comment. Is it possible that E’s mother was on the verge of becoming a discarnate intelligence, although the discarnate intelligence of other instances where this term was used was of a person who had already died as in the case of Don Repo, the flight engineer in John G. Fuller’s The Ghost of flight 401? The alternative possibility of The Unknown Guest may be considered.

Case 5. E (of Case 3) was sleeping at night in his campus room upstairs. He heard a ‘scraping’ sound from the balcony. He thought it was a bird. Then the fingers of a pair of hands gripping the balcony half-wall came into view as if someone was trying to climb in, though no one ever entered the balcony that way before, with a stairway available. Then E saw his hair, then his forehead and next the face grinning at him; E got up and the apparition disappeared. His face was unmistakable as it was one of E’s cousins whom E had not met for about ten years.

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That evening E received a telephone call from his sister informing him of the death of that cousin due to a sudden cerebral haemorrhage.

Comment. As in Case 3 is it possible that E’s cousin was on the verge of becoming a discarnate intelligence?

The term ‘apparition’ is perhaps applicable to the “woman who crossed the road” in Case 4 and the “face” in Case 5. In some reported instances,’apparitions’ have been of deceased persons as in the case related at first hand by Major Villiers to John G. Fuller in the latter’s The airmen who would not die, where the apparition was of a pilot who had died in a plane crash: the term “discarnate intelligence” might be more relevant to Villiers’ case.

A point of difference in Case 4 was that the “woman who crossed the road”, was not the “sensitive’s” (E’s) mother who died later, while in Case 5, the apparition was that of the “sensitive’s” (E’s) cousin who died that day.

Case 6. E (of cases 4 and 5), was at the head of a bus-queue and when the bus came, “Something” told E to refuse; “…it was a compelling thought”, he said to one of the authors. He allowed the next person to go ahead into the bus; this person, a prosperous-looking business-man who boarded the bus before E looked at E from inside the bus, invited E in and said he would keep the seat beside him vacant for him. On our way in the next bus on the same long route, we stopped at a crowd of people who were looking at a bus fallen in the shallow valley below. The business-man who beckoned me in to that bus, was leaning against a tree, with a blood-splattered shirt, waiting for transport to hospital”. (words of E are italicised)

Comment E was aware, he said, that he had the “remarkable ability to tell what people would do next or at least to guess right”; he, as much as H in Cases 1 and 2, might be termed a “Sensitive”, a person who is receptive to GESP, as used in the parapsychological literature. The “something” that told him to avoid the ill-fated bus could have been The Unknown Guest of Maurice Maeterlinck (1914) or Precognition on the part of E.

Case 7. G as a young man went with his friends to a swimming pool late one evening. A life-guard was in attendance. At the deep-end of the pool, G who wasn’t a good swimmer was in difficulties and the life-guard jumped in to help him out. The life-guard’s duties normally ended at 5 pm after which he went home but on this day he decided to remain for longer and it was after 5 pm when G’s incident occurred.

Comment. The life-guard who had made the unusual decision to remain at work after 5 pm was perhaps The Unknown Guest; he could also have had Precognition, though not a specific one, of a disaster.

Case 8. E on a trip to a Sri Lankan ruined city, stayed the night over at the state’s circuit bungalow. The driver of that vehicle “had a compelling thought” to avoid parking the vehicle at a vacant place but decided to park the vehicle further on. Very soon after, a large, roofing asbestos sheet crashed vertically on the spot which the driver avoided; it could have injured or killed the driver.

Comment. As in Case 6, the mediating agency could have been either Precognition on the part of the driver, or The Unknown Guest.

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Case 9. Related to E, by the mother of a medical student (S). S was a regular customer at a café. One day during the secessionist-terrorist campaign in Sri Lanka, S at first thought of visiting the café but “something” compelled him to avoid it. A few minutes later a terrorist bomb devastated the café, killing several people.

Comment. The mediating agency could have been either Precognition as on the part of the driver in Case 8, or The Unknown Guest that compelled him to avoid that café.

Case 10. As told to one of the authors E. E’s cousin was a staff officer at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. One morning, she was preparing to go for work at the bank but “something compelled her to stay away. She telephoned her secretary to say she would not be coming as she was ‘unwell’ (feigned). A large terrorist bomb destroyed much of the bank that morning”.

Comment. As in Cases 6, 7, 8 and 9, the mediating agency could have been either Precognition, or The Unknown Guest in Case 10 that compelled her to stay away from her office on that ill-fated morning. A specific Precognition of an impending bomb was absent.

Case 11. As told to E. A relative (R) of E took up a post at the Central Bank of Case 10. A “peon”, an assistant, who had earlier worked with R pleaded with R to get him also a place at the Bank. On the day when a terrorist bomb destroyed much of the Bank, on the same occasion as in Case 10, R was out of the office but the peon-assistant was found as a charred body; he was identified by his wrist-watch.

Comment. R’s decision to leave the building temporarily could have been due to his sub-conscious Precognition of the terrorist’s bomb or the mediation of The Unknown Guest, while the ‘peon’ who died was not a GESP ‘Sensitive’ and did not receive the message about the bomb.

Case 12. A lady-passenger on an outstation bus was unsure of where she should alight. The ”Passenger” who was seated beside her told her that he worked at the Central Bank in the country’s capital Colombo, and that she should alight at the next bus-stop. After her trip, she called the Central Bank’s division where the ‘Passenger’ said he worked, to thank him but the official at the Bank who answered her call appeared reluctant to give the telephone to the “passenger’ on the bus who had helped her. After repeating her request to talk to that “Passenger” who said he worked at the Bank, the official who answered her call, finally said that the “Passenger” no longer worked at the Bank, and that he had died some months earlier.

Comment. The dead “passenger” was more probably an example of the “Unknown Guest” who was then a “discarnate intelligence” at the time of the lady’s call to the Bank.

Discussion

Cases 7, 8, 9 and 10 could illustrate what Arthur Koestler (1972) termed Significant

Coincidences. Our Cases 6 and 7 were experienced at first hand, while Cases 8, 9, and 10 were acquired at second hand. The reason for the occurrence of three (10, 11, 12) of the twelve cases in a single institution, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, is obscure. In the eleven cases on the sinking of the Titanic discussed by Stevenson (1960), some with what we regard as Significant Coincidences, the Precognitions occurred earlier, from several years in Morgan Robertson’s novel (Case 1 of Stevenson), to just before the sinking incident. In our cases as well as in Stevenson’s cases except

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perhaps in his Experience 1, the element of inference on the possible occurrence of the subsequent events, needs to be, and can be, ruled out.

The question of ESP and Dreams, as suggested by our Case 1, has been commented on by Child (2001, p.158) who stated: “The experimental evidence suggesting that dreams may actually be influenced by ESP comes almost entirely from a research program carried out at the Maimonides Medical Centre in Brooklyn, New York. Among scientists active in parapsychology, this program is widely known and greatly respected” .

Another possible correlate of the agencies involved in perhaps all these cases is what Carl G. Jung the psychoanalyst in 1952 termed “Synchronicity: An acausal connecting principle”. Beloff (1993) commented: “Then having created this new concept, Jung, who had, of course a long-standing interest in parapsychology and had corresponded with (J. B.) Rhine, proposed that ‘psi’ phenomena, too, could be regarded as instances of synchronicity”, and that, “Synchronicity or seriality could thus provide the conceptual basis for a science of meaningful coincidences”, the “significant coincidences” of Arthur Koestler (1972). Beloff added another perspective to the parapsychological terminology in stating: “… the term synchronicity is now unlikely to disappear from the parapsychological vocabulary, if only because it fulfils a need when we are confronted by those cases which cannot be easily assimilated to ‘psi’ and yet suggest something more significant than ‘mere’ coincidence”.

In conclusion, what Beloff (1993) considered the “most poignant aspect” of Pawlowski’s (1925) account of séances with Franek Kluski 1925 was Pawlowski’s comment: “I am perfectly convinced that we are on the threshold of a new science and probably of a new era. It is impossible to reject or to deny these phenomena, and it is impossible to explain them by clever trickery. I realize perfectly that it is difficult for anyone to accept them…... To accept them would mean to change entirely our attitude towards life and death, to be obliged to revise entirely our sciences and our philosophy”. Beloff’s in his critical review of Parapsychology (1993) stated: “Of one thing we can feel reasonably sure, however, parapsychology will continue to challenge our assumptions about the world, and about what can or cannot happen therein, for a long time to come”.

In Sri Lanka, a country with a cultural heritage that comfortably accommodates the acceptance of psi-phenomena, we should feel encouraged to explore the profusion of such phenomena, noting Beloff’s (1993) comment: “… the countries that have produced the best evidence for reincarnation are precisely those countries or those communities where belief in reincarnation is a strong component of culture”, and that “Parapsychologists, on the other hand, threaten the ontological foundations of conventional science”, a worthy challenge to meet.

References

Beloff, John. 1993. Parapsychology. A concise History. The Athlone Press, London.

Child, Irvin L. 2001. Psychology and Anomalous Observations: The Question of ESP in Dreams. In: Rao, K. R. 2001 (qv).

Fuller, John G. 1976. The Ghost of Flight 401. Corgi Books, Transworld Publishers, London.

Fuller John G. 1979. The airmen who would not die. Book Club Associates, London.

Inglis, Brian. 1992. Natural and Supernatural: A history of the paranormal. Prism Unity, Dorset.

Jung, Carl G. 1955. The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche. Routledge, London. (English edition) - An English version of Jung’s 1952 book Complete works of C. G. Jung: Routledge & Kegan Paul, London).

Koestler, Arthur. 1972. The Roots of Coincidence. Hutchinson, London.

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Leadbeater, C. W. 2002. Other side of death scientifically examined and carefully described. Kessinger Publishing LLC. The Citadel Press

Maeterlinck, M. K. 1914. The Unknown Guest. London.

North, Anthony. 1997. The Paranormal. A guide to the Unexplained. Blandford, London.

Pawlowski, F. W. 1925. The mediumship of Franek Kluski of Warsaw. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 19: 482 – 504.

Rao, K. Ramakrishna. 2001. Basic research in Parapsychology. 2nd ed. McFarland & Co. Inc, North Carolina, USA.

Redgrove, H. S. 2004. Magic and Mysticism: Studies in Bygone Beliefs. Kessinger Publishing LLC. The Citadel Press

Romm, E. G. 1977. When you give a closet occultist a PhD, what kind of research can you expect? The Humanist, 37(3), 12 - 15.

Stevenson, Ian. 1960. A Review and Analysis of Paranormal Experiences Connected with the Sinking of the Titanic. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 54: 153 – 171.

Utts, Jessica. 1996. An assessment of the evidence for psychic functioning. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10(1): 3 -30.

Wickland, Carl A. 1974. Thirty years among the Dead. Newcastle Publishing Co. Inc. NY.

Recommended reading

Alcock, James E. 1981. Parapsychology: Science or Magic? A Psychological Perspective.

Pergamon Press, Oxford. (Child, 2001 [qv] has critically reviewed Alcock’s views). Thank you for your support of the Rhine Research Center! For a list of upcoming events at the Rhine Research Center, press ctrl + click here.

THE RHINE ONLINE


The Rhine Research Center’s Quarterly Newsletter

Volume 4, Issue 2, 2012
Editor: Jennifer Moore

A Tribute to William G. Roll

Table of Contents (Press control + click to link to the title)

Letter from the editor

A Personal Tribute to William G. Roll by Bryan Williams

Brief Reflections on William Roll's Psi-Field Concept by Mark Schroll, Ph.D.

Bill Roll’s 2007 Speech Given at the Rhine Center

Studies in the Paranormal; Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Unknown Guest: a series of twelve Sri Lankan cases by S. N. Arseculeratne, et al.

University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Summer 2012

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Letter from the editor

Dear friends,

I am proud to bring you the summer, 2012, edition of the Rhine Research Center’s quarterly newsletter. In addition to our usual slate of extraordinary speakers in the past few months (Bill Bengston, Ron Papallardo, Norm Shealy, Jim Carpenter, Donna Spring Gulick, Judy Gardiner, and Joe McMoneagle) the Rhine Research Center has also hosted two notable events: the Parapsychological Association’s 55th International Convention and, along with the Psychical Research Foundation, a commemoration of the life and work of William G. (Bill) Roll, whom Sally Rhine Feather, Ph.D., says we could call "Mr. Poltergeist" as he is “an early leader in careful field investigations and survival-related research.”

This newsletter includes two articles about Bill Roll, one from Bryan Williams of the University of New Mexico, keynote speaker at the conference, who considers Roll to be one of his most important lifetime mentors. Additionally, Mark A. Schroll, Ph.D., has written an overview of Roll’s contribution to the field of psi over the years. Additionally, I have included a speech that Roll delivered at the Rhine Center in 2007 as I think it gives you an idea of his wit and expansive knowledge about the history of parapsychology.

On another note, I am pleased to share with you a most intriguing article submitted from professors in Sri Lanka. They describe twelve fascinating cases of psi occurrence and discuss various potential causes for the anomalous events. The events are the type with which the average person typically has had some sort of experience – synchronicities, a serendipitous delay that caused someone to miss a plane that later crashed, that sort of thing. It is the type of experience that keep believers interested in psi and the type that will continue to keep skeptics from ever finding “proof” against parapsychology. I know you will enjoy reading it, and the authors’ comments are enlightening.

Finally, we are looking forward to upcoming events and speakers throughout the fall. If you are in Durham in the next few months, make a note to drop by one of our upcoming events with such notable speakers as Russell Targ, Larry Burk, Susan Reintjes, Roger Nelson, and Ryan Hurd. Press control + click here for the most recent list of upcoming events.

As always, if you are interested in writing a letter to the editor as a comment about these articles or if you would like to share a psi experience, please send it as an email to Jennifer@rhine.org. I also accept article submissions at any point.

Thank you for your support of the Rhine Research Center!

- Jennifer Moore, editor

The Rhine Research Center’s Quarterly Newsletter

2741 Campus Walk Avenue, Building 500

Durham, NC 27705 * (919)309-4600

Rhine email: Office@rhine.org * Newsletter editor email: Jennifer@rhine.org Mission Statement: The Rhine Research Center explores the frontiers of consciousness and exceptional human experiences in the context of unusual and unexplained phenomena. The Rhine’s mission is to advance the science of parapsychology, to provide education and resources for the public, and to foster a community for individuals with personal and professional interest in PSI.

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A Personal Tribute to William G. Roll

Bryan Williams

I had the privilege and pleasure of working closely with Dr. William Roll for the last eight years of his life, and this experience has always been rewarding for me because Dr. Roll had played a pivotal role in my scholarly pursuit of parapsychology by being the researcher I looked up to for inspiration as a role model ever since my interest in the field was first piqued while in junior high school. To have the opportunity to directly work with and learn from the person that one respects most in his or her chosen field of study is a student’s dream come true, and I’ll always be grateful to Dr. Roll for granting me that opportunity.

It is quite likely that many people within and outside of parapsychology will remember Dr. Roll mostly for his numerous field investigations of haunts and recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK, more popularly known as “poltergeist” phenomena), and indeed when it came to these phenomena, he certainly stood among the most dedicated and quintessential of investigators. Over time, his persistent efforts in the field seemed to shed some useful light on the nature of these phenomena.

Likely stemming from long-held beliefs deeply rooted in myth and folklore, many of the anomalous occurrences reported at the sites of alleged haunts have traditionally been attributed to the actions of a discarnate spirit (i.e., a ghost), usually that of a deceased person who once lived or worked there. A striking finding to emerge from the many haunt cases investigated by Dr. Roll (see Roll & Persinger, 2001, pp. 154 – 160, for convenient summaries) is that very few cases seem to conform to this idea. Instead, Dr. Roll found that many of the occurrences were likely to have been related to the anomalous electromagnetic and geomagnetic fields that he typically found at such sites, which may have produced the occurrences through conventional physical effects and by affecting the brain activity of witnesses (op. cit., pp. 161 – 162). This was consistent with the findings obtained by several other field investigators, who also tended to find magnetic anomalies at certain haunt sites (e.g., Braithwaite, Perez-Aquino, & Townsend, 2005; Persinger & Koren, 2001, pp. 184 – 190; Wiseman et al., 2002, 2003).

