Monday, February 26, 2007

New Podcast from Skeptiko

Join host Alex Tsakiris when he interviews research scientist and Vice President of Research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Dr. Marilyn Schlitz about her journey as a researcher in parapsychology, complementary medicine and anthropology. During the hour-long interview Schlitz distinguishes between her beliefs and those within the controversial areas she winds up studying: “I don’t necessarily believe all the things that I study. I believe anything that’s an aspect of human experience is valid to study, and there are some areas that have greater potential for breakthrough.”

She also explains how controversial science research remains a taboo subject with many of her peers: “Where people really get animated is in the unofficial domains of after-hours. Either they admit to having some kind of experience they don’t want to admit to publicly, or they just get irrational. I’ve had people spitting in my face because they were so angry with the idea that we could do science on parapsychology.”

The interview is available for immediate free download at:

About Skeptiko
Skeptiko is the first scientifically oriented Podcast exploring new research in controversial areas of science such as telepathy, psi, parapsychology, near-death-experience, reincarnation, and afterlife encounters. Each episode features open, honest debate on new scientific discoveries. The show includes interviews with top research scientists and their critics.

Dr. Rhea A. White

Dr. (Hon.) Rhea A. White passed away gently on Saturday morning, February 24, 2007. She inspired so many people during her long career in parapsychology and exceptional human experience that she is already sorely missed.

Rhea was planning to become a golf pro in her early years. While at Penn State, she had a Near-Death Experience that completely turned around her life. She studied everything she could that came even close to her experience and was accepted to work with J.B. and Louisa Rhine at the Duke Lab. She enjoyed many hours discussing the field with them and their colleagues. Carl Jung's works also made a big impact on her life.

She received her Master's in Library Science and while a Librarian for the East Meadow Public Library in New York, she worked as Editor for several journals in the field. Rhea is in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, Who's Who of American Women, and Who's Who in Science and Engineering. She mentored numerous people during her vibrant career and at the time of her death was Editor-in-Chief of the JASPR, and Founder and President of the Exceptional Human Experience Network. Her vita spans thirteen pages. A tributes' page to Rhea has been started at the EHE Network website,

For those who would like to remember Rhea, please send donations to: Angels for Animals, 120 Croatan Lane, New Bern, North Carolina, 28562. In the memo line please write: Rhea White Cat Fund.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

RRC Members on the Radio

Monday, February 19, 5-6pm "Time Out", a WCOM-FM radio show hosted by Bill Hendrickson will feature both Larry Burk MD, President of the Rhine Research Center (RRC) Board of Directors, and Kala Ambrose, RRC Board Member and Owner of Explore Your Spirit, a Metaphysical Talk Show, in a discussion of the history of the Rhine Center, current and future research, and how the Rhine is evolving to meet the interests and requirements of an inquiring world. They will also promote and outline the March Conference of the RRC being held in Myrtle Beach, SC. This community show can be heard in Carrboro or Chapel Hill NC at 103.5FM or easily picked up on the web at Listeners may call in at (919) 929-9601.

Tuesday, February 20, 10-11pm The ‘X’ Zone Radio & TV Show with Rob McConnell, Executive Host and Producer will be chatting with Dr. Sally Rhine Feather, Executive Director of the RRC, about the March Conference of the RRC to be held in Myrtle Beach SC.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

RRC Lecture: Intuitive Medical Diagnosis

Historical, Research and Experiential Perspectives
A Presentation by Larry Burk, MD
Friday, February 23, 7:30-9pm

Larry Burk, MD, President of the Rhine Research Center Board of Directors is a musculoskeletal radiologist who has worked with a number of local and national medical intuitives. Dr. Burk was former Director of Education at the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, and is now President of Healing Imager, Inc., in the private practice of teleradiology. He has made presentations on intuitive diagnosis at the NIH, the Parapsychological Association and the American Holistic Medical Association. Larry has been interested in this subject since Caroline Myss did a reading on one of his MRI patients in 1992. In 2001, he did a small pilot research project with John Palmer, Ph.D., at the Rhine Research Center, testing seven local intuitives.

This presentation will consist of an historical overview, a summary of research studies, and a brief introduction to the experience of intuitive diagnosis for the audience through a partnered exercise.

For directions to the Rhine Research Center or the Stedman Auditorium, and/or to register, call 919-309-4600, between 9 am-5 pm, Monday-Friday, or visit The Rhine website at

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ian Stevenson Passes Away at 88 Years Old

The Division of Perceptual Studies has announced that Ian Stevenson passed away on February 8, 2007 in Charlottesville, Virginia at the age of 88.

