Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center (http://rhine.org)
Years back, between 1986 and 1993 I was a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Parapsychology, housed within the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, in Durham, North Carolina. This was the previous name of what is known today as the Rhine Research Center (http://rhine.org), which in turn was a descendant of J.B. Rhine’s famous Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University (for a short history see http://rhine.org/who-we-are/history.html). Now, in 2013, I have come back to North Carolina and I am again a Visiting Scholar at the RRC. Then, as now, my position is a volunteer position.
How is the place now after my years of absence? I would like to comment on that and, at the same time, present general information about the organization to my readers.
The Rhine Research Center, or the Rhine, as many call the place, is a dynamic and fast growing organization. It is headed by John Kruth, the Executive Director, with the assistance of a group of dedicated volunteers who are involved in the practical aspects of the planning of various events and public relations, and in the management of the office, membership and library. The organization counts on a dedicated Board of Directors (http://rhine.org/who-we-are/staff/board-of-directors.html), over which Benton Bogle presides. The Board includes Dr. Sally Rhine Feather, daughter of J.B. and Louisa Rhine, who is not only active in many practical aspects of the Rhine, but also provides the organization with a unique focus. Among other things, she provides a connection with the past, but above all, is a constant reminder of the legacy her parents left to parapsychology.
One of the things I have discovered on my return is that John Kruth is taking the organization forward providing a balance between attention to the public and a commitment to the science of parapsychology. Considering the first, the Rhine is a membership organization that offers many services and benefits to its members. It has been pleasant to find that there is an active lecture series (which is livestreamed and recorded for members to watch later in the well-stocked Rhine website “media library”) that meets at facilities at Duke University. These lectures—organized by Dr. Feather and by Susan Freeman—bring speakers who discuss a great variety of topics, from the practical to the theoretical, from the experiential to the scientific study of the subject. Some speakers during 2013 have included Eben Alexander, Julia Assante, Joanne DiMaggio, Hoyt Edge, Michael Grosso, Mitchell Krucoff, Jerry Lazarus, Joe McMoneagle, Ed May, Nancy L. Zingrone, and yours truly.
The Rhine also maintains the Alex Tanous Library. In recent days I have indulged myself in its collection, checking many of its titles pertaining to one of my main interests, the old psychical research literature. This includes books by such authors as Ernesto Bozzano, Hereward Carrington, William J. Crawford, Camille Flammarion, James H. Hyslop, Oliver Lodge, Charles Richet, and many others.
Following the tradition established before the Rhine received its new name, the organization publishes the well-known Journal of Parapsychology, a journal that started publication in 1937 and has consistently been one of the main scientific and scholarly journals in the field. This publication is edited by Dr. John Palmer, who is a prominent researcher in parapsychology. In addition, another publication, designed for the general public, is the Rhine Newsletter, edited by Jennifer Moore.
The Rhine also sponsors various discussion groups. These include: The Rhine Book Club (to discuss recently published books), the Psychic Experiences Group (to discuss personal psychic experiences), and the Remote Viewing Group.
I have greatly enjoyed two other meetings. One of them, organized by Kruth, is a weekly meeting discussing recent new, research, and publications related to parapsychology. Recent discussions have been highly informative, keeping those of us who attend aware of current developments. For example in a recent meeting in which I summarized the content of a parapsychology bulletin from Argentina, we ended up talking about aspects of the field in that country as well as in Brazil. There is also a monthly research meeting, organized by Dr. Palmer, the purpose of which is the presentation of research projects and the discussion of scholarly work of different sorts.
Some of the previously mentioned lectures and meetings serve to fulfil the role of public education in parapsychology, a major concern of the Rhine. More formally, the Rhine Education Center has been organized to provide online courses. Currently an online introduction to parapsychology is being taught by Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone (http://www.rhineeducationcenter.org/edu/). Some of the topics covered are ESP, psychokinesis, and out-of-body and near-death experiences. Plans are underway to expand the course offerings to other topics, including methodological approaches to the study of psychic phenomena.
The Rhine has by no means forgotten its scientific legacy and goal. Currently there are several projects in progress, as you can see in the Rhine’s website (http://rhine.org/what-we-do/current-research.html). The first report of a very exciting and pioneering line of research coming from the Rhine Bio-Energy Lab was published recently. The report, entitled “Electromagnetic Emission from Humans During Focused Intent,” was authored by William Joines, Steven Baumann (deceased), and John Kruth (Journal of Parapsychology, 2012). In this project the researchers measured infrared and ultraviolet emissions (photons per seconds). The results showed that “light-sensitive equipment can detect energies from some healers and meditators who are able to intentionally project this energy.”
As the first Visiting Scholar under the new administration, I am free to do my own work in any way I want. I have many projects going on consisting of articles I hope to send soon for publication to scholarly journals. One project is a presentation new cases of out-of-body experiences, and an analysis of published examples, in which the physical body was reported to be active in some way (such as moving and talking). Others are articles of historical interest, among them a discussion of possible future investigations into the life and work of Ernesto Bozzano, and aspects of the work of Cesare Lombroso.
It has been exciting for me to come back to my old turf, and, even more, to a place where a love of scientific and scholarly research in parapsychology is openly cultivated. As I can attest from personal experience during the last few years it is rare to find places like the Rhine where such work is not only encouraged, but it is discussed and supported by a community of scientifically-minded individuals.