Dr. Roll noticed that when witnesses reported seeing apparitions at the sites, they didn’t often resemble the classic image of a ghost – a full-bodied, animated spectral figure of a deceased human. Instead, they often took the form of ambiguous shadows, floating lights (“orbs”), or misty, indistinct shapes. In the instances where the apparitions did take a human form, they more often seemed to reflect the preoccupations of living people rather than dead ones. For instance, in a case that Dr. Roll investigated involving an allegedly haunted Japanese restaurant (Roll, Maher, & Brown, 1992), the manager of the restaurant often saw two ghosts that were also occasionally seen by his staff. One of the ghosts seemed to be a tall, slim man with a solemn and responsible demeanor, while the other appeared to be a short, obese, and intoxicated fellow with a very carefree personality. However, neither of the ghosts seemed to resemble people who were known to be dead. Instead, when they were examined closely, the two ghosts actually seemed to reflect the manager’s own personal needs, namely his need for mentorship and occasional leisure time

Loyd Auerbach (L) and John Kruth (R) at the Roll Tribute Event

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away from his strict managerial duties. On this basis, the manager considered the possibility that the two ghosts were simply psychically projected aspects of his own personality.

These findings tend to suggest that the phenomena in many haunt cases are not attributable to lingering ghosts of the dead. But in one or two rare cases, Dr. Roll did seem to find notable exceptions. In one such case that Dr. Roll had first investigated in the late 1980s, known as the “Gordy” case (summarized in Roll & Persinger, 2001, p. 160), a young girl encountered the full-bodied, animated spectral figures of two men who were known to have lived in her neighborhood many years before her family had moved there. The girl’s descriptions of these two men had closely matched their photographs, and she was able to correctly pick them out of a random collection of photographs. Try as he might, Dr. Roll was unable to find any normal way in which the girl could have learned about these two men prior to the time that her parents had verified their identities. The Gordy case is probably among Dr. Roll’s most familiar cases, as it was profiled on the popular television show Unsolved Mysteries in the early 1990s, and more recently, was the focus of the Discovery Channel show A Haunting in Georgia.

Apart from the possibility of some aspect of personality or consciousness surviving after death, haunting cases like the “Gordy” case may suggest survival of another sort. This would be survival in the sense of a persisting memory-like “imprint” or “trace” that is localized in space, and that can later be psychically perceived or “remembered” by others who occupy that space. This is what the philosopher H. H. Price (who, incidentally, was Dr. Roll’s teacher at Oxford) had called “place memory” (Price, 1940). In surveying the parapsychological literature, Dr. Roll and I had found several experiments and field studies with results that seemed suggestive of “place memory” (Williams & Roll, 2006), which offered a preliminary basis for considering this idea.

One might argue that Dr. Roll’s greatest contribution to parapsychology was the knowledge gained from his equally extensive investigations of reported RSPK or “poltergeist” phenomena (Roll, 1972/2004; Roll & Persinger, 2001, pp. 126 – 143). Such an argument would seem a bit ironic in light of the fact that Dr. Roll initially showed no interest in these phenomena at all and might not have pursued any research on them, had it not been for Dr. J. B. Rhine. After completing his studies under Professor Price at Oxford University in 1957, Dr. Roll received an invitation from Dr. Rhine to come to Duke University and join the staff of the Parapsychology Laboratory. As Dr. Roll once recalled of this period:

While at Oxford, I had heard about objects moving without tangible aid, then known as poltergeist, but had no interest in the alleged phenomenon at all. If an Oxford college had been the scene of a poltergeist outbreak, I doubt I would have bothered to stop by. As far as I was concerned, Rhine had shown the way to an understanding of psi, and this went through the door of the laboratory. But my work at Duke was not going anywhere. To my surprise, Rhine suggested that I join Dr. J. G. Pratt, the assistant director of the lab, on a poltergeist investigation. Rhine had launched me on a journey I would not otherwise have taken. (Roll, 2007, p. 114)

Sally Rhine Feather

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The results of Dr. Roll’s investigations seemed to add further support to Sir William Barrett’s (1911) early suspicions that, rather than being due to the mischievous acts of a “noisy spirit” (as the German term poltergeist implies), the frequent object movements in these cases were often associated with a living person. This was indicated by, among other things, the tendency for object movements to occur most often when that particular person was awake and present, as well as the tendency for the number of object movements to decrease as the distance between the objects and the person increased. Noting this apparent focus of object movements around a certain person, Dr. Roll and Dr. J. Gaither Pratt suggested that the movements might represent instances of large-scale PK occurring around that person, and they thus coined the term recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis as a way to label and describe them (Pratt & Roll, 1958). Often times, the person around whom the movements were focused (known as the RSPK agent) was in a situation that seemed to bring about considerable psychological tension for him or her. Once the agent was able to address and deal with this tension in a therapeutic way, the movements often vanished along with the agent’s problems.

One might also argue that Dr. Roll was one of parapsychology’s greatest theorists, and this argument would especially seem to bear out in light of his efforts during the period that I worked with him. He was particularly concerned with the fact that, although an impressive amount of experimental and spontaneous case data had been produced in support of psi phenomena, much of the mainstream scientific community was still not taking these phenomena seriously, partly for the lack of a widely accepted theory to explain them. Akin to the way that Einstein had spent the last few years of his life in search of a unified theory of physics, Dr. Roll dedicated several of his remaining years to searching for a way to bring psi phenomena closer to mainstream science. His ultimate goal in this was not necessarily to produce a detailed and fully working “unified theory” of psi, but rather to find a way in which we might begin to understand psi in light of what we have learned within mainstream science. In this way, he hoped to show that psi phenomena were not “paranormal,” but normal. There were two mainstream fields that, in Dr. Roll’s view, might shed particular light on psi: physics (especially quantum theory) and neuroscience.

Initially, Dr. Roll (2006) realized that physics held promise for understanding psi when he noticed a certain parallel between retrocognition (psychic perception of the past) and the perception of objects that are distant in space and time. For instance, when we look up at the sun, we are actually not seeing it as it is right at that moment, but rather we are seeing it as it was about eight minutes ago, because it takes that long for the sun’s light to reach Earth. In other words, we perceive the sun as existed in the past. The same goes for the stars in the night sky, but on a much longer time frame. The example that Dr. Roll liked to use to conceptualize this was looking at the photographs that the Hubble Space Telescope had taken of stars located in deep space. It is not readily apparent to us from just looking at them, but when we look at these brilliant photographs, we are actually looking far back into the past. In fact, since it can take millions of years for the light from these faraway stars to reach us, we are probably looking at them as they existed back around the time when the dinosaurs walked the Earth! What is also important for us to realize is that by the time their light reaches us, many of these stars will have long since burned out. Yet, in some sense, the stars still exist because the light from them still exists as it travels across space and time to reach us.

Even here on Earth, we may be perceiving things not as they are, but as they were. For instance, when we witness the flash from a lightning bolt, we are not seeing it precisely when the bolt strikes, but a tiny fraction of a

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second after, when the light from it reaches our eyes. And again, even after it disappears, the lightning bolt still exists in some sense because its light flash still exists up until the time we perceive it.

In a sense, this all means that there is a persisting aspect of the past which is being perceived in the present, and is consistent with the idea in physics that objects persist across space-time. Dr. Roll (2006) realized that a similar kind of phenomenon is reflected in retrocognition. For example, when psychics hold an object in their hands while performing psychometry, they seem to gain impressions about one or more people who have previously owned that object (Roll, 2004). In certain haunting cases, such as the Gordy case, some witnesses have reported seeing ghosts of people who once lived or worked at the allegedly haunted location. Like the sun and star examples described above, retrocognition seems to involve a persisting aspect of the past being perceived in the present, and is consistent with the idea in physics that objects persist in space-time. While this doesn’t provide a complete and detailed explanation for retrocognition, it does make it seem a little less strange or “paranormal.”

Later on, Dr. Roll became intrigued by the possibility that quantum theory might offer a way to possibly understand psi, based on the parallels that several researchers had found between ESP and the phenomenon of quantum entanglement (Jahn & Dunne, 1986; Josephson & Pallikari-Viras, 1991; Radin, 2006; Tressoldi, Storm, & Radin, 2010), and between PK and the quantum observer effect (Houtkooper, 2002; Jahn & Dunne, 1986; Schmidt, 1987; Walker, 1975). He was particularly intrigued by the work of physicist and Nobel laureate Brian Josephson (2002), who has been making efforts to formulate the basis for a theory that recognizes the parallels between quantum mechanics and biological systems. Dr. Roll felt that this kind of theory might one day provide a foundation for understanding psi.

Incidentally, it is perhaps intriguing that some recent studies have found evidence to suggest that a few biological organisms (such as certain kinds of bacteria and marine algae) may make use of certain kinds of quantum mechanical processes. So far, this evidence has been taken seriously enough to merit full-length articles in mainstream science magazines such as Discover (Anderson, 2009) and Scientific American (Vedral, 2011). If further evidence is found along these lines, then perhaps a wider and more in-depth exploration of a possible “quantum biology” may eventually be warranted.

Dr. Roll was also intrigued by the theoretical possibilities offered by neuroscience, based on the brain studies that he and others had conducted with the psychic Sean Harribance (e.g., Alexander et al., 1998; Morris et al., 1972; Roll et al., 2002). These studies suggested that Harribance’s successful performance on ESP tests tends to be associated with brain wave activity in the alpha range (8 to 12 Hertz, often associated with a state of relaxed awareness), and that structural changes along the right side of Harribance’s brain may be linked in some way with his reported psychic abilities.

Having some background knowledge in neuroscience, I performed a broader survey of the literature and examined several brain-related studies of ESP that had been conducted since the early 1950s. Rather than being

John Palmer, Frank Auman, and Jerry Conser (L to R)

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“above and beyond” the workings of the brain, the results of these studies indicated that ESP does show some correlates with various kinds of brain activity. My survey, along with Dr. Roll’s examination of the work from the perspective of quantum theory, eventually culminated in a detailed treatise by the two of us, a shorter version of which was published in the recent anthology Mysterious Minds (Roll & Williams, 2010).

Dr. Roll had told me several times that his greatest hope was to eventually publish a book based on our treatise. He had just started writing the first few chapters of the book when, in October of 2010, he began suffering serious health issues which greatly compromised his mobility and his ability to speak, and which required him to receive care in a nursing home. Although he had coped well with these issues and remained content, his physical limitations no longer allowed him to work on the book. But his life-long passion for parapsychology did not falter. He did his best to grant a brief interview to one female researcher who had paid him a visit, and with the assistance of his family, he was able to lend an attentive ear to my effort to fulfill his hope of completing the book, offering as much of his personal input as he could. Unfortunately, fulfilling this hope was just not to be, as Dr. Roll passed away only a few months after I had taken up the book project again in his stead. Through it all, he remained dedicated until the very end.

The Value of a Mentor

In mid-2007, the prominent mainstream journal Nature published a feature article which looked at some of the characteristics that are thought to be a part of good scientific mentoring (Lee, Dennis, & Campbell, 2007). Judging from my various interactions with him over the past eight years, it seems clear to me that Dr. Roll possessed several of these valued characteristics. Some of them include the following:

Enthusiasm: As indicated, Dr. Roll kept his passion for parapsychology throughout his life and remained dedicated to the pursuit of understanding psi until the very end. When it comes to a challenging and often controversial field like parapsychology, this characteristic is especially admirable, as it can instill inspiration for the next generation of researchers. In the long run, this can help preserve the field and keep it going.

Support for Other Than One’s Own: One person wrote in the Nature article about his or her mentor:

M [the mentor] is just as diligent in fostering the careers of people who he thinks can advance science as he is at fostering his own students. This action is consistent with a motive that goes beyond mere ego and represents service to the advancement of science. (Lee et al., 2007, p. 792)

William G. (Bill) Roll, III, and his wife, Jennifer Hinsman

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And indeed, in addition to being very supportive and encouraging of my own efforts, Dr. Roll has also expressed encouragement and motivation to many other students and researchers within and outside the field, so the positive effects of his influence were always far-reaching.

Balancing Direction: A PhD student wrote in the Nature article about his or her mentor:

His advice was almost always given in the form of suggestions, so that we were able to digest them and form our own judgment about their worth. With hindsight I recognize this as a deliberate strategy designed to encourage independence of thought and critical thinking. As a PhD student, M [the mentor] made me feel like his collaborator. (Lee et al., 2007, p. 793)

Such a passage also seems to fit Dr. Roll rather well, when it came to our joint writing projects and his guidance as a teacher. Almost always, he expressed his ideas to me in a way that allowed me to weight their value and form my own opinion about them. Moreover, he indicated to me several times that he valued my opinion, as well. Although I always thought of myself as his student, he certainly never treated me like one. Like the PhD student with his mentor, Dr. Roll always made me feel like his collaborator. The latter also ties in with the characteristic of respect, which Dr. Roll always expressed to everyone who came in his presence.

Being Widely Read and Widely Receptive: Another person wrote about his or her mentor in the Nature article:

For a rigorous scientist of international acclaim, I found her to be very open-minded, and she encouraged my exploration of different avenues of research, even when these fell outside her direct expertise (if need be, M [the mentor] was very willing to study new areas of enquiry in order to provide appropriate intellectual support). (Lee et al., 2007, p. 794)

In much the same manner, Dr. Roll would patiently listen to the ideas and opinions expressed by others, share his thoughts in an open manner, and encourage those he found promising. He was also widely read, being well versed not only in most of the contemporary research in parapsychology, but also the early writings of the pioneers of psychical research. When he first became intrigued by the quantum approach to psi, he had very little knowledge in the separate

Bryan Williams and William Roll

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field of quantum physics, so he took it upon himself to read as much as could of its literature to be sure that he had necessary knowledge. It just goes to show that you’re never too old to learn something new.

Criticism and Writing: In a timely fashion, Dr. Roll always provided me with constructive critiques of my writing, which have had the benefit of changing it, as well as our articles, for the better. On several occasions, these critiques were touched with a bit of his dry humor. For instance, in noting that one piece of my writing was full of jargon and much too wordy, he once suggested to me: “Try to simplify your writing in the future and make it more accessible to the Sarah Palins of the world!” (personal communication, Nov. 4, 2008)

These are but a few of the characteristics that Dr. Roll revealed to me in the time I knew him, and they might be useful to those hoping to perhaps become mentors themselves in the future. I took to heart many of the lessons he had to teach me, and for his value as a teacher and mentor, I can only say that I am proud to have been one of Dr. Roll’s students. Moreover, I also considered him to be a dear friend and was honored to serve as one of his last collaborators.

And so it gives me pleasure to express my gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Roll for everything he did for me, and for many others within and outside parapsychology. Thank you so much, Dr. Roll, from the bottom of my heart.

References

Alexander, C. H., Persinger, M. A., Roll, W. G., & Webster, D. L. (1998). EEG and SPECT data of a selected subject during psi tasks: The discovery of a neurophysiological correlate. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 41st Annual Convention, 3 – 12.

Anderson, M. (2009, February). Entangled life. Discover, pp. 58 – 63.

Barrett, W. F. (1911). Poltergeists, old and new. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 15, 377 – 412.

Braithwaite, J. J., Perez-Aquino, K., & Townsend, M. (2005). In search of magnetic anomalies associated with haunt-type experiences: Pulses and patterns in dual time-synchronized measurements. Journal of Parapsychology, 68, 255 – 288.

Houtkooper, J. M. (2002). Arguing for an observational theory of paranormal phenomena. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 16, 171 – 185.

Jahn, R. G., & Dunne, B. J. (1986). On the quantum mechanics of consciousness, with application to anomalous phenomena. Foundations of Physics, 16, 721 – 772.

Josephson, B. D. (2002). ‘Beyond quantum theory: A realist psycho-biological interpretation of reality’ revisited. BioSystems, 64, 43 – 45.

Josephson, B. D., & Pallikari-Viras, F. (1991). Biological utilization of quantum nonlocality. Foundations of Physics, 21, 197 – 207.

