Archive for February, 2018


Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

In my recent recommendations of readings about the history of parapsychology (click here and here) I neglected to mention the biographies of psychical researchers available in the Psi Encyclopedia, a project sponsored by the Society for Psychical Research that I have discussed here before (click here and here).

The Psi Encyclopedia, still under construction, has several useful biographies of past figures involved in various ways with psychical research. An interesting entry, by Etzel Cardeña, is Eminent People Interested in Psi. He presents lists of individuals from various areas interested in psychic phenomena. Some of them are: Hans Berger, Jorge Luis Borges, Andre Breton, Rudolph Carnap, Alexis Carrell, Marie Curie, Jacques Derrida, Mircea Eliade, Aldous Huxley, Margaret Mead, Max Planck, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Alan Turing, Mark Twain, and W.B. Yeats.

Marie Curie

Marie Curie

Jacques Derrida

Jacques Derrida

Margaret Mead

Margaret Mead

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Long biographies are presented of individuals who have worked in parapsychology, such as the following ones:

John Beloff (by Melvyn Willin)

John Beloff.3

John Beloff

Henri Bergson (Renaud Evrard)

Henri Bergson

Henri Bergson

Ernesto Bozzano (Carlos S. Alvarado)

Ernesto Bozzano 5

Ernesto Bozzano

William Braud (Marilyn Schlitz)

William Braud

William Braud

C.D. Broad (Stephen E. Braude)

C.D. Broad

C.D. Broad

Eric Dingwall (Melvin Willin)

Eric John Dingwall

Eric J. Dingwall

C.J. Ducasse (Stephen E. Braude)

C.J. Ducasse

C.J. Ducasse

Jule Eisenbud (Stephen E. Braude)

Jules Eisenbud

Jule Eisenbud

Théodore Flournoy (Carlos S. Alvarado)

Theodore Flournoy

Théodore Flournoy

David Fontana (Guy Lyon Playfair)

David Fontana

David Fontana

Hamlin Garland (Michael Tymn)

Hamlin Garland

Hamlin Garland

Gustave Geley (Renaud Evrard)

H407/0191

Gustave Geley

Joseph Glanvill (John Newton)

joseph Glanvil

Joseph Glanvil

Edmund Gurney (Andreas Sommer)

edmund-gurney

Edmund Gurney

Richard Hodgson (Michael Tymn)

Richard Hodgson

Richard Hodgson

James Hyslop (Michael Tymn)

James H. Hyslop

James H. Hyslop

William James (Carlos S. Alvarado)

William James 2

William James

Andrew Lang (Melvyn Willin)

Andrew Lang

Andrew Lang

Oliver Lodge (Michael Tymn)

Oliver Lodge younger

Oliver J. Lodge

Frederic W.H. Myers (Trevor Hamilton)

Frederic Myers 4

Frederic W.H. Myers

Frank Podmore (Melvyn Willin)

Frank Podmore

Frank Podmore

JB Rhine (Sally R. Feather & Barbara Ensrud)

J.B. Rhine 1956

J.B. Rhine

Charles Richet (Carlos S. Alvarado)

Charles Richet 10

Charles Richet

Eleanor Sidgwick (Alan Gauld)

by Eveleen Myers (nÈe Tennant), platinum print, 1890s

Eleanor Sidgwick

Samuel Soal  (Donald West)

Samuel G. Soal

Samuel G. Soal

René Sudre (Renaud Evrard)

Rene Sudre

René Sudre

Herbert Thurston (Michael Potts)

Herbert Thurston

Herbert Thurston

René Warcollier (Renaud Evrard)

Rene Warcollier

René Warcollier

Readers are encouraged to keep checking the Encyclopedia. This work, edited by Robert McLuhan, is constantly growing. As time goes on the Psi Encyclopedia will have many other relevant biographies.