Ian Stevenson, M.D. was the Director of the Division of Personality Studies and Carlson Professor of Psychiatry, both a part of the Department of Psychiatric Medicine, University of Virginia. He was the preeminent researcher in the study of reincarnation as well as being the leading scientist studying children who claim to remember previous lives. He also made important studies of telepathy, near-death experiences, apparitions ("death-bed visions"), the mind-brain problem, and the survival of human personality after death.

Read more about Ian Stevenson's accomplishments and his passing at the Paranormal Review.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What is Psi?

These days, the word 'psi' has almost become synonymous with the word 'parapsychology'. But what does it mean?

As well as being derived from the Greek work psyche (meaning "soul" or "mind"), psi is the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet. In the 1940's, it was proposed by B.P. Weisner and R.H. Thouless that psi be used as a general blanket term to identify anomalous processes and causation. Used as an adjective or noun, psi provides a neutral substitute for terms like extra sensory perception (ESP), psychokinesis (PK), or even the survival of bodily death. Since the term is purely descriptive, it neither implies that such anomalous phenomena are paranormal nor connotes anything about their underlying mechanisms.

Some researchers have come to think that ESP and PK might simply be different aspects of a single process, rather than being distinct and essentially unique phenomena. Sometimes psi is used to reflect this kind of thinking. Others prefer to use psi as a purely descriptive term for anomalous outcomes. In other words, psi can be used to describe the anomalous outcome of a laboratory experiment, without the researcher being required to choose between culturally connotated words like clairvoyance, telepathy, or psychokinesis.

Since the 1940's, the field has embraced this practice, and the usage of the term is widespread. Nowadays you'll find many scholars who refer to themselves as psi researchers, work at psi laboratories, look for psi in their experiments, read psi journals, and go to psi conferences.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Public Parapsychology on

Public Parapsychology now has a Myspace page:

Come on over and say hello!

Editorial: Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology...What's the Difference?

If we break down the term 'parapsychology' into its Greek roots, para means "beside or beyond," psyche means "soul or mind," and logos means "rational discussion." Literally, any rational discussion of phenomena beyond our current understanding of the mind could be termed parapsychology, but in practice scholars use different terms for different kinds of research. Nowadays, there are a variety of fields that engage in the rational discussion of such phenomena. In addition to parapsychology, there's transpersonal psychology, consciousness studies, and anomalistic psychology. On top of that, there are some people studying parapsychological topics who don't care for the term 'parapsychology' and call themselves 'psi researchers', just plain 'psychologists' or something else entirely.

When I first launched Public Parapsychology, I stated that it was "a web log devoted to advancing public scholarship in the field of parapsychology." But after a few weeks, I realized that the majority of my own research was more aptly described by the term 'anomalistic psychology' and so I began making a distinction in my posts. However, there seems to be some confusion about what anomalistic psychologists do, and how it differs from parapsychology, so a short discussion is in order.

In simplest terms, parapsychology is the scientific and scholarly study of certain unusual events associated with human experience. Anomalistic psychology is the scientific and scholarly study of unusual beliefs or experiences.

Anomalistic psychologists attempt to explain paranormal beliefs and paranormal experiences in terms of known psychological and physical factors. Such research is directed towards understanding the bizarre experiences that many people have without assuming that there is anything paranormal involved. In my opinion, the best kind of research in anomalistic psychology also avoids assuming that there is not anything paranormal involved. In such research, the reality of psi has little or no direct relevance to hypotheses under study.

Ideally, all scientists would be objective and agnostic when it comes to matters of faith, but there are unstated assumptions and biases behind all modes of scientific inquiry. Some might take the separation between anomalistic psychology and parapsychology to imply that parapsychologists are believers in the paranormal or anomalistic psychologists are non-believers, but this simplistic outlook is not the case. Parapsychologists and anomalistic psychologists come from all walks of life and some individuals (myself included) engage in both kinds of research concurrently.

In the current academic climate, open-minded inquiries into unusual events are more controversial than inquiries into the experiences associated with those events. Therefore, research that looks at unusual beliefs or experiences tends to enjoy more institutional support and has an easier time getting published in mainstream journals. However, the fact that anomalistic psychology has more mainstream appeal does not make it a better or more rigorous science than parapsychology (or vice-versa). I see parapsychology and anomalistic psychology as partners chipping away at the same problem from different angles, therefore both approaches will get equal treatment at the Public Parapsychology Blog.

For more information, see "What is Parapsychology?" at the website of the Parapsychological Association or "What is Anomalistic Psychology?" at the website of the Anomalistic Psychology Unit, Goldsmiths College, University of London. For a recent example of parapsychological research, see my research summary of The Effects of Traditional Zulu Healing on a Random Number Generator. For an example of a recent anomalistic psychology study, see the summary on Self-Concept and Body Investment in Out of Body Experients.