Lee, A., Dennis, C., & Campbell, P. (2007). Nature’s guide for mentors. Nature, 447, 791 – 797.

Morris, R. L., Roll, W. G., Klein, J., & Wheeler, G. (1972). EEG patterns and ESP results in forced-choice experiments with Lalsingh Harribance. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 66, 253 – 268.

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Persinger, M. A., & Koren, S. A. (2001). Predicting the characteristics of haunt phenomena from geomagnetic factors and brain sensitivity: Evidence from field and experimental studies. In J. Houran & R. Lange (Eds.) Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 179 – 194). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Pratt, J. G., & Roll, W. G. (1958). The Seaford disturbances. Journal of Parapsychology, 22, 79 – 124.

Price, H. H. (1940). Some philosophical questions about telepathy and clairvoyance. Philosophy, 15, 363 – 385.

Radin, D. (2006). Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. New York: Paraview Pocket Books.

Roll, W. G. (1972/2004). The Poltergeist. New York: Nelson Doubleday, Inc. (Reprinted by Paraview Special Editions)

Roll, W. G. (2004). Early studies on psychometry. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 18, 711 – 720.

Roll, W. G. (2006). The Janus Face of the Mind. Paper presented at the 25th Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration, Orem, UT, June 10.

Roll, W. G. (2007). Psychological and neuropsychological aspects of RSPK. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 50th Annual Convention,114 – 130.

Roll, W. G., Maher, M. C., & Brown, B. (1992). An investigation of reported haunting occurrences in a Japanese restaurant in Georgia. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 35th Annual Convention, 151 – 168.

Roll, W. G., & Persinger, M. A. (2001). Investigations of poltergeists and haunts: A review and interpretation. In J. Houran & R. Lange (Eds.) Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 123 – 163). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Roll, W. G., Persinger, M. A., Webster, D. L., Tiller, S. G., & Cook, C. M. (2002). Neurobehavioral and neurometabolic (SPECT) correlates of paranormal information: Involvement of the right hemisphere and its sensitivity to weak complex magnetic fields. International Journal of Neuroscience, 112, 197 – 224.

Roll, W. G., & Williams, B. J. (2010). Quantum theory, neurobiology, and parapsychology. In S. Krippner & H. L. Friedman (Eds.) Mysterious Minds: The Neurobiology of Psychics, Mediums, and Other Extraordinary People (pp. 1 – 33). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-Clio.

Schmidt, H. (1987). The strange properties of psychokinesis. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1, 103 – 118.

Tressoldi, P. E., Storm, L., & Radin, D. (2010). Extrasensory perception and quantum models of cognition. NeuroQuantology, 8, Supplement 1, S81 – S87.

Vedral, V. (2011, June). Living in a quantum world. Scientific American, 304(6), 38 – 43.

Walker, E. H. (1975). Foundations of parapsychical and parapsychological phenomena. In L. Oteri (Ed.) Proceedings of an International Conference: Quantum Physics and Parapsychology (pp. 1 – 44). New York: Parapsychology Foundation, Inc.

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Williams, B. J., & Roll, W. G. (2006). Psi, place memory, & laboratory space. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 49th Annual Convention, 248 – 258.

Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Greening, E., Stevens, P., & O’Keeffe, C. (2002). An investigation into the alleged haunting of Hampton Court Palace: Psychological variables and magnetic fields. Journal of Parapsychology, 66, 387 – 408.

Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Stevens, P., Greening, E., & O’Keeffe, C. (2003). An investigation into alleged ‘hauntings.’ British Journal of Psychology, 94, 195 – 211.

Brief Reflections on William Roll's Psi-Field Concept

Mark A. Schroll, Ph.D.

The significance of William Roll's psi-field concept deserves more attention than this brief reflection offers us, yet the best way I know to honor the memory of his life is to take a moment and recollect its importance. This remembrance echoes the concerns of parapsychological researchers as diverse as Jessica Utts, Edwin C. May, and Rhea A. White, who all agree “it is not more data we need to make the case for a field theory of consciousness and/or psi fields; it is the need for a theory of psi” (Schroll, 2010b, p. 13). According to Utts, “it is recommended that future experiments focus on understanding how this phenomenon works, and how to make it as useful as possible” (Utts, cited in Schwartz, 2005, p. 8); May concurs “that evidentiary experiments are no longer needed” (May, 2010, p. 215); and White sums up the problem as well as anyone:

When it comes to the mind, science as we have known it cannot progress very far. Where every other field leaves off is where parapsychology begins . . . What is needed is not the old but the new. Not so much new technology as a new orientation. Our subject matter is ourselves and the frontier we must penetrate and explore lives within us, both as individuals and in our species consciousness and Jung's collective unconscious. (White, 1998, p. 114).

“Jung's collective unconscious is yet another conceptual means of approaching this same problem of a nonlocal field of memory and echoes the same challenge: the need for a comprehensive theory of psi and of cosmos and consciousness” (Schroll, 2010b, p. 13). In my last correspondence with Roll, he wrote that he “looked forward to reading my article 'The Physics of Psi: An Interview with Stanley Krippner” (personal correspondence, September 4, 2009). Unfortunately, by the time this article was published and I sent it to Roll, he was too ill to respond.

The Psi-Field: A Continuing Inquiry

To the best of my knowledge and brief correspondence with Roll, he was the first to apply the field hypothesis to our understanding of psi in his article “The Psi Field” (Roll, 1964, personal correspondence September 3, 2009). Prior to this, during the 1950s the physicist and philosopher David Bohm began working out a view of physics that led to a

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breakthrough in understanding the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox (EPR). Those of us who are interested, or need additional background on the EPR Paradox, see Schroll, 2010b, pp. 4-5. Additional questions I had hoped to take up with Roll included whether or not his hypothesis of the psi field had been influenced by Bohm, and if they had ever met.

To reiterate the key points of this brief recollection:

Mentioning “remote viewing” [or clairvoyance, telepathy, precognition, psychokinesis, psychic healing—the “big five as Charles T. Tart calls them--(Tart, 2009, p. 12) creates immediate cognitive dissonance in those of us that accept psi as real because skeptics immediately ask, “how does it work?” Attempts to bolster this discussion with experimental data sounds impressive at first, yet our ability to accept “limitless mind” is not an empirical problem—but a conceptual one. Data, in other words, is auxiliary to hypothesis and theory, and Russell Targ gets right to the point as to what the conceptual problem is: we live in a non-local reality [(Targ, 2004)]. Still this leaves many of us again adrift, as we seek to relate psi and non-locality. . . .

Many of us know that modern physics currently lacks a metaphor. Psi's method of drawing impressions to provide access to symbols and non-analytical unconscious processes could provide a means to envision this metaphor. Likewise for example Jung's interpretation of Wolfgang Pauli's dream of “the world clock” that led them to develop the concept of synchronicity, and transpersonal psychology helped validate Jung. Another reason for this metaphor is that psi, Jung, and transpersonal psychology will not be properly recognized and understood until psychologists stop envisioning the human condition in terms of Newtonian physics, and begin to envision a quantum-relativistic view—all of which search for something more inclusive. Mind is no longer confined to our physical bio-chemical brains and skin encapsulated egos, but is capable of being considered as a field or morphogenetic field as Rupert Sheldrake refers to it. (Schroll, 2008, 255).

Conclusion

This kind of phenomena, this kind of energy, cannot currently be accepted within the framework of Euro-American science (Kennedy, 2011; Schroll, 2010a):

It violates the concept of action-at-a-distance: How can there be a physical manifestation of “energy” beyond what is referred to as “localized” events in physics? What is the medium, the means of transmitting this kind of energy? This is the real scientific problem of accepting these kinds of phenomena. Either you have to say that the type of energy we are talking about here has no connection to the material world (i.e., supernatural), or you have to postulate some kind of energy, some means of signal transmission that is not now known (Schroll, 2011, p. 18).

Like many others, I argue against supernatural explanations because these imply some “immaterial agency or influence that goes beyond natural laws, which raises the question of how this immaterial agency is able to influence matter (interact with our brain/body/senses)” (Schroll, 2011, p.18). This brings us back to my interest in Roll's concept of the psi-field and my continuing inquiry into the philosophical legacy of Bohm.

References

Kennedy, J. E. (2011). Information in life, consciousness, quantum physics, and paranormal phenomena. The Journal of Parapsychology, 75(1), 15-41.

May, E. C. (2010). Technical challenges for the way forward. The Journal of Parapsychology, 74(2), 211-217.

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Roll, W. G. (1964). The Psi Field. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association, 1, 1957-1964, 32-65.

Schroll, M. A. (2008). Review of Russell Targ (2004) Limitless mind: A guide to remote viewing and transformation. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 40(2), 255-256.

Schroll, M. A. (2010a). Toward a new kind of science and its methods of inquiry. Anthropology of Consciousness, 21(1), 1-29.

Schroll, M. A. (2010b). The physics of psi: An interview with Stanley Krippner. Transpersonal Psychology Review, 14(1), 3-15.

Schroll, M. A. (2011). Commentary. Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal, 2(3), 17-20. Reprinted with revisions as “Reflecting on Paranthropology” in the forthcoming Paranthropology: Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal. J. Hunter (Ed.), Bristol, UK: Paranthropology, In Press, pp. 58-66.

Schwartz, S. A. (2005). Remote viewing: The modern mental martial art. 3rd edition. Minneapolis, MN: Neomoseen.

Targ, R. (2004). Limitless mind: A guide to remote viewing and transformation of consciousness. Foreword by Jean Houston. Novato, CA: New World Library.

Tart, C. T. (2009). The end of materialism: How evidence of the paranormal is bringing science and spirit together. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

White, R. A. (1998). An alternate future for parapsychology: An editorial. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 92(2), 109-115.

Bill Roll’s 2007 Speech Given at the Rhine Center

Editor’s note: Bill Roll gave this speech at the Rhine at a 2007 reunion of the Psychical Research Foundation, and it seems fitting that we include it here in this newsletter. It shows, as Sally Rhine Feather commented, “Bill’s usual flair and humor,” and also gives us a personal take on some of the history behind parapsychology. Here is the transcript:

“My sincere thanks to Sally Feather and to the folks at the Rhine Research Center for bringing the PRF together for this party and my thanks to the many PRF workers for being here today.

Historical Overview:

A Psychical Research Fund was created by Dr. J.B. Rhine in 1960 with financial backing by Mr. Charles E. Ozanne to explore the issue of survival after death... The fund continued as the Psychical Research Foundation the following year. Dr. J.G. Pratt was appointed President, Prof. H.H. Price, my teacher at Oxford, was made Vice-President, and I became Project Director.

Mr. Ozanne was convinced about survival after death but recognized that the evidence was not strong. The PRF would hopefully fill in the gap. Dr. Rhine seemed doubtful that this would happen because the evidence from mediumship and similar efforts could be explained in terms of ESP without the aid of the departed but he was open-minded, and organized a conference on the topic that included Price, Pratt, Dr. Louisa Rhine and me.

I had made my first poltergeist investigation in 1958, well before the PFR, again through Rhine’s initiative. The senior investigator was Dr. Pratt. Dr. Pratt and I came up with the term recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis or RSPK to replace poltergeist because we thought that the phenomena were due to PK by the 12-year-old son in the family.

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Other cases followed as well as hauntings, but in haunts there was also no evidence that the minds of the departed were involved. The apparitions, the strange sense of presences, the odd smells, the drops in temperature seemed to be due to anomalous magnetic fields and their effect on the brains of the occupants. It seemed that the sites were not haunted by the spirits of the dead but by energetic fields. These fields can be dangerous to the health of occupants, humans as well as their animal pets.

In 1964 Dr. Rhine retired from Duke and moved the laboratory, library and offices just outside the walls of the Duke East Campus, the erstwhile home of the Parapsychology Laboratory. At the same time I moved the PRF to my home in Durham. Then about 1969 the PRF returned to Duke now as a sponsored program at the Duke School of Electrical Engineering.

This event was due to the Dean of EE, Dr. Alexander Vesic and resulted from our close collaboration with members of the School, particularly with Dr. Bill Joines, which has continued to this day. We rented two small houses from Duke, one for our library and offices, the other for our laboratory. A little later we acquired a third house as a center for meditation and meditation research. The focus of our work was experiments, most notably with Sean Harribance and Keith Harary. Ingo Swann visited briefly out-of-body, achieving spectacular success in a test by Jerry Solfvin and Keith Harary.

We had a wonderful research team. Aside from Jerry, there was Bob Morris, Judy Klein, John Stump, and Joanne Krieger. After the PRF, Bob became Koestler Professor at the University of Edinburgh. It takes special skill to work with psychics like Sean and Keith. If it were not for Judy and John, I don’t think the work with Sean would have succeeded.

Fritz Klein was essential to this work as well. It was he who resuscitated a comatose EEG machine from Monte Ullman that he had used for his dream-telepathy work in New York. It was with the aid of this machine that we discovered that the alpha brain wave was essential for Sean’s ESP... Bill Joines played a central role in understanding RSPK energy and Steve Baumann discovered brain processes in Tina Resch that were related to her RSPK. Ann Poole and her daughter aided the work with Tina.

Linda Fleishman, my administrative assistant—or superior—made everything happen in an orderly fashion. Frank Auman, PRF Board member, supplemented the Ozanne fund together with others. Aum is the same as the Sanskrit word om and signifies the spiritual essence of the universe. Julia Hardy was editor of our journal THETA, and Tomiko Smith, a skilled psychic inspired us, and there were others. It’s a joy for me to see so many of you here.

Then Dean Vesic, our guardian angel, died and Duke discovered that the PRF was sitting on a valuable resource--parking spaces... Our three houses were bulldozed and the land paved over. But sometimes, when the moon is full, you may see three little houses rise from the macadam.

The PRF moved to an office in the Methodist Center in Chapel Hill. It was there that we investigated the RSPK of Tina Resch.

Aside from RSPK, I have been fascinated by psychometry, the ability of some psychics to inspect past lives of the living and the dead. The famed psychometrist Noreen Renier who is here today, worked at the PRF in the early days. Noreen has now written a remarkable book, A Mind for Murder, about her work for the police and the FBI. I haven’t had much success myself in getting experimental evidence for this ability, but I’ve done the next best thing by writing reviews of the major work, including Noreen’s book.

What about survival after death? It seems clears that humans persist after death together with their houses, lands, etc. in what’s called space-time. But do these strands represent the consciousness that animate the bodies of the individuals before death? That’s more doubtful. It seem t o me that that the evidence for apparitions of the departed,

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mediumistic communications and what’s known as rebirth memories can be better understood in terms of the persistence of our past in space-time.

There’s an American Indian saying, “By our tracks you shall know us,” We have left bloody tracks not only on our own soil but in places we have no business being. We must take care that our tracks are beneficial, because they will always be there.

Where should parapsychology go? I think we should go hand-in-hand with the other sciences, especially with biology and neurophysiology. I think our field can best be characterized as the study of the biology of Psi or a bio-Psi. That’s where the facts point, as far as I know, and I’m farsighted as you can see.

Sally has spoken to me about whether the University of West Georgia might be interested in setting up Website to support parapsychology and the teaching of parapsychology. Such a website should support the work of Steve Baumann, Bill Joines, William Braud, Dick Bierman who seek to align psi with the other branches of science.

Transcendental Postscript:

Last night, Steve Baumann, Bill Joines, Jane Katra, and I spent a happy evening as the guests of Jerry Conser, the current PRF president, and his wife Delli. I have difficulty remembering names, but I recall hers by simply adding Catessen after Delli, for Delli Catessen Conser. As you can see, her name is truly fitting. She is also highly intelligent; even before meeting Jerry; she had read one of my books.

The six of us spent a highly spiritual evening together. I had two gin martinis, and everyone else also had two stiff drinks, Jerry as always finishing with Coke, of course the wet kind.

Well folks, that’s the news from the Psychical Research Foundation; where all the women are psychic; all the men are good looking; and all the children and grandchildren are above average.”

