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Robert McLuhan
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I’ve taken a break from blogging because I haven’t felt the urge to write for a while. But just now I’m intrigued by the row about British water companies using ‘divining’ techniques. It’s the kind of thing that interests me: an example of the great gulf that exists between science and experience – or theory and practice – in matters of this kind. It started when a couple in the Midlands needed to identify the path of the mains pipes... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2017 at Paranormalia
Regular readers know Bruce Siegel, who’s often commented here and in other forums. He guest posted here a few years back, about how he shifted from being a militant skeptic to a belief in psi and afterlife. Now he’s written a book about precognitive dreaming, which he’s kindly sent me, Dreaming the Future: How Our Dreams Prove Psychic Ability is Real, And Why It Matters. It’s written in the chatty accessible style that’s more common with ‘how-to’ teaching books than... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2017 at Paranormalia
A new book has just been published in on ‘psychic spying’. It’s by Annie Jacobsen, author of best-selling books about the secret doings of the US military based on declassified documents, including Operation Paperclip and The Pentagon’s Brain, for which she was a Pulitzer prize finalist. This one is titled Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government's Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis. It contains a lot about the Star Gate remote viewing program, which is now likely to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at Paranormalia
I’m in touch with a Chinese professor of physics who’s written an entry for the Psi Encyclopedia on parapsychology in China. His English is quite limited, and the article needs a fair bit of work. But it contains some rather remarkable claims about work with children, which I’m keen to find out more about. In one project, he writes, blind children were taught to ‘distinguish different colours by touch on the nose or ear, and even recognize the outlines of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2017 at Paranormalia
It seems to me that a lot of people in the spirituality business positively embrace the idea that mind and matter are intimately related. In principle, I go along with that. In practice, though, I’m bound to say that my ideas about the relationship between mind and the external world are quite conflicted. At the end of a busy day last week, I thought I’d squeeze in an hour clearing up loose ends on the Psi Encylopedia. One chore was... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2017 at Paranormalia
There’s quite a bit of new activity in the reincarnation research category of the Psi Encyclopedia. This piece by Jim Matlock discusses patterns that can be found in the research. Karen Wehrstein has contributed an entry on adult memories, and another on claims to have lived as a famous person. There’s also a fascinating case study about detailed memories of a life as a sixteenth century Spanish woman, written by Stephen Braude, who for once finds it quite impressive, even... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2017 at Paranormalia
The Psi Encyclopedia needs an entry on telepathy, and since I couldn’t immediately think of someone to write it, I thought I’d have a go myself. So I’ve been having a look through the literature. One particularly interesting read is Rupert Sheldrake’s Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals. I bought it when it came out in 1999 but it got ‘borrowed’ (I can’t complain, I’m a terrible borrower of other people’s... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2017 at Paranormalia
Uri Geller is back in the news, which will please him. His name stands out in the CIA’s mass online release of classified documents last week, relating to the testing of him by Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff at Stanford Research Institute in 1972-3, and I’m interested to see how the media is reacting. In fact there's nothing particularly new here. The documents themselves were declassified some time ago – it’s just that they’ve been placed online where they can... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2017 at Paranormalia
This article in the New York Times ‘Stone’ column got my attention. It’s by science writer Robert Wright, whose 1996 book The Moral Animal I rather admired, while not agreeing with all its ideas. Wright starts by quoting from an (unpublished) video interview he made years ago with William Hamilton, the Oxford evolutionary biologist whose theory of kin selection helped make the field so influential. At one point Hamilton mentions casually that he’s open to the idea that evolution might... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2017 at Paranormalia
At parapsychology events I sometimes come across Erlendur Haraldsson, the distinguished Icelandic psychology professor and psi investigator who, among many other topics, published a study of Satya Sai Baba (with Karlis Osis). I’m trying to get him to contribute an article for the Psi Encyclopedia on the Icelandic medium Indridi Indridason. I’m sure he will eventually, but in the meantime, here’s a look at his book on the subject that came out last year (co-written by Loftur Gissurarson). Indridi was... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2016 at Paranormalia
A couple of people have spoken to me about a review I wrote last year for the SPR Journal, on a book purporting to debunk afterlife claims. I thought I’d give it a more general airing. The book is titled The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case Against Life After Death, and is a collection of essays aiming to demolish arguments for survival of consciousness after death. It’s edited by Michael Martin and Keith Augustine and published by Rowman and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2016 at Paranormalia
Regular readers know I like to poke around and see what’s afoot in the media at this time of year. Mostly I found only a lot of rather boring short articles providing ‘scientific’ explanations for ghosts, from the likes of Joe Nickell. This one made me laugh: Shane Rogers and his team from Clarkson University in the US observed similarities between paranormal experiences and the hallucinogenic effects of fungal spores. This may explain why ghost sightings often occur in older... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2016 at Paranormalia