The changing face of the Rhine Research Center. The East Duke building housed the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory that was home to the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM) and the Institute for Parapsychology from 1965 to 2002. The new building on Campus Walk Avenue currently houses the Rhine Research Center.

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Studies in the Paranormal; Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Unknown Guest: a series of twelve Sri Lankan cases

S. N. ARSECULERATNE

Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka,

J. S. EDIRISINGHE

Faculty of Medicine, University of Rajarata, Sri Lanka

&

D. V. J. HARISCHANDRA

Consultant Psychiatrist, Galle, Sri Lanka

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

- Hamlet, William Shakespeare

“I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain, as a fraud.” – C. G. Jung

“It is entirely possible that behind the perception of our senses, worlds are hidden of which we are unaware.”

– Albert Einstein

Abstract

Twelve cases from Sri Lanka are reported, to bear on the mediation of an Unknown Guest to use Maurice Maeterlinck’s term; other possibilities of mediation involve, precognition, clairvoyance and discarnate entities. The data presented are from first-hand reports.

Introduction

We are using the title “The Unknown Guest” from Maeterlinck (1914), Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1911, quoted in Brian Inglis’s book Natural and Supernatural: A history of the Paranormal (1992) because we cannot clearly attribute some of the incidents that we relate below, to an identifiable or familiar entity, agency or mechanism, although some terms in current parapsychology could be applied to them. There are various interpretations that could be given as to who or what this Unknown Guest could be; it could be in the realms of conventional psychology or parapsychology (the Paranormal) or an entity that is as yet not completely understood or resolved by the methods of Modern Science or psychology, nor have any theories or paradigms been formulated as their bases, unlike in modern materialistic science.

In the event that readers are not familiar with the term “parapsychology”, it refers to the study of events that relate to obscure mechanisms that involve the mind. A broader term that includes parapsychology is the “Paranormal” that contains the more popular Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP) and Clairvoyance (included in the term General Extra-Sensory Perception GESP by Dr. J. B. Rhine – [Beloff 1993] ), and Psychokinesis (PK, also termed Telekinesis), all three of which probably are mediated by the mind and hence belong to the category of parapsychology; R. H. Thouless in Britain in 1942, proposed the term ‘psi’ as a generic term to include both ESP and PK…. “The term ’psi’ is thus the least question-begging of the various terms used to denote some paranormal function” (Beloff 1993). One of the present authors has had first-hand experiences on two (clairvoyance, and psychokinesis), while these three phenomena, (clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis) are clearly validated in the parapsychological literature.

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There are some other paranormal phenomena but to mention two of them – Retrocognition, a classic example of which was the documented, retrospective but later authenticated vision of two old ladies in the 21st century, of a scene that occurred during the French Revolution in the 18th century (North 1997), and ‘discarnate entities’ (discarnate intelligences) – a term derived from Thirty years among the Dead - Carl A. Wickland (1974), Other-side of death scientifically examined and carefully described - C. W. Leadbeater (2002), and Magic and Mysticism: Studies in Bygone Beliefs - H. S. Redgrove (2004)”, authenticated and illustrated in books by John G. Fuller (1979) The airmen who would not die , and John G. Fuller (1976) The ghost of flight 401.

In Britain, The Society for Psychical Research was formed in the late 19th century and the American Society not long after. The Parapsychological Association founded by Dr J. B. Rhine of ESP fame was accepted in 1969 “as an affiliate member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science…” (Beloff 1993). Readers who are interested in the status of ‘psi’ could read Jessica Utts’ article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (1996) An assessment of the evidence for Psychic Functioning. The events described below, therefore, can be regarded as within the ambit, though at the frontiers, of psychological science, and not as what illiterate persons, both so-called scientists or lay-people would call “mumbo-jumbo”. We should add a saddening comment; with the profusion of paranormal incidents in this country (and in South Asia as far as we know), no societies for psychical research have been established; the only attempted Society in the University of Peradeniya remains still-born.

Let us then discuss what we mean by ‘Paranormal’. Normal events in Nature are those that are amenable to modern scientific, materialistic exploration; that is they can be investigated by the methods of objective modern science, with ‘inter-subjective testability’ for replicability. Modern science is the great intellectual enterprise that resulted from The Scientific Revolution that occurred during the last three or four hundred years in Western Europe, and which gave us vaccines, penicillin, space travel and alas, the atomic bomb. We do not use that word ’Normal’ in the sense that Thomas Kuhn, in his famous book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ used the terms ‘Normal Science’ and ‘Revolutionary Science’ which meant respectively the incremental, small, piecemeal advances made by successive researchers while Revolutionary Science meant what Kuhn termed radical breakthroughs and establishment of entirely new paradigms in science; for instance Newtonian mechanics which can easily deal with the behavior of billiard balls, gave way to newer Quantum mechanics which can deal with the more elusive sub-atomic particles as an example of Revolutionary Science.

We are not entirely happy with the use of the apparently simple word “objective” (in “objective modern science” written in the preceding paragraph). Although in matters of scientific inquiry in which a dispassionate mind-set and not prior conditioning, is absolutely essential to prevent bias in twisting one’s interpretation to suit one’s prior conditioning, this is an extremely difficult stance to attain because we all have been conditioned since childhood to believe, even without firm evidence, this idea or that idea, so indulging in what Romm (1977) termed “shoe-fitting”, “…misinterpreting events to fit one’s expectations” (Child 2001). It is for that reason that the famous Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti introduced one of his lectures in Colombo in the 1950s, saying that he wished his audience would listen “with an unprejudiced mind” to what he will be saying; the commoner term for this attitude is “keeping an open mind”.

There are some mechanisms or explanations other than those included as GESP to be considered as agents of these interventions recorded here and they could also fall into the contexts of psychology and parapsychology. The present authors (except DVJH) are not psychiatrists nor psychologists (we cannot judge whether that is a qualification

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or a disqualification to write this report) but ones who have had some familiarity with events (and literature) that can be categorized as belonging to the Paranormal, and our discussion is confined within the limits of our experience.

The terms “The Unknown Guest” or the more popular “apparition” or “discarnate entity (discarnate intelligence) may be illustrated by some of the following authentic stories, though other parapsychological explanations (e.g. Precognition) are possible. Some of these incidents were related at first hand to the authors by the persons who experienced them, or were experienced by one of the authors; statements at first hand are italicized. The following is a qualitative, retrospective report of twelve cases that have a paranormal bearing and not the results of a statistically-analysed, quantitive, prospective study which we believe is difficult or impossible to achieve with the sources that we report from.

Case 1. H, while at his residence in the deep south of Sri Lanka, had a dream at 4 am in which he was told to ”go to 73”. On the following day he discussed with about twenty people what 73 could have meant. On the following morning he got a telephone call from Colombo telling him to come immediately to Ward 73. Though a doctor, he did not know of a ward 73 in any hospital in Colombo, but was later told that the Accident Ward of the General Hospital, Colombo was Ward 73. His daughter had been admitted to that Ward around 12 noon on the previous day after an accident.

Comment. Precognition through his sub-conscious, dreaming mind and not his conscious mind when awake as in many reported instances of Precognition, is a possibility. Clairvoyance of a future event is another possibility. In either event, this case is in parallel with the dreams in some of the cases (2, 3, and 5) discussed by Stevenson (1960) on the disaster of the Titanic in 1912; in the latter series, some Precognitions were specific as in his Case 2, while his Cases 3 and 5 were vague although the major event, the sinking of the ship was identified.

Case 2. H (of Case 1) was travelling to a major hospital in Colombo on the west coast. His girl-friend (later his wife) had been discussing with him the personality of man and requested him to try getting for her a book The Personality of Man. Before he reached his destination, he “had a sudden urge to get off the bus”. He had no interest in that spot or reason for him to get off the bus. On the pavement where he alighted was an itinerant seller of second-hand books. H was curious to see what books the man had for sale, and found in the vendor’s pile and bought the book named by his wife.

Comments

H was not consciously aware of the availability of this book in the vendor’s pile. Precognition is a possibility since he had the book’s name in his memory. Alternatively it could appear as if some agent (The Unknown Guest) had prompted his alighting from the bus at the very spot where the vendor was. Such an event could be termed a “Significant Coincidence”, a term used by Arthur Koestler (1972) who founded the Koestler Chair for Parasychology in the University of Edinburgh, UK.

The data on Cases 1 and 2 were confirmed from a tape-recording of H’s lecture at which he related these incidents. Is the term “a Sensitive” referring to a person who is receptive to GESP, applicable to H of Cases 1 and 2, and to E of Cases 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 below?

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Case 3. M and his wife were abroad and their son in Colombo, regularly took his sister out in the mornings to teach her to drive their car. This car was a usually reliable Honda car. On the day in question, the parents, now abroad, had listened to a television news program that reported a large bomb-explosion that had occurred near their home town’s (Colombo’s) office of the General Officer Commanding (GOC), of the Sri Lankan Army. They telephoned home and were told by their son that the television story was correct and that on that particular morning at the time of their intended driving lesson, their car had failed to start; had the car started and proceeded down that road on which the GOC’s office was situated, they would certainly have been blown-up in the bomb explosion. The terrorists of the LTTE were active at this time in Sri Lanka.

Half an hour later their car started normally as before.

Comment Their car was a reliable one which failed to start on this very day and time, just prior to the bomb-attack, and it started at the next attempt, half an hour after the failed first attempt. Psychokinesis (the performance of physical acts through mental forces) with Precognition, in the disabling of the car could be possibilities, although reported instances of Psychokinesis and Precognition were mediated by real-life persons and not by unseen hands. This case had no evidence, from the prior experiences of M, of parapsychological mediation such as Telepathy, Clairvoyance, or Precognition on the part of M or his wife, or even their son and daughter. The possibility, on the other hand, of the intervention by The Unknown Guest needs to be considered. M also stated that shortly before this incident, a daughter had passed away; he wondered whether the protective intervention of disabling of their car was mediated by the “discarnate intelligence” of their dead daughter; this might be an alternative explanation apart from an Unknown Guest.

Case 4. E was driving along a road on the right of which was a hill and on the left, a slope to a deep valley below. A woman walked across the path of the car from the valley-side that had no trees or shrubs. E braked and lowering the car’s shutter told the woman: “Amme, mokakda me keruwe?” (Lady, what did you do?) The lady did not complete crossing the road and in an instant when E looked back, she was nowhere to be seen.

At his destination, home, his mother, was in poor health. E sat with her throughout the evening; she told him about her childhood and her later life. Having said she was sure that E did not know the combination to her safe, went with him to the safe, got E to write it down, and they went back to her room and she related events in her childhood which E never knew about. At about 7 that evening, she died while holding E’s hand.

Comment. Is it possible that E’s mother was on the verge of becoming a discarnate intelligence, although the discarnate intelligence of other instances where this term was used was of a person who had already died as in the case of Don Repo, the flight engineer in John G. Fuller’s The Ghost of flight 401? The alternative possibility of The Unknown Guest may be considered.

Case 5. E (of Case 3) was sleeping at night in his campus room upstairs. He heard a ‘scraping’ sound from the balcony. He thought it was a bird. Then the fingers of a pair of hands gripping the balcony half-wall came into view as if someone was trying to climb in, though no one ever entered the balcony that way before, with a stairway available. Then E saw his hair, then his forehead and next the face grinning at him; E got up and the apparition disappeared. His face was unmistakable as it was one of E’s cousins whom E had not met for about ten years.

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That evening E received a telephone call from his sister informing him of the death of that cousin due to a sudden cerebral haemorrhage.

Comment. As in Case 3 is it possible that E’s cousin was on the verge of becoming a discarnate intelligence?

The term ‘apparition’ is perhaps applicable to the “woman who crossed the road” in Case 4 and the “face” in Case 5. In some reported instances,’apparitions’ have been of deceased persons as in the case related at first hand by Major Villiers to John G. Fuller in the latter’s The airmen who would not die, where the apparition was of a pilot who had died in a plane crash: the term “discarnate intelligence” might be more relevant to Villiers’ case.

A point of difference in Case 4 was that the “woman who crossed the road”, was not the “sensitive’s” (E’s) mother who died later, while in Case 5, the apparition was that of the “sensitive’s” (E’s) cousin who died that day.

Case 6. E (of cases 4 and 5), was at the head of a bus-queue and when the bus came, “Something” told E to refuse; “…it was a compelling thought”, he said to one of the authors. He allowed the next person to go ahead into the bus; this person, a prosperous-looking business-man who boarded the bus before E looked at E from inside the bus, invited E in and said he would keep the seat beside him vacant for him. On our way in the next bus on the same long route, we stopped at a crowd of people who were looking at a bus fallen in the shallow valley below. The business-man who beckoned me in to that bus, was leaning against a tree, with a blood-splattered shirt, waiting for transport to hospital”. (words of E are italicised)

Comment E was aware, he said, that he had the “remarkable ability to tell what people would do next or at least to guess right”; he, as much as H in Cases 1 and 2, might be termed a “Sensitive”, a person who is receptive to GESP, as used in the parapsychological literature. The “something” that told him to avoid the ill-fated bus could have been The Unknown Guest of Maurice Maeterlinck (1914) or Precognition on the part of E.

Case 7. G as a young man went with his friends to a swimming pool late one evening. A life-guard was in attendance. At the deep-end of the pool, G who wasn’t a good swimmer was in difficulties and the life-guard jumped in to help him out. The life-guard’s duties normally ended at 5 pm after which he went home but on this day he decided to remain for longer and it was after 5 pm when G’s incident occurred.

Comment. The life-guard who had made the unusual decision to remain at work after 5 pm was perhaps The Unknown Guest; he could also have had Precognition, though not a specific one, of a disaster.

Case 8. E on a trip to a Sri Lankan ruined city, stayed the night over at the state’s circuit bungalow. The driver of that vehicle “had a compelling thought” to avoid parking the vehicle at a vacant place but decided to park the vehicle further on. Very soon after, a large, roofing asbestos sheet crashed vertically on the spot which the driver avoided; it could have injured or killed the driver.

Comment. As in Case 6, the mediating agency could have been either Precognition on the part of the driver, or The Unknown Guest.

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Case 9. Related to E, by the mother of a medical student (S). S was a regular customer at a café. One day during the secessionist-terrorist campaign in Sri Lanka, S at first thought of visiting the café but “something” compelled him to avoid it. A few minutes later a terrorist bomb devastated the café, killing several people.

Comment. The mediating agency could have been either Precognition as on the part of the driver in Case 8, or The Unknown Guest that compelled him to avoid that café.

Case 10. As told to one of the authors E. E’s cousin was a staff officer at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. One morning, she was preparing to go for work at the bank but “something compelled her to stay away. She telephoned her secretary to say she would not be coming as she was ‘unwell’ (feigned). A large terrorist bomb destroyed much of the bank that morning”.

Comment. As in Cases 6, 7, 8 and 9, the mediating agency could have been either Precognition, or The Unknown Guest in Case 10 that compelled her to stay away from her office on that ill-fated morning. A specific Precognition of an impending bomb was absent.

Case 11. As told to E. A relative (R) of E took up a post at the Central Bank of Case 10. A “peon”, an assistant, who had earlier worked with R pleaded with R to get him also a place at the Bank. On the day when a terrorist bomb destroyed much of the Bank, on the same occasion as in Case 10, R was out of the office but the peon-assistant was found as a charred body; he was identified by his wrist-watch.

Comment. R’s decision to leave the building temporarily could have been due to his sub-conscious Precognition of the terrorist’s bomb or the mediation of The Unknown Guest, while the ‘peon’ who died was not a GESP ‘Sensitive’ and did not receive the message about the bomb.

Case 12. A lady-passenger on an outstation bus was unsure of where she should alight. The ”Passenger” who was seated beside her told her that he worked at the Central Bank in the country’s capital Colombo, and that she should alight at the next bus-stop. After her trip, she called the Central Bank’s division where the ‘Passenger’ said he worked, to thank him but the official at the Bank who answered her call appeared reluctant to give the telephone to the “passenger’ on the bus who had helped her. After repeating her request to talk to that “Passenger” who said he worked at the Bank, the official who answered her call, finally said that the “Passenger” no longer worked at the Bank, and that he had died some months earlier.

Comment. The dead “passenger” was more probably an example of the “Unknown Guest” who was then a “discarnate intelligence” at the time of the lady’s call to the Bank.

Discussion

Cases 7, 8, 9 and 10 could illustrate what Arthur Koestler (1972) termed Significant

Coincidences. Our Cases 6 and 7 were experienced at first hand, while Cases 8, 9, and 10 were acquired at second hand. The reason for the occurrence of three (10, 11, 12) of the twelve cases in a single institution, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, is obscure. In the eleven cases on the sinking of the Titanic discussed by Stevenson (1960), some with what we regard as Significant Coincidences, the Precognitions occurred earlier, from several years in Morgan Robertson’s novel (Case 1 of Stevenson), to just before the sinking incident. In our cases as well as in Stevenson’s cases except

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perhaps in his Experience 1, the element of inference on the possible occurrence of the subsequent events, needs to be, and can be, ruled out.

The question of ESP and Dreams, as suggested by our Case 1, has been commented on by Child (2001, p.158) who stated: “The experimental evidence suggesting that dreams may actually be influenced by ESP comes almost entirely from a research program carried out at the Maimonides Medical Centre in Brooklyn, New York. Among scientists active in parapsychology, this program is widely known and greatly respected” .

Another possible correlate of the agencies involved in perhaps all these cases is what Carl G. Jung the psychoanalyst in 1952 termed “Synchronicity: An acausal connecting principle”. Beloff (1993) commented: “Then having created this new concept, Jung, who had, of course a long-standing interest in parapsychology and had corresponded with (J. B.) Rhine, proposed that ‘psi’ phenomena, too, could be regarded as instances of synchronicity”, and that, “Synchronicity or seriality could thus provide the conceptual basis for a science of meaningful coincidences”, the “significant coincidences” of Arthur Koestler (1972). Beloff added another perspective to the parapsychological terminology in stating: “… the term synchronicity is now unlikely to disappear from the parapsychological vocabulary, if only because it fulfils a need when we are confronted by those cases which cannot be easily assimilated to ‘psi’ and yet suggest something more significant than ‘mere’ coincidence”.

In conclusion, what Beloff (1993) considered the “most poignant aspect” of Pawlowski’s (1925) account of séances with Franek Kluski 1925 was Pawlowski’s comment: “I am perfectly convinced that we are on the threshold of a new science and probably of a new era. It is impossible to reject or to deny these phenomena, and it is impossible to explain them by clever trickery. I realize perfectly that it is difficult for anyone to accept them…... To accept them would mean to change entirely our attitude towards life and death, to be obliged to revise entirely our sciences and our philosophy”. Beloff’s in his critical review of Parapsychology (1993) stated: “Of one thing we can feel reasonably sure, however, parapsychology will continue to challenge our assumptions about the world, and about what can or cannot happen therein, for a long time to come”.

In Sri Lanka, a country with a cultural heritage that comfortably accommodates the acceptance of psi-phenomena, we should feel encouraged to explore the profusion of such phenomena, noting Beloff’s (1993) comment: “… the countries that have produced the best evidence for reincarnation are precisely those countries or those communities where belief in reincarnation is a strong component of culture”, and that “Parapsychologists, on the other hand, threaten the ontological foundations of conventional science”, a worthy challenge to meet.

References

Beloff, John. 1993. Parapsychology. A concise History. The Athlone Press, London.

Child, Irvin L. 2001. Psychology and Anomalous Observations: The Question of ESP in Dreams. In: Rao, K. R. 2001 (qv).

Fuller, John G. 1976. The Ghost of Flight 401. Corgi Books, Transworld Publishers, London.

Fuller John G. 1979. The airmen who would not die. Book Club Associates, London.

Inglis, Brian. 1992. Natural and Supernatural: A history of the paranormal. Prism Unity, Dorset.

Jung, Carl G. 1955. The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche. Routledge, London. (English edition) - An English version of Jung’s 1952 book Complete works of C. G. Jung: Routledge & Kegan Paul, London).

Koestler, Arthur. 1972. The Roots of Coincidence. Hutchinson, London.

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Leadbeater, C. W. 2002. Other side of death scientifically examined and carefully described. Kessinger Publishing LLC. The Citadel Press

Maeterlinck, M. K. 1914. The Unknown Guest. London.

North, Anthony. 1997. The Paranormal. A guide to the Unexplained. Blandford, London.

Pawlowski, F. W. 1925. The mediumship of Franek Kluski of Warsaw. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 19: 482 – 504.

Rao, K. Ramakrishna. 2001. Basic research in Parapsychology. 2nd ed. McFarland & Co. Inc, North Carolina, USA.

Redgrove, H. S. 2004. Magic and Mysticism: Studies in Bygone Beliefs. Kessinger Publishing LLC. The Citadel Press

Romm, E. G. 1977. When you give a closet occultist a PhD, what kind of research can you expect? The Humanist, 37(3), 12 - 15.

Stevenson, Ian. 1960. A Review and Analysis of Paranormal Experiences Connected with the Sinking of the Titanic. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 54: 153 – 171.

Utts, Jessica. 1996. An assessment of the evidence for psychic functioning. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10(1): 3 -30.

Wickland, Carl A. 1974. Thirty years among the Dead. Newcastle Publishing Co. Inc. NY.

Recommended reading

Alcock, James E. 1981. Parapsychology: Science or Magic? A Psychological Perspective.

Pergamon Press, Oxford. (Child, 2001 [qv] has critically reviewed Alcock’s views). Thank you for your support of the Rhine Research Center! For a list of upcoming events at the Rhine Research Center, press ctrl + click here.

THE RHINE ONLINE


The Rhine Research Center’s Quarterly Newsletter

Volume 4, Issue 2, 2012
Editor: Jennifer Moore

A Tribute to William G. Roll

Table of Contents (Press control + click to link to the title)

Letter from the editor

A Personal Tribute to William G. Roll by Bryan Williams

Brief Reflections on William Roll's Psi-Field Concept by Mark Schroll, Ph.D.

Bill Roll’s 2007 Speech Given at the Rhine Center

Studies in the Paranormal; Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Unknown Guest: a series of twelve Sri Lankan cases by S. N. Arseculeratne, et al.

University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Summer 2012

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Letter from the editor

Dear friends,

I am proud to bring you the summer, 2012, edition of the Rhine Research Center’s quarterly newsletter. In addition to our usual slate of extraordinary speakers in the past few months (Bill Bengston, Ron Papallardo, Norm Shealy, Jim Carpenter, Donna Spring Gulick, Judy Gardiner, and Joe McMoneagle) the Rhine Research Center has also hosted two notable events: the Parapsychological Association’s 55th International Convention and, along with the Psychical Research Foundation, a commemoration of the life and work of William G. (Bill) Roll, whom Sally Rhine Feather, Ph.D., says we could call "Mr. Poltergeist" as he is “an early leader in careful field investigations and survival-related research.”

This newsletter includes two articles about Bill Roll, one from Bryan Williams of the University of New Mexico, keynote speaker at the conference, who considers Roll to be one of his most important lifetime mentors. Additionally, Mark A. Schroll, Ph.D., has written an overview of Roll’s contribution to the field of psi over the years. Additionally, I have included a speech that Roll delivered at the Rhine Center in 2007 as I think it gives you an idea of his wit and expansive knowledge about the history of parapsychology.

On another note, I am pleased to share with you a most intriguing article submitted from professors in Sri Lanka. They describe twelve fascinating cases of psi occurrence and discuss various potential causes for the anomalous events. The events are the type with which the average person typically has had some sort of experience – synchronicities, a serendipitous delay that caused someone to miss a plane that later crashed, that sort of thing. It is the type of experience that keep believers interested in psi and the type that will continue to keep skeptics from ever finding “proof” against parapsychology. I know you will enjoy reading it, and the authors’ comments are enlightening.

Finally, we are looking forward to upcoming events and speakers throughout the fall. If you are in Durham in the next few months, make a note to drop by one of our upcoming events with such notable speakers as Russell Targ, Larry Burk, Susan Reintjes, Roger Nelson, and Ryan Hurd. Press control + click here for the most recent list of upcoming events.

As always, if you are interested in writing a letter to the editor as a comment about these articles or if you would like to share a psi experience, please send it as an email to Jennifer@rhine.org. I also accept article submissions at any point.

Thank you for your support of the Rhine Research Center!

- Jennifer Moore, editor

The Rhine Research Center’s Quarterly Newsletter

2741 Campus Walk Avenue, Building 500

Durham, NC 27705 * (919)309-4600

Rhine email: Office@rhine.org * Newsletter editor email: Jennifer@rhine.org Mission Statement: The Rhine Research Center explores the frontiers of consciousness and exceptional human experiences in the context of unusual and unexplained phenomena. The Rhine’s mission is to advance the science of parapsychology, to provide education and resources for the public, and to foster a community for individuals with personal and professional interest in PSI.

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A Personal Tribute to William G. Roll

Bryan Williams

I had the privilege and pleasure of working closely with Dr. William Roll for the last eight years of his life, and this experience has always been rewarding for me because Dr. Roll had played a pivotal role in my scholarly pursuit of parapsychology by being the researcher I looked up to for inspiration as a role model ever since my interest in the field was first piqued while in junior high school. To have the opportunity to directly work with and learn from the person that one respects most in his or her chosen field of study is a student’s dream come true, and I’ll always be grateful to Dr. Roll for granting me that opportunity.

It is quite likely that many people within and outside of parapsychology will remember Dr. Roll mostly for his numerous field investigations of haunts and recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK, more popularly known as “poltergeist” phenomena), and indeed when it came to these phenomena, he certainly stood among the most dedicated and quintessential of investigators. Over time, his persistent efforts in the field seemed to shed some useful light on the nature of these phenomena.

Likely stemming from long-held beliefs deeply rooted in myth and folklore, many of the anomalous occurrences reported at the sites of alleged haunts have traditionally been attributed to the actions of a discarnate spirit (i.e., a ghost), usually that of a deceased person who once lived or worked there. A striking finding to emerge from the many haunt cases investigated by Dr. Roll (see Roll & Persinger, 2001, pp. 154 – 160, for convenient summaries) is that very few cases seem to conform to this idea. Instead, Dr. Roll found that many of the occurrences were likely to have been related to the anomalous electromagnetic and geomagnetic fields that he typically found at such sites, which may have produced the occurrences through conventional physical effects and by affecting the brain activity of witnesses (op. cit., pp. 161 – 162). This was consistent with the findings obtained by several other field investigators, who also tended to find magnetic anomalies at certain haunt sites (e.g., Braithwaite, Perez-Aquino, & Townsend, 2005; Persinger & Koren, 2001, pp. 184 – 190; Wiseman et al., 2002, 2003).

Dr. Roll noticed that when witnesses reported seeing apparitions at the sites, they didn’t often resemble the classic image of a ghost – a full-bodied, animated spectral figure of a deceased human. Instead, they often took the form of ambiguous shadows, floating lights (“orbs”), or misty, indistinct shapes. In the instances where the apparitions did take a human form, they more often seemed to reflect the preoccupations of living people rather than dead ones. For instance, in a case that Dr. Roll investigated involving an allegedly haunted Japanese restaurant (Roll, Maher, & Brown, 1992), the manager of the restaurant often saw two ghosts that were also occasionally seen by his staff. One of the ghosts seemed to be a tall, slim man with a solemn and responsible demeanor, while the other appeared to be a short, obese, and intoxicated fellow with a very carefree personality. However, neither of the ghosts seemed to resemble people who were known to be dead. Instead, when they were examined closely, the two ghosts actually seemed to reflect the manager’s own personal needs, namely his need for mentorship and occasional leisure time

Loyd Auerbach (L) and John Kruth (R) at the Roll Tribute Event

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away from his strict managerial duties. On this basis, the manager considered the possibility that the two ghosts were simply psychically projected aspects of his own personality.

These findings tend to suggest that the phenomena in many haunt cases are not attributable to lingering ghosts of the dead. But in one or two rare cases, Dr. Roll did seem to find notable exceptions. In one such case that Dr. Roll had first investigated in the late 1980s, known as the “Gordy” case (summarized in Roll & Persinger, 2001, p. 160), a young girl encountered the full-bodied, animated spectral figures of two men who were known to have lived in her neighborhood many years before her family had moved there. The girl’s descriptions of these two men had closely matched their photographs, and she was able to correctly pick them out of a random collection of photographs. Try as he might, Dr. Roll was unable to find any normal way in which the girl could have learned about these two men prior to the time that her parents had verified their identities. The Gordy case is probably among Dr. Roll’s most familiar cases, as it was profiled on the popular television show Unsolved Mysteries in the early 1990s, and more recently, was the focus of the Discovery Channel show A Haunting in Georgia.

Apart from the possibility of some aspect of personality or consciousness surviving after death, haunting cases like the “Gordy” case may suggest survival of another sort. This would be survival in the sense of a persisting memory-like “imprint” or “trace” that is localized in space, and that can later be psychically perceived or “remembered” by others who occupy that space. This is what the philosopher H. H. Price (who, incidentally, was Dr. Roll’s teacher at Oxford) had called “place memory” (Price, 1940). In surveying the parapsychological literature, Dr. Roll and I had found several experiments and field studies with results that seemed suggestive of “place memory” (Williams & Roll, 2006), which offered a preliminary basis for considering this idea.

One might argue that Dr. Roll’s greatest contribution to parapsychology was the knowledge gained from his equally extensive investigations of reported RSPK or “poltergeist” phenomena (Roll, 1972/2004; Roll & Persinger, 2001, pp. 126 – 143). Such an argument would seem a bit ironic in light of the fact that Dr. Roll initially showed no interest in these phenomena at all and might not have pursued any research on them, had it not been for Dr. J. B. Rhine. After completing his studies under Professor Price at Oxford University in 1957, Dr. Roll received an invitation from Dr. Rhine to come to Duke University and join the staff of the Parapsychology Laboratory. As Dr. Roll once recalled of this period:

While at Oxford, I had heard about objects moving without tangible aid, then known as poltergeist, but had no interest in the alleged phenomenon at all. If an Oxford college had been the scene of a poltergeist outbreak, I doubt I would have bothered to stop by. As far as I was concerned, Rhine had shown the way to an understanding of psi, and this went through the door of the laboratory. But my work at Duke was not going anywhere. To my surprise, Rhine suggested that I join Dr. J. G. Pratt, the assistant director of the lab, on a poltergeist investigation. Rhine had launched me on a journey I would not otherwise have taken. (Roll, 2007, p. 114)

Sally Rhine Feather

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The results of Dr. Roll’s investigations seemed to add further support to Sir William Barrett’s (1911) early suspicions that, rather than being due to the mischievous acts of a “noisy spirit” (as the German term poltergeist implies), the frequent object movements in these cases were often associated with a living person. This was indicated by, among other things, the tendency for object movements to occur most often when that particular person was awake and present, as well as the tendency for the number of object movements to decrease as the distance between the objects and the person increased. Noting this apparent focus of object movements around a certain person, Dr. Roll and Dr. J. Gaither Pratt suggested that the movements might represent instances of large-scale PK occurring around that person, and they thus coined the term recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis as a way to label and describe them (Pratt & Roll, 1958). Often times, the person around whom the movements were focused (known as the RSPK agent) was in a situation that seemed to bring about considerable psychological tension for him or her. Once the agent was able to address and deal with this tension in a therapeutic way, the movements often vanished along with the agent’s problems.

One might also argue that Dr. Roll was one of parapsychology’s greatest theorists, and this argument would especially seem to bear out in light of his efforts during the period that I worked with him. He was particularly concerned with the fact that, although an impressive amount of experimental and spontaneous case data had been produced in support of psi phenomena, much of the mainstream scientific community was still not taking these phenomena seriously, partly for the lack of a widely accepted theory to explain them. Akin to the way that Einstein had spent the last few years of his life in search of a unified theory of physics, Dr. Roll dedicated several of his remaining years to searching for a way to bring psi phenomena closer to mainstream science. His ultimate goal in this was not necessarily to produce a detailed and fully working “unified theory” of psi, but rather to find a way in which we might begin to understand psi in light of what we have learned within mainstream science. In this way, he hoped to show that psi phenomena were not “paranormal,” but normal. There were two mainstream fields that, in Dr. Roll’s view, might shed particular light on psi: physics (especially quantum theory) and neuroscience.