Here’s a philosopher who’s attracting interest in psi research circles. He’s Jason Reza Jorjani, half-Iranian by birth and professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he teaches on science, technology and society. The Parapsychological Association has reviewed his book Prometheus and Atlas, commending ‘his scholarship, his breadth, his commitment to the problem of the place of the supernatural in our thinking, his jazzy and spunky but serious style’. Jeffrey Mishlove has interviewed him three times on New Thinking Allowed.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2016 at Paranormalia
I do a lot of Web reading these days on my iPhone, an ideal way to fill otherwise wasted moments on trains and buses, standing in line in supermarkets, etc. So I thought it was more than time to give Paranormalia a facelift and make it responsive to smaller screens. Easier said than done. Eight years ago there didn’t seem much to choose between Wordpress and Typepad. So I chose Typepad. Now Wordpress rules the world, and Typepad… is still... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2016 at Paranormalia
Here’s an intriguing case of the reincarnation type reported in an Indian national news site. It concerns two 15 year old cousins who lived next to each other, and who accidentally drowned while playing near a pond in 2010. Recently, two twin boys aged five turned up on the doorstep of the two families claiming to be the cousins reborn. The families now accept this, as the twins recognised family members and accurately answered questions about the cousins’ past life.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2016 at Paranormalia
As editor of the Psi Encyclopedia, I’ve been taken to task for an article there about Patience Worth, authored by philosopher Stephen Braude from a chapter in his book Immortal Remains. Braude ends by echoing an earlier commentator’s conclusion that, it is…safer to credit “Patience Worth” to the unconscious and to classify her, officially, as Mrs. Curran’s “secondary self”. The complaints seem to be twofold: that this conjecture is unwarranted, and that the encyclopedia is imitating Wikipedia by giving a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2016 at Paranormalia
As some readers will know already, the Psi Encyclopedia is now online! The address is It can also be reached by or Michael Prescott kindly introduced it here In response to some early comments on his blog, I’ve discussed the question of bias, and the extent to which sceptical material is, or should be, included in articles. I expect there’ll be some changes in response to feedback, at some point. Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2016 at Paranormalia
By chance, back in September, I found myself watching the second Republican presidential candidates’ debate, and had nightmares for a week, so Halloween came early for me. But now here it is for real, and I’m on the lookout for ghost stories in the media. Simon (X-Factor) Cowell is milking an alleged ghost sighting during filming in a house in France. Enough said. A piece of more or less serious reporting is found in the New York Times, which says:... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2015 at Paranormalia
A few people have gently chided me for my absence, which I too regret, but can’t do much about. We’ve talked a lot here about the problems facing psi research, and there comes a time when it’s more important to do something that just talk. Which unfortunately doesn’t leave much time for thinking – the essential precursor to talking. But I appreciate being reminded to get back into the groove, as we old hippies say. Regular readers will like to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2015 at Paranormalia
Robert here, still too busy with the new encyclopedia to write for the blog, alas, but looking forward to getting back in touch as soon as my new duties permit. In the meantime I’ve heard from Henry ‘Rabbitdawg’ Brand, who has an interesting tale to tell, and in fact just the kind of thing that should interest Paranormalia readers. Thanks, Dawg. This is something I tripped across on an NPR radio show called Snap Judgement. It involved the discovery of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2015 at Paranormalia
Paranormalia readers will enjoy the Skeptical About Skeptics website, which has just launched. There’s a lot of background about the various luminaries in the skeptic movement, along with critical articles that have been written about them and their doings over the years. The most heavily featured seems to be Michael Shermer, with ten articles (compared with six about Richard Wiseman and eight about James Randi). I thought that interesting, especially having recently read the article in Scientific American, in which... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2014 at Paranormalia
I 'll be posting here soon, but in the meantime here’s Henry Brand, aka our own Rabbitdawg, with a review of a new book on NDE-type experiences. Thanks, Dawg! I don't know if you're familiar with an influential Black Power poet from the early 1970's named Gil Scott-Heron, but he was famous during his day for his poem/song The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Today, it would be considered soft Jazz rap, and I kinda like it, but Scott-Heron's point... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2014 at Paranormalia
I mentioned these two projects in a recent post. A crowd funding appeal is now underway for ISHAR, the Integrative Studies Historical Archive and Repository, and although still ‘under construction, the Open Sciences web portal has quite a lot of stuff to poke around in. According to its website, also still under construction, ISHAR is a project created by the mind/body community to provide a ‘world-collection of cultural and scientific knowledge, research and discussion with an emphasis on integrative medicine... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at Paranormalia
At the weekend I drove up to Northamptonshire to interview Jenny Cockell, author of Yesterday’s Children. She turned out to be a delightful lady, and very forthcoming about her experiences - as one might expect from the author of three books. Yesterday’s Children describes her memories of having been Mary Sutton, the mother of several children in a village north of Dublin and her successful efforts to trace the family. Past Lives Future Lives describes the life of a Japanese... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2014 at Paranormalia
The reason I haven’t posted until recently is that I’ve been busy getting the SPR’s online encyclopedia going – as I’m sure regular readers understand. At least that’s the story I’ve been telling myself. The truth is that I did manage to find pockets of time for writing blog posts, but nothing came out. I’d sit down, wanting to share some dazzling insight, and ... zilch. Couldn’t get my thoughts together. It was like being fifteen again, sucking my pen... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2014 at Paranormalia