Initially, Dr. Roll (2006) realized that physics held promise for understanding psi when he noticed a certain parallel between retrocognition (psychic perception of the past) and the perception of objects that are distant in space and time. For instance, when we look up at the sun, we are actually not seeing it as it is right at that moment, but rather we are seeing it as it was about eight minutes ago, because it takes that long for the sun’s light to reach Earth. In other words, we perceive the sun as existed in the past. The same goes for the stars in the night sky, but on a much longer time frame. The example that Dr. Roll liked to use to conceptualize this was looking at the photographs that the Hubble Space Telescope had taken of stars located in deep space. It is not readily apparent to us from just looking at them, but when we look at these brilliant photographs, we are actually looking far back into the past. In fact, since it can take millions of years for the light from these faraway stars to reach us, we are probably looking at them as they existed back around the time when the dinosaurs walked the Earth! What is also important for us to realize is that by the time their light reaches us, many of these stars will have long since burned out. Yet, in some sense, the stars still exist because the light from them still exists as it travels across space and time to reach us.

Even here on Earth, we may be perceiving things not as they are, but as they were. For instance, when we witness the flash from a lightning bolt, we are not seeing it precisely when the bolt strikes, but a tiny fraction of a

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second after, when the light from it reaches our eyes. And again, even after it disappears, the lightning bolt still exists in some sense because its light flash still exists up until the time we perceive it.

In a sense, this all means that there is a persisting aspect of the past which is being perceived in the present, and is consistent with the idea in physics that objects persist across space-time. Dr. Roll (2006) realized that a similar kind of phenomenon is reflected in retrocognition. For example, when psychics hold an object in their hands while performing psychometry, they seem to gain impressions about one or more people who have previously owned that object (Roll, 2004). In certain haunting cases, such as the Gordy case, some witnesses have reported seeing ghosts of people who once lived or worked at the allegedly haunted location. Like the sun and star examples described above, retrocognition seems to involve a persisting aspect of the past being perceived in the present, and is consistent with the idea in physics that objects persist in space-time. While this doesn’t provide a complete and detailed explanation for retrocognition, it does make it seem a little less strange or “paranormal.”

Later on, Dr. Roll became intrigued by the possibility that quantum theory might offer a way to possibly understand psi, based on the parallels that several researchers had found between ESP and the phenomenon of quantum entanglement (Jahn & Dunne, 1986; Josephson & Pallikari-Viras, 1991; Radin, 2006; Tressoldi, Storm, & Radin, 2010), and between PK and the quantum observer effect (Houtkooper, 2002; Jahn & Dunne, 1986; Schmidt, 1987; Walker, 1975). He was particularly intrigued by the work of physicist and Nobel laureate Brian Josephson (2002), who has been making efforts to formulate the basis for a theory that recognizes the parallels between quantum mechanics and biological systems. Dr. Roll felt that this kind of theory might one day provide a foundation for understanding psi.

Incidentally, it is perhaps intriguing that some recent studies have found evidence to suggest that a few biological organisms (such as certain kinds of bacteria and marine algae) may make use of certain kinds of quantum mechanical processes. So far, this evidence has been taken seriously enough to merit full-length articles in mainstream science magazines such as Discover (Anderson, 2009) and Scientific American (Vedral, 2011). If further evidence is found along these lines, then perhaps a wider and more in-depth exploration of a possible “quantum biology” may eventually be warranted.

Dr. Roll was also intrigued by the theoretical possibilities offered by neuroscience, based on the brain studies that he and others had conducted with the psychic Sean Harribance (e.g., Alexander et al., 1998; Morris et al., 1972; Roll et al., 2002). These studies suggested that Harribance’s successful performance on ESP tests tends to be associated with brain wave activity in the alpha range (8 to 12 Hertz, often associated with a state of relaxed awareness), and that structural changes along the right side of Harribance’s brain may be linked in some way with his reported psychic abilities.

Having some background knowledge in neuroscience, I performed a broader survey of the literature and examined several brain-related studies of ESP that had been conducted since the early 1950s. Rather than being

John Palmer, Frank Auman, and Jerry Conser (L to R)

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“above and beyond” the workings of the brain, the results of these studies indicated that ESP does show some correlates with various kinds of brain activity. My survey, along with Dr. Roll’s examination of the work from the perspective of quantum theory, eventually culminated in a detailed treatise by the two of us, a shorter version of which was published in the recent anthology Mysterious Minds (Roll & Williams, 2010).

Dr. Roll had told me several times that his greatest hope was to eventually publish a book based on our treatise. He had just started writing the first few chapters of the book when, in October of 2010, he began suffering serious health issues which greatly compromised his mobility and his ability to speak, and which required him to receive care in a nursing home. Although he had coped well with these issues and remained content, his physical limitations no longer allowed him to work on the book. But his life-long passion for parapsychology did not falter. He did his best to grant a brief interview to one female researcher who had paid him a visit, and with the assistance of his family, he was able to lend an attentive ear to my effort to fulfill his hope of completing the book, offering as much of his personal input as he could. Unfortunately, fulfilling this hope was just not to be, as Dr. Roll passed away only a few months after I had taken up the book project again in his stead. Through it all, he remained dedicated until the very end.

The Value of a Mentor

In mid-2007, the prominent mainstream journal Nature published a feature article which looked at some of the characteristics that are thought to be a part of good scientific mentoring (Lee, Dennis, & Campbell, 2007). Judging from my various interactions with him over the past eight years, it seems clear to me that Dr. Roll possessed several of these valued characteristics. Some of them include the following:

Enthusiasm: As indicated, Dr. Roll kept his passion for parapsychology throughout his life and remained dedicated to the pursuit of understanding psi until the very end. When it comes to a challenging and often controversial field like parapsychology, this characteristic is especially admirable, as it can instill inspiration for the next generation of researchers. In the long run, this can help preserve the field and keep it going.

Support for Other Than One’s Own: One person wrote in the Nature article about his or her mentor:

M [the mentor] is just as diligent in fostering the careers of people who he thinks can advance science as he is at fostering his own students. This action is consistent with a motive that goes beyond mere ego and represents service to the advancement of science. (Lee et al., 2007, p. 792)

William G. (Bill) Roll, III, and his wife, Jennifer Hinsman

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And indeed, in addition to being very supportive and encouraging of my own efforts, Dr. Roll has also expressed encouragement and motivation to many other students and researchers within and outside the field, so the positive effects of his influence were always far-reaching.

Balancing Direction: A PhD student wrote in the Nature article about his or her mentor:

His advice was almost always given in the form of suggestions, so that we were able to digest them and form our own judgment about their worth. With hindsight I recognize this as a deliberate strategy designed to encourage independence of thought and critical thinking. As a PhD student, M [the mentor] made me feel like his collaborator. (Lee et al., 2007, p. 793)

Such a passage also seems to fit Dr. Roll rather well, when it came to our joint writing projects and his guidance as a teacher. Almost always, he expressed his ideas to me in a way that allowed me to weight their value and form my own opinion about them. Moreover, he indicated to me several times that he valued my opinion, as well. Although I always thought of myself as his student, he certainly never treated me like one. Like the PhD student with his mentor, Dr. Roll always made me feel like his collaborator. The latter also ties in with the characteristic of respect, which Dr. Roll always expressed to everyone who came in his presence.

Being Widely Read and Widely Receptive: Another person wrote about his or her mentor in the Nature article:

For a rigorous scientist of international acclaim, I found her to be very open-minded, and she encouraged my exploration of different avenues of research, even when these fell outside her direct expertise (if need be, M [the mentor] was very willing to study new areas of enquiry in order to provide appropriate intellectual support). (Lee et al., 2007, p. 794)

In much the same manner, Dr. Roll would patiently listen to the ideas and opinions expressed by others, share his thoughts in an open manner, and encourage those he found promising. He was also widely read, being well versed not only in most of the contemporary research in parapsychology, but also the early writings of the pioneers of psychical research. When he first became intrigued by the quantum approach to psi, he had very little knowledge in the separate

Bryan Williams and William Roll

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field of quantum physics, so he took it upon himself to read as much as could of its literature to be sure that he had necessary knowledge. It just goes to show that you’re never too old to learn something new.

Criticism and Writing: In a timely fashion, Dr. Roll always provided me with constructive critiques of my writing, which have had the benefit of changing it, as well as our articles, for the better. On several occasions, these critiques were touched with a bit of his dry humor. For instance, in noting that one piece of my writing was full of jargon and much too wordy, he once suggested to me: “Try to simplify your writing in the future and make it more accessible to the Sarah Palins of the world!” (personal communication, Nov. 4, 2008)

These are but a few of the characteristics that Dr. Roll revealed to me in the time I knew him, and they might be useful to those hoping to perhaps become mentors themselves in the future. I took to heart many of the lessons he had to teach me, and for his value as a teacher and mentor, I can only say that I am proud to have been one of Dr. Roll’s students. Moreover, I also considered him to be a dear friend and was honored to serve as one of his last collaborators.

And so it gives me pleasure to express my gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Roll for everything he did for me, and for many others within and outside parapsychology. Thank you so much, Dr. Roll, from the bottom of my heart.

References

Alexander, C. H., Persinger, M. A., Roll, W. G., & Webster, D. L. (1998). EEG and SPECT data of a selected subject during psi tasks: The discovery of a neurophysiological correlate. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 41st Annual Convention, 3 – 12.

Anderson, M. (2009, February). Entangled life. Discover, pp. 58 – 63.

Barrett, W. F. (1911). Poltergeists, old and new. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 15, 377 – 412.

Braithwaite, J. J., Perez-Aquino, K., & Townsend, M. (2005). In search of magnetic anomalies associated with haunt-type experiences: Pulses and patterns in dual time-synchronized measurements. Journal of Parapsychology, 68, 255 – 288.

Houtkooper, J. M. (2002). Arguing for an observational theory of paranormal phenomena. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 16, 171 – 185.

Jahn, R. G., & Dunne, B. J. (1986). On the quantum mechanics of consciousness, with application to anomalous phenomena. Foundations of Physics, 16, 721 – 772.

Josephson, B. D. (2002). ‘Beyond quantum theory: A realist psycho-biological interpretation of reality’ revisited. BioSystems, 64, 43 – 45.

Josephson, B. D., & Pallikari-Viras, F. (1991). Biological utilization of quantum nonlocality. Foundations of Physics, 21, 197 – 207.

Lee, A., Dennis, C., & Campbell, P. (2007). Nature’s guide for mentors. Nature, 447, 791 – 797.

Morris, R. L., Roll, W. G., Klein, J., & Wheeler, G. (1972). EEG patterns and ESP results in forced-choice experiments with Lalsingh Harribance. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 66, 253 – 268.

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Persinger, M. A., & Koren, S. A. (2001). Predicting the characteristics of haunt phenomena from geomagnetic factors and brain sensitivity: Evidence from field and experimental studies. In J. Houran & R. Lange (Eds.) Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 179 – 194). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Pratt, J. G., & Roll, W. G. (1958). The Seaford disturbances. Journal of Parapsychology, 22, 79 – 124.

Price, H. H. (1940). Some philosophical questions about telepathy and clairvoyance. Philosophy, 15, 363 – 385.

Radin, D. (2006). Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. New York: Paraview Pocket Books.

Roll, W. G. (1972/2004). The Poltergeist. New York: Nelson Doubleday, Inc. (Reprinted by Paraview Special Editions)

Roll, W. G. (2004). Early studies on psychometry. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 18, 711 – 720.

Roll, W. G. (2006). The Janus Face of the Mind. Paper presented at the 25th Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration, Orem, UT, June 10.

Roll, W. G. (2007). Psychological and neuropsychological aspects of RSPK. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 50th Annual Convention,114 – 130.

Roll, W. G., Maher, M. C., & Brown, B. (1992). An investigation of reported haunting occurrences in a Japanese restaurant in Georgia. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 35th Annual Convention, 151 – 168.

Roll, W. G., & Persinger, M. A. (2001). Investigations of poltergeists and haunts: A review and interpretation. In J. Houran & R. Lange (Eds.) Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 123 – 163). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Roll, W. G., Persinger, M. A., Webster, D. L., Tiller, S. G., & Cook, C. M. (2002). Neurobehavioral and neurometabolic (SPECT) correlates of paranormal information: Involvement of the right hemisphere and its sensitivity to weak complex magnetic fields. International Journal of Neuroscience, 112, 197 – 224.

Roll, W. G., & Williams, B. J. (2010). Quantum theory, neurobiology, and parapsychology. In S. Krippner & H. L. Friedman (Eds.) Mysterious Minds: The Neurobiology of Psychics, Mediums, and Other Extraordinary People (pp. 1 – 33). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-Clio.

Schmidt, H. (1987). The strange properties of psychokinesis. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1, 103 – 118.

Tressoldi, P. E., Storm, L., & Radin, D. (2010). Extrasensory perception and quantum models of cognition. NeuroQuantology, 8, Supplement 1, S81 – S87.

Vedral, V. (2011, June). Living in a quantum world. Scientific American, 304(6), 38 – 43.

Walker, E. H. (1975). Foundations of parapsychical and parapsychological phenomena. In L. Oteri (Ed.) Proceedings of an International Conference: Quantum Physics and Parapsychology (pp. 1 – 44). New York: Parapsychology Foundation, Inc.

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Williams, B. J., & Roll, W. G. (2006). Psi, place memory, & laboratory space. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 49th Annual Convention, 248 – 258.

Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Greening, E., Stevens, P., & O’Keeffe, C. (2002). An investigation into the alleged haunting of Hampton Court Palace: Psychological variables and magnetic fields. Journal of Parapsychology, 66, 387 – 408.

Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Stevens, P., Greening, E., & O’Keeffe, C. (2003). An investigation into alleged ‘hauntings.’ British Journal of Psychology, 94, 195 – 211.

Brief Reflections on William Roll's Psi-Field Concept

Mark A. Schroll, Ph.D.

The significance of William Roll's psi-field concept deserves more attention than this brief reflection offers us, yet the best way I know to honor the memory of his life is to take a moment and recollect its importance. This remembrance echoes the concerns of parapsychological researchers as diverse as Jessica Utts, Edwin C. May, and Rhea A. White, who all agree “it is not more data we need to make the case for a field theory of consciousness and/or psi fields; it is the need for a theory of psi” (Schroll, 2010b, p. 13). According to Utts, “it is recommended that future experiments focus on understanding how this phenomenon works, and how to make it as useful as possible” (Utts, cited in Schwartz, 2005, p. 8); May concurs “that evidentiary experiments are no longer needed” (May, 2010, p. 215); and White sums up the problem as well as anyone:

When it comes to the mind, science as we have known it cannot progress very far. Where every other field leaves off is where parapsychology begins . . . What is needed is not the old but the new. Not so much new technology as a new orientation. Our subject matter is ourselves and the frontier we must penetrate and explore lives within us, both as individuals and in our species consciousness and Jung's collective unconscious. (White, 1998, p. 114).

“Jung's collective unconscious is yet another conceptual means of approaching this same problem of a nonlocal field of memory and echoes the same challenge: the need for a comprehensive theory of psi and of cosmos and consciousness” (Schroll, 2010b, p. 13). In my last correspondence with Roll, he wrote that he “looked forward to reading my article 'The Physics of Psi: An Interview with Stanley Krippner” (personal correspondence, September 4, 2009). Unfortunately, by the time this article was published and I sent it to Roll, he was too ill to respond.

The Psi-Field: A Continuing Inquiry

To the best of my knowledge and brief correspondence with Roll, he was the first to apply the field hypothesis to our understanding of psi in his article “The Psi Field” (Roll, 1964, personal correspondence September 3, 2009). Prior to this, during the 1950s the physicist and philosopher David Bohm began working out a view of physics that led to a

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breakthrough in understanding the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox (EPR). Those of us who are interested, or need additional background on the EPR Paradox, see Schroll, 2010b, pp. 4-5. Additional questions I had hoped to take up with Roll included whether or not his hypothesis of the psi field had been influenced by Bohm, and if they had ever met.

To reiterate the key points of this brief recollection:

Mentioning “remote viewing” [or clairvoyance, telepathy, precognition, psychokinesis, psychic healing—the “big five as Charles T. Tart calls them--(Tart, 2009, p. 12) creates immediate cognitive dissonance in those of us that accept psi as real because skeptics immediately ask, “how does it work?” Attempts to bolster this discussion with experimental data sounds impressive at first, yet our ability to accept “limitless mind” is not an empirical problem—but a conceptual one. Data, in other words, is auxiliary to hypothesis and theory, and Russell Targ gets right to the point as to what the conceptual problem is: we live in a non-local reality [(Targ, 2004)]. Still this leaves many of us again adrift, as we seek to relate psi and non-locality. . . .

Many of us know that modern physics currently lacks a metaphor. Psi's method of drawing impressions to provide access to symbols and non-analytical unconscious processes could provide a means to envision this metaphor. Likewise for example Jung's interpretation of Wolfgang Pauli's dream of “the world clock” that led them to develop the concept of synchronicity, and transpersonal psychology helped validate Jung. Another reason for this metaphor is that psi, Jung, and transpersonal psychology will not be properly recognized and understood until psychologists stop envisioning the human condition in terms of Newtonian physics, and begin to envision a quantum-relativistic view—all of which search for something more inclusive. Mind is no longer confined to our physical bio-chemical brains and skin encapsulated egos, but is capable of being considered as a field or morphogenetic field as Rupert Sheldrake refers to it. (Schroll, 2008, 255).

Conclusion

This kind of phenomena, this kind of energy, cannot currently be accepted within the framework of Euro-American science (Kennedy, 2011; Schroll, 2010a):

It violates the concept of action-at-a-distance: How can there be a physical manifestation of “energy” beyond what is referred to as “localized” events in physics? What is the medium, the means of transmitting this kind of energy? This is the real scientific problem of accepting these kinds of phenomena. Either you have to say that the type of energy we are talking about here has no connection to the material world (i.e., supernatural), or you have to postulate some kind of energy, some means of signal transmission that is not now known (Schroll, 2011, p. 18).

Like many others, I argue against supernatural explanations because these imply some “immaterial agency or influence that goes beyond natural laws, which raises the question of how this immaterial agency is able to influence matter (interact with our brain/body/senses)” (Schroll, 2011, p.18). This brings us back to my interest in Roll's concept of the psi-field and my continuing inquiry into the philosophical legacy of Bohm.

References

Kennedy, J. E. (2011). Information in life, consciousness, quantum physics, and paranormal phenomena. The Journal of Parapsychology, 75(1), 15-41.

May, E. C. (2010). Technical challenges for the way forward. The Journal of Parapsychology, 74(2), 211-217.

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Roll, W. G. (1964). The Psi Field. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association, 1, 1957-1964, 32-65.

Schroll, M. A. (2008). Review of Russell Targ (2004) Limitless mind: A guide to remote viewing and transformation. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 40(2), 255-256.

Schroll, M. A. (2010a). Toward a new kind of science and its methods of inquiry. Anthropology of Consciousness, 21(1), 1-29.

Schroll, M. A. (2010b). The physics of psi: An interview with Stanley Krippner. Transpersonal Psychology Review, 14(1), 3-15.

Schroll, M. A. (2011). Commentary. Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal, 2(3), 17-20. Reprinted with revisions as “Reflecting on Paranthropology” in the forthcoming Paranthropology: Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal. J. Hunter (Ed.), Bristol, UK: Paranthropology, In Press, pp. 58-66.

Schwartz, S. A. (2005). Remote viewing: The modern mental martial art. 3rd edition. Minneapolis, MN: Neomoseen.

Targ, R. (2004). Limitless mind: A guide to remote viewing and transformation of consciousness. Foreword by Jean Houston. Novato, CA: New World Library.

Tart, C. T. (2009). The end of materialism: How evidence of the paranormal is bringing science and spirit together. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

White, R. A. (1998). An alternate future for parapsychology: An editorial. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 92(2), 109-115.

Bill Roll’s 2007 Speech Given at the Rhine Center

Editor’s note: Bill Roll gave this speech at the Rhine at a 2007 reunion of the Psychical Research Foundation, and it seems fitting that we include it here in this newsletter. It shows, as Sally Rhine Feather commented, “Bill’s usual flair and humor,” and also gives us a personal take on some of the history behind parapsychology. Here is the transcript:

“My sincere thanks to Sally Feather and to the folks at the Rhine Research Center for bringing the PRF together for this party and my thanks to the many PRF workers for being here today.

Historical Overview:

A Psychical Research Fund was created by Dr. J.B. Rhine in 1960 with financial backing by Mr. Charles E. Ozanne to explore the issue of survival after death... The fund continued as the Psychical Research Foundation the following year. Dr. J.G. Pratt was appointed President, Prof. H.H. Price, my teacher at Oxford, was made Vice-President, and I became Project Director.

Mr. Ozanne was convinced about survival after death but recognized that the evidence was not strong. The PRF would hopefully fill in the gap. Dr. Rhine seemed doubtful that this would happen because the evidence from mediumship and similar efforts could be explained in terms of ESP without the aid of the departed but he was open-minded, and organized a conference on the topic that included Price, Pratt, Dr. Louisa Rhine and me.

I had made my first poltergeist investigation in 1958, well before the PFR, again through Rhine’s initiative. The senior investigator was Dr. Pratt. Dr. Pratt and I came up with the term recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis or RSPK to replace poltergeist because we thought that the phenomena were due to PK by the 12-year-old son in the family.

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Other cases followed as well as hauntings, but in haunts there was also no evidence that the minds of the departed were involved. The apparitions, the strange sense of presences, the odd smells, the drops in temperature seemed to be due to anomalous magnetic fields and their effect on the brains of the occupants. It seemed that the sites were not haunted by the spirits of the dead but by energetic fields. These fields can be dangerous to the health of occupants, humans as well as their animal pets.

In 1964 Dr. Rhine retired from Duke and moved the laboratory, library and offices just outside the walls of the Duke East Campus, the erstwhile home of the Parapsychology Laboratory. At the same time I moved the PRF to my home in Durham. Then about 1969 the PRF returned to Duke now as a sponsored program at the Duke School of Electrical Engineering.

This event was due to the Dean of EE, Dr. Alexander Vesic and resulted from our close collaboration with members of the School, particularly with Dr. Bill Joines, which has continued to this day. We rented two small houses from Duke, one for our library and offices, the other for our laboratory. A little later we acquired a third house as a center for meditation and meditation research. The focus of our work was experiments, most notably with Sean Harribance and Keith Harary. Ingo Swann visited briefly out-of-body, achieving spectacular success in a test by Jerry Solfvin and Keith Harary.

We had a wonderful research team. Aside from Jerry, there was Bob Morris, Judy Klein, John Stump, and Joanne Krieger. After the PRF, Bob became Koestler Professor at the University of Edinburgh. It takes special skill to work with psychics like Sean and Keith. If it were not for Judy and John, I don’t think the work with Sean would have succeeded.

Fritz Klein was essential to this work as well. It was he who resuscitated a comatose EEG machine from Monte Ullman that he had used for his dream-telepathy work in New York. It was with the aid of this machine that we discovered that the alpha brain wave was essential for Sean’s ESP... Bill Joines played a central role in understanding RSPK energy and Steve Baumann discovered brain processes in Tina Resch that were related to her RSPK. Ann Poole and her daughter aided the work with Tina.

Linda Fleishman, my administrative assistant—or superior—made everything happen in an orderly fashion. Frank Auman, PRF Board member, supplemented the Ozanne fund together with others. Aum is the same as the Sanskrit word om and signifies the spiritual essence of the universe. Julia Hardy was editor of our journal THETA, and Tomiko Smith, a skilled psychic inspired us, and there were others. It’s a joy for me to see so many of you here.

Then Dean Vesic, our guardian angel, died and Duke discovered that the PRF was sitting on a valuable resource--parking spaces... Our three houses were bulldozed and the land paved over. But sometimes, when the moon is full, you may see three little houses rise from the macadam.

The PRF moved to an office in the Methodist Center in Chapel Hill. It was there that we investigated the RSPK of Tina Resch.

Aside from RSPK, I have been fascinated by psychometry, the ability of some psychics to inspect past lives of the living and the dead. The famed psychometrist Noreen Renier who is here today, worked at the PRF in the early days. Noreen has now written a remarkable book, A Mind for Murder, about her work for the police and the FBI. I haven’t had much success myself in getting experimental evidence for this ability, but I’ve done the next best thing by writing reviews of the major work, including Noreen’s book.

What about survival after death? It seems clears that humans persist after death together with their houses, lands, etc. in what’s called space-time. But do these strands represent the consciousness that animate the bodies of the individuals before death? That’s more doubtful. It seem t o me that that the evidence for apparitions of the departed,

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mediumistic communications and what’s known as rebirth memories can be better understood in terms of the persistence of our past in space-time.

There’s an American Indian saying, “By our tracks you shall know us,” We have left bloody tracks not only on our own soil but in places we have no business being. We must take care that our tracks are beneficial, because they will always be there.

Where should parapsychology go? I think we should go hand-in-hand with the other sciences, especially with biology and neurophysiology. I think our field can best be characterized as the study of the biology of Psi or a bio-Psi. That’s where the facts point, as far as I know, and I’m farsighted as you can see.

Sally has spoken to me about whether the University of West Georgia might be interested in setting up Website to support parapsychology and the teaching of parapsychology. Such a website should support the work of Steve Baumann, Bill Joines, William Braud, Dick Bierman who seek to align psi with the other branches of science.

Transcendental Postscript:

Last night, Steve Baumann, Bill Joines, Jane Katra, and I spent a happy evening as the guests of Jerry Conser, the current PRF president, and his wife Delli. I have difficulty remembering names, but I recall hers by simply adding Catessen after Delli, for Delli Catessen Conser. As you can see, her name is truly fitting. She is also highly intelligent; even before meeting Jerry; she had read one of my books.

The six of us spent a highly spiritual evening together. I had two gin martinis, and everyone else also had two stiff drinks, Jerry as always finishing with Coke, of course the wet kind.

Well folks, that’s the news from the Psychical Research Foundation; where all the women are psychic; all the men are good looking; and all the children and grandchildren are above average.”

The changing face of the Rhine Research Center. The East Duke building housed the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory that was home to the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM) and the Institute for Parapsychology from 1965 to 2002. The new building on Campus Walk Avenue currently houses the Rhine Research Center.

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Studies in the Paranormal; Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Unknown Guest: a series of twelve Sri Lankan cases

S. N. ARSECULERATNE

Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka,

J. S. EDIRISINGHE

Faculty of Medicine, University of Rajarata, Sri Lanka

&

D. V. J. HARISCHANDRA

Consultant Psychiatrist, Galle, Sri Lanka

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

- Hamlet, William Shakespeare

“I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain, as a fraud.” – C. G. Jung

“It is entirely possible that behind the perception of our senses, worlds are hidden of which we are unaware.”

– Albert Einstein

Abstract

Twelve cases from Sri Lanka are reported, to bear on the mediation of an Unknown Guest to use Maurice Maeterlinck’s term; other possibilities of mediation involve, precognition, clairvoyance and discarnate entities. The data presented are from first-hand reports.

Introduction

We are using the title “The Unknown Guest” from Maeterlinck (1914), Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1911, quoted in Brian Inglis’s book Natural and Supernatural: A history of the Paranormal (1992) because we cannot clearly attribute some of the incidents that we relate below, to an identifiable or familiar entity, agency or mechanism, although some terms in current parapsychology could be applied to them. There are various interpretations that could be given as to who or what this Unknown Guest could be; it could be in the realms of conventional psychology or parapsychology (the Paranormal) or an entity that is as yet not completely understood or resolved by the methods of Modern Science or psychology, nor have any theories or paradigms been formulated as their bases, unlike in modern materialistic science.

In the event that readers are not familiar with the term “parapsychology”, it refers to the study of events that relate to obscure mechanisms that involve the mind. A broader term that includes parapsychology is the “Paranormal” that contains the more popular Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP) and Clairvoyance (included in the term General Extra-Sensory Perception GESP by Dr. J. B. Rhine – [Beloff 1993] ), and Psychokinesis (PK, also termed Telekinesis), all three of which probably are mediated by the mind and hence belong to the category of parapsychology; R. H. Thouless in Britain in 1942, proposed the term ‘psi’ as a generic term to include both ESP and PK…. “The term ’psi’ is thus the least question-begging of the various terms used to denote some paranormal function” (Beloff 1993). One of the present authors has had first-hand experiences on two (clairvoyance, and psychokinesis), while these three phenomena, (clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis) are clearly validated in the parapsychological literature.

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There are some other paranormal phenomena but to mention two of them – Retrocognition, a classic example of which was the documented, retrospective but later authenticated vision of two old ladies in the 21st century, of a scene that occurred during the French Revolution in the 18th century (North 1997), and ‘discarnate entities’ (discarnate intelligences) – a term derived from Thirty years among the Dead - Carl A. Wickland (1974), Other-side of death scientifically examined and carefully described - C. W. Leadbeater (2002), and Magic and Mysticism: Studies in Bygone Beliefs - H. S. Redgrove (2004)”, authenticated and illustrated in books by John G. Fuller (1979) The airmen who would not die , and John G. Fuller (1976) The ghost of flight 401.

In Britain, The Society for Psychical Research was formed in the late 19th century and the American Society not long after. The Parapsychological Association founded by Dr J. B. Rhine of ESP fame was accepted in 1969 “as an affiliate member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science…” (Beloff 1993). Readers who are interested in the status of ‘psi’ could read Jessica Utts’ article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (1996) An assessment of the evidence for Psychic Functioning. The events described below, therefore, can be regarded as within the ambit, though at the frontiers, of psychological science, and not as what illiterate persons, both so-called scientists or lay-people would call “mumbo-jumbo”. We should add a saddening comment; with the profusion of paranormal incidents in this country (and in South Asia as far as we know), no societies for psychical research have been established; the only attempted Society in the University of Peradeniya remains still-born.

Let us then discuss what we mean by ‘Paranormal’. Normal events in Nature are those that are amenable to modern scientific, materialistic exploration; that is they can be investigated by the methods of objective modern science, with ‘inter-subjective testability’ for replicability. Modern science is the great intellectual enterprise that resulted from The Scientific Revolution that occurred during the last three or four hundred years in Western Europe, and which gave us vaccines, penicillin, space travel and alas, the atomic bomb. We do not use that word ’Normal’ in the sense that Thomas Kuhn, in his famous book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ used the terms ‘Normal Science’ and ‘Revolutionary Science’ which meant respectively the incremental, small, piecemeal advances made by successive researchers while Revolutionary Science meant what Kuhn termed radical breakthroughs and establishment of entirely new paradigms in science; for instance Newtonian mechanics which can easily deal with the behavior of billiard balls, gave way to newer Quantum mechanics which can deal with the more elusive sub-atomic particles as an example of Revolutionary Science.

We are not entirely happy with the use of the apparently simple word “objective” (in “objective modern science” written in the preceding paragraph). Although in matters of scientific inquiry in which a dispassionate mind-set and not prior conditioning, is absolutely essential to prevent bias in twisting one’s interpretation to suit one’s prior conditioning, this is an extremely difficult stance to attain because we all have been conditioned since childhood to believe, even without firm evidence, this idea or that idea, so indulging in what Romm (1977) termed “shoe-fitting”, “…misinterpreting events to fit one’s expectations” (Child 2001). It is for that reason that the famous Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti introduced one of his lectures in Colombo in the 1950s, saying that he wished his audience would listen “with an unprejudiced mind” to what he will be saying; the commoner term for this attitude is “keeping an open mind”.

There are some mechanisms or explanations other than those included as GESP to be considered as agents of these interventions recorded here and they could also fall into the contexts of psychology and parapsychology. The present authors (except DVJH) are not psychiatrists nor psychologists (we cannot judge whether that is a qualification

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or a disqualification to write this report) but ones who have had some familiarity with events (and literature) that can be categorized as belonging to the Paranormal, and our discussion is confined within the limits of our experience.

The terms “The Unknown Guest” or the more popular “apparition” or “discarnate entity (discarnate intelligence) may be illustrated by some of the following authentic stories, though other parapsychological explanations (e.g. Precognition) are possible. Some of these incidents were related at first hand to the authors by the persons who experienced them, or were experienced by one of the authors; statements at first hand are italicized. The following is a qualitative, retrospective report of twelve cases that have a paranormal bearing and not the results of a statistically-analysed, quantitive, prospective study which we believe is difficult or impossible to achieve with the sources that we report from.

Case 1. H, while at his residence in the deep south of Sri Lanka, had a dream at 4 am in which he was told to ”go to 73”. On the following day he discussed with about twenty people what 73 could have meant. On the following morning he got a telephone call from Colombo telling him to come immediately to Ward 73. Though a doctor, he did not know of a ward 73 in any hospital in Colombo, but was later told that the Accident Ward of the General Hospital, Colombo was Ward 73. His daughter had been admitted to that Ward around 12 noon on the previous day after an accident.

Comment. Precognition through his sub-conscious, dreaming mind and not his conscious mind when awake as in many reported instances of Precognition, is a possibility. Clairvoyance of a future event is another possibility. In either event, this case is in parallel with the dreams in some of the cases (2, 3, and 5) discussed by Stevenson (1960) on the disaster of the Titanic in 1912; in the latter series, some Precognitions were specific as in his Case 2, while his Cases 3 and 5 were vague although the major event, the sinking of the ship was identified.

Case 2. H (of Case 1) was travelling to a major hospital in Colombo on the west coast. His girl-friend (later his wife) had been discussing with him the personality of man and requested him to try getting for her a book The Personality of Man. Before he reached his destination, he “had a sudden urge to get off the bus”. He had no interest in that spot or reason for him to get off the bus. On the pavement where he alighted was an itinerant seller of second-hand books. H was curious to see what books the man had for sale, and found in the vendor’s pile and bought the book named by his wife.

Comments

H was not consciously aware of the availability of this book in the vendor’s pile. Precognition is a possibility since he had the book’s name in his memory. Alternatively it could appear as if some agent (The Unknown Guest) had prompted his alighting from the bus at the very spot where the vendor was. Such an event could be termed a “Significant Coincidence”, a term used by Arthur Koestler (1972) who founded the Koestler Chair for Parasychology in the University of Edinburgh, UK.

The data on Cases 1 and 2 were confirmed from a tape-recording of H’s lecture at which he related these incidents. Is the term “a Sensitive” referring to a person who is receptive to GESP, applicable to H of Cases 1 and 2, and to E of Cases 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 below?

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Case 3. M and his wife were abroad and their son in Colombo, regularly took his sister out in the mornings to teach her to drive their car. This car was a usually reliable Honda car. On the day in question, the parents, now abroad, had listened to a television news program that reported a large bomb-explosion that had occurred near their home town’s (Colombo’s) office of the General Officer Commanding (GOC), of the Sri Lankan Army. They telephoned home and were told by their son that the television story was correct and that on that particular morning at the time of their intended driving lesson, their car had failed to start; had the car started and proceeded down that road on which the GOC’s office was situated, they would certainly have been blown-up in the bomb explosion. The terrorists of the LTTE were active at this time in Sri Lanka.

Half an hour later their car started normally as before.

Comment Their car was a reliable one which failed to start on this very day and time, just prior to the bomb-attack, and it started at the next attempt, half an hour after the failed first attempt. Psychokinesis (the performance of physical acts through mental forces) with Precognition, in the disabling of the car could be possibilities, although reported instances of Psychokinesis and Precognition were mediated by real-life persons and not by unseen hands. This case had no evidence, from the prior experiences of M, of parapsychological mediation such as Telepathy, Clairvoyance, or Precognition on the part of M or his wife, or even their son and daughter. The possibility, on the other hand, of the intervention by The Unknown Guest needs to be considered. M also stated that shortly before this incident, a daughter had passed away; he wondered whether the protective intervention of disabling of their car was mediated by the “discarnate intelligence” of their dead daughter; this might be an alternative explanation apart from an Unknown Guest.

Case 4. E was driving along a road on the right of which was a hill and on the left, a slope to a deep valley below. A woman walked across the path of the car from the valley-side that had no trees or shrubs. E braked and lowering the car’s shutter told the woman: “Amme, mokakda me keruwe?” (Lady, what did you do?) The lady did not complete crossing the road and in an instant when E looked back, she was nowhere to be seen.

At his destination, home, his mother, was in poor health. E sat with her throughout the evening; she told him about her childhood and her later life. Having said she was sure that E did not know the combination to her safe, went with him to the safe, got E to write it down, and they went back to her room and she related events in her childhood which E never knew about. At about 7 that evening, she died while holding E’s hand.

Comment. Is it possible that E’s mother was on the verge of becoming a discarnate intelligence, although the discarnate intelligence of other instances where this term was used was of a person who had already died as in the case of Don Repo, the flight engineer in John G. Fuller’s The Ghost of flight 401? The alternative possibility of The Unknown Guest may be considered.

Case 5. E (of Case 3) was sleeping at night in his campus room upstairs. He heard a ‘scraping’ sound from the balcony. He thought it was a bird. Then the fingers of a pair of hands gripping the balcony half-wall came into view as if someone was trying to climb in, though no one ever entered the balcony that way before, with a stairway available. Then E saw his hair, then his forehead and next the face grinning at him; E got up and the apparition disappeared. His face was unmistakable as it was one of E’s cousins whom E had not met for about ten years.

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That evening E received a telephone call from his sister informing him of the death of that cousin due to a sudden cerebral haemorrhage.

Comment. As in Case 3 is it possible that E’s cousin was on the verge of becoming a discarnate intelligence?

The term ‘apparition’ is perhaps applicable to the “woman who crossed the road” in Case 4 and the “face” in Case 5. In some reported instances,’apparitions’ have been of deceased persons as in the case related at first hand by Major Villiers to John G. Fuller in the latter’s The airmen who would not die, where the apparition was of a pilot who had died in a plane crash: the term “discarnate intelligence” might be more relevant to Villiers’ case.

A point of difference in Case 4 was that the “woman who crossed the road”, was not the “sensitive’s” (E’s) mother who died later, while in Case 5, the apparition was that of the “sensitive’s” (E’s) cousin who died that day.

Case 6. E (of cases 4 and 5), was at the head of a bus-queue and when the bus came, “Something” told E to refuse; “…it was a compelling thought”, he said to one of the authors. He allowed the next person to go ahead into the bus; this person, a prosperous-looking business-man who boarded the bus before E looked at E from inside the bus, invited E in and said he would keep the seat beside him vacant for him. On our way in the next bus on the same long route, we stopped at a crowd of people who were looking at a bus fallen in the shallow valley below. The business-man who beckoned me in to that bus, was leaning against a tree, with a blood-splattered shirt, waiting for transport to hospital”. (words of E are italicised)

Comment E was aware, he said, that he had the “remarkable ability to tell what people would do next or at least to guess right”; he, as much as H in Cases 1 and 2, might be termed a “Sensitive”, a person who is receptive to GESP, as used in the parapsychological literature. The “something” that told him to avoid the ill-fated bus could have been The Unknown Guest of Maurice Maeterlinck (1914) or Precognition on the part of E.

Case 7. G as a young man went with his friends to a swimming pool late one evening. A life-guard was in attendance. At the deep-end of the pool, G who wasn’t a good swimmer was in difficulties and the life-guard jumped in to help him out. The life-guard’s duties normally ended at 5 pm after which he went home but on this day he decided to remain for longer and it was after 5 pm when G’s incident occurred.

Comment. The life-guard who had made the unusual decision to remain at work after 5 pm was perhaps The Unknown Guest; he could also have had Precognition, though not a specific one, of a disaster.

Case 8. E on a trip to a Sri Lankan ruined city, stayed the night over at the state’s circuit bungalow. The driver of that vehicle “had a compelling thought” to avoid parking the vehicle at a vacant place but decided to park the vehicle further on. Very soon after, a large, roofing asbestos sheet crashed vertically on the spot which the driver avoided; it could have injured or killed the driver.

Comment. As in Case 6, the mediating agency could have been either Precognition on the part of the driver, or The Unknown Guest.

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Case 9. Related to E, by the mother of a medical student (S). S was a regular customer at a café. One day during the secessionist-terrorist campaign in Sri Lanka, S at first thought of visiting the café but “something” compelled him to avoid it. A few minutes later a terrorist bomb devastated the café, killing several people.

Comment. The mediating agency could have been either Precognition as on the part of the driver in Case 8, or The Unknown Guest that compelled him to avoid that café.

Case 10. As told to one of the authors E. E’s cousin was a staff officer at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. One morning, she was preparing to go for work at the bank but “something compelled her to stay away. She telephoned her secretary to say she would not be coming as she was ‘unwell’ (feigned). A large terrorist bomb destroyed much of the bank that morning”.

Comment. As in Cases 6, 7, 8 and 9, the mediating agency could have been either Precognition, or The Unknown Guest in Case 10 that compelled her to stay away from her office on that ill-fated morning. A specific Precognition of an impending bomb was absent.

Case 11. As told to E. A relative (R) of E took up a post at the Central Bank of Case 10. A “peon”, an assistant, who had earlier worked with R pleaded with R to get him also a place at the Bank. On the day when a terrorist bomb destroyed much of the Bank, on the same occasion as in Case 10, R was out of the office but the peon-assistant was found as a charred body; he was identified by his wrist-watch.

Comment. R’s decision to leave the building temporarily could have been due to his sub-conscious Precognition of the terrorist’s bomb or the mediation of The Unknown Guest, while the ‘peon’ who died was not a GESP ‘Sensitive’ and did not receive the message about the bomb.

Case 12. A lady-passenger on an outstation bus was unsure of where she should alight. The ”Passenger” who was seated beside her told her that he worked at the Central Bank in the country’s capital Colombo, and that she should alight at the next bus-stop. After her trip, she called the Central Bank’s division where the ‘Passenger’ said he worked, to thank him but the official at the Bank who answered her call appeared reluctant to give the telephone to the “passenger’ on the bus who had helped her. After repeating her request to talk to that “Passenger” who said he worked at the Bank, the official who answered her call, finally said that the “Passenger” no longer worked at the Bank, and that he had died some months earlier.

Comment. The dead “passenger” was more probably an example of the “Unknown Guest” who was then a “discarnate intelligence” at the time of the lady’s call to the Bank.

Discussion

Cases 7, 8, 9 and 10 could illustrate what Arthur Koestler (1972) termed Significant

Coincidences. Our Cases 6 and 7 were experienced at first hand, while Cases 8, 9, and 10 were acquired at second hand. The reason for the occurrence of three (10, 11, 12) of the twelve cases in a single institution, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, is obscure. In the eleven cases on the sinking of the Titanic discussed by Stevenson (1960), some with what we regard as Significant Coincidences, the Precognitions occurred earlier, from several years in Morgan Robertson’s novel (Case 1 of Stevenson), to just before the sinking incident. In our cases as well as in Stevenson’s cases except

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perhaps in his Experience 1, the element of inference on the possible occurrence of the subsequent events, needs to be, and can be, ruled out.

The question of ESP and Dreams, as suggested by our Case 1, has been commented on by Child (2001, p.158) who stated: “The experimental evidence suggesting that dreams may actually be influenced by ESP comes almost entirely from a research program carried out at the Maimonides Medical Centre in Brooklyn, New York. Among scientists active in parapsychology, this program is widely known and greatly respected” .

Another possible correlate of the agencies involved in perhaps all these cases is what Carl G. Jung the psychoanalyst in 1952 termed “Synchronicity: An acausal connecting principle”. Beloff (1993) commented: “Then having created this new concept, Jung, who had, of course a long-standing interest in parapsychology and had corresponded with (J. B.) Rhine, proposed that ‘psi’ phenomena, too, could be regarded as instances of synchronicity”, and that, “Synchronicity or seriality could thus provide the conceptual basis for a science of meaningful coincidences”, the “significant coincidences” of Arthur Koestler (1972). Beloff added another perspective to the parapsychological terminology in stating: “… the term synchronicity is now unlikely to disappear from the parapsychological vocabulary, if only because it fulfils a need when we are confronted by those cases which cannot be easily assimilated to ‘psi’ and yet suggest something more significant than ‘mere’ coincidence”.

In conclusion, what Beloff (1993) considered the “most poignant aspect” of Pawlowski’s (1925) account of séances with Franek Kluski 1925 was Pawlowski’s comment: “I am perfectly convinced that we are on the threshold of a new science and probably of a new era. It is impossible to reject or to deny these phenomena, and it is impossible to explain them by clever trickery. I realize perfectly that it is difficult for anyone to accept them…... To accept them would mean to change entirely our attitude towards life and death, to be obliged to revise entirely our sciences and our philosophy”. Beloff’s in his critical review of Parapsychology (1993) stated: “Of one thing we can feel reasonably sure, however, parapsychology will continue to challenge our assumptions about the world, and about what can or cannot happen therein, for a long time to come”.

In Sri Lanka, a country with a cultural heritage that comfortably accommodates the acceptance of psi-phenomena, we should feel encouraged to explore the profusion of such phenomena, noting Beloff’s (1993) comment: “… the countries that have produced the best evidence for reincarnation are precisely those countries or those communities where belief in reincarnation is a strong component of culture”, and that “Parapsychologists, on the other hand, threaten the ontological foundations of conventional science”, a worthy challenge to meet.

References

Beloff, John. 1993. Parapsychology. A concise History. The Athlone Press, London.

Child, Irvin L. 2001. Psychology and Anomalous Observations: The Question of ESP in Dreams. In: Rao, K. R. 2001 (qv).

Fuller, John G. 1976. The Ghost of Flight 401. Corgi Books, Transworld Publishers, London.

Fuller John G. 1979. The airmen who would not die. Book Club Associates, London.

Inglis, Brian. 1992. Natural and Supernatural: A history of the paranormal. Prism Unity, Dorset.

Jung, Carl G. 1955. The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche. Routledge, London. (English edition) - An English version of Jung’s 1952 book Complete works of C. G. Jung: Routledge & Kegan Paul, London).

Koestler, Arthur. 1972. The Roots of Coincidence. Hutchinson, London.

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Leadbeater, C. W. 2002. Other side of death scientifically examined and carefully described. Kessinger Publishing LLC. The Citadel Press

Maeterlinck, M. K. 1914. The Unknown Guest. London.

North, Anthony. 1997. The Paranormal. A guide to the Unexplained. Blandford, London.

Pawlowski, F. W. 1925. The mediumship of Franek Kluski of Warsaw. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 19: 482 – 504.

Rao, K. Ramakrishna. 2001. Basic research in Parapsychology. 2nd ed. McFarland & Co. Inc, North Carolina, USA.

Redgrove, H. S. 2004. Magic and Mysticism: Studies in Bygone Beliefs. Kessinger Publishing LLC. The Citadel Press

Romm, E. G. 1977. When you give a closet occultist a PhD, what kind of research can you expect? The Humanist, 37(3), 12 - 15.

Stevenson, Ian. 1960. A Review and Analysis of Paranormal Experiences Connected with the Sinking of the Titanic. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 54: 153 – 171.

Utts, Jessica. 1996. An assessment of the evidence for psychic functioning. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10(1): 3 -30.

Wickland, Carl A. 1974. Thirty years among the Dead. Newcastle Publishing Co. Inc. NY.

Recommended reading

Alcock, James E. 1981. Parapsychology: Science or Magic? A Psychological Perspective.

Pergamon Press, Oxford. (Child, 2001 [qv] has critically reviewed Alcock’s views). Thank you for your support of the Rhine Research Center! For a list of upcoming events at the Rhine Research Center, press ctrl + click here.

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