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Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

I am presenting here an excerpt from a book by Morgan Knudsen discussing the psychic activities of her great great grandfather Albert Durrant Watson (1859-1926), described in the Dictionary of Canadia  Biography as a “physician, astronomer, author, and psychical researcher.” (Click here)

Albert Durrant Watson

Albert Durrant Watson

According to this biographical entry Dr. Watson “successfully practised medicine for more than four decades, serving on staff at three hospitals, including Toronto Western.”

Here is the excerpt.

**** 

The Beginning of Psychical Research in Canada 

Excerpt from Teaching The Living: From Heartbreak to Healing in a Haunted Home (2018) by Morgan Knudsen

Morgan Knudsen

Morgan Knudsen

The idea that we have a say in what turns up in our reality has been tossed around a lot in the last number of years and in the early 1900’s, Albert Durrant Watson, my great great grandfather, was no exception. The subject matter comes up repeatedly in his book The Twentieth Plane and Birth Through Death, as both books were allegedly transcripts of the channeling sessions with a strange, then unknown fellow, Louis Benjamin.

image of sequence 7

A.D. Watson was born in 1859 in Mississauga, Ontario. He was a member of the Euclid Avenue Church in Toronto, the Toronto Conference, the General Conference, the Board of Missions, and the executive of the Methodist Social Union of Toronto, and he served as treasurer of the church’s department of temperance and moral reform. His involvement in the church was about to change, unbeknownst to him, when he fell down the rabbit hole of the paranormal. Despite his church involvement, Albert was a man of science. He earned an MD from Victoria College, Cobourg, in 1883. In 1890 he would receive another, ad eundem, from the University of Toronto in recognition of his graduation as a licentiate from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1883 and he practiced medicine for over twenty years. Watson’s life was far from boring.

If that wasn’t enough, Watson was fascinated with Astronomy and dove right in. His papers relating to that field include “The reformation and simplification of the calendar” (1896), “Astronomy in Canada” (1917), and “Astronomy: a cultural avocation” (1918). He joined the Astronomical and Physical Society of Toronto in 1892, which would eventually become the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and he served as first vice-president between 1910 and 1915 and as president in 1916 and 1917. But his life changed when he founded the Association for Psychical Research of Canada. The world wasn’t ready for what he was about to deliver and the public ridicule became relentless.

If you were born around 1970 or 1980, think about our grandmother’s generation: Growing up in the 1930’s and 40’s, the paranormal was never spoken about. In the Victorian era, it was all the rage! If you weren’t holding seances and spooky occasions then you were just missing the social life! But by the time the early 1900’s hit, the public attitude had changed. A lot. My great great grandfather, Albert Durrant Watson, was an extremely well-respected physician and a strict non-believer. He was a man of art and science, a fluent poet, and a wealthy doctor. He was married and had everything going for him with a rich social life that just happened to have a fair bit of interest in the spiritual. Something he did not subscribe to… at first. His mind started to open up when he began allowing his home to be used for channelling sessions with a man named Louis Benjamin. As he began to overhear these sessions which he labelled as hogwash and entertainment, he began to take some interest in the information that the uneducated and simple Mr. Benjamin should not have had access to, including detailed information about the death of Watson’s very own mother.

These repeated sessions ended up being scribed into two books, The Twentieth Plane and it’s sequel, Birth Through Death.

These books were quite a leap from the science and poetry that his colleagues and friends had come to expect from him, and were met with a negative tongue and controversial uproars. Despite this, Watson held on to his position about what he had experienced and didn’t seek the approval of readers. Instead he offered it as information for a coming age and believed people would either accept it or not, admitting his own heavy skepticism towards mediums. Either way, he put his career on the line to stand for what he believed in and my family never spoke of him. I did not learn that this influential and historical figure was the founder of the very first paranormal research association in Canada until I was well into my career, having founded Entityseeker: Paranormal Research and Teachings in 2002.

My family was steeped in paranormal occurrences and stories: all of them bad. It wasn’t until much later I discovered A.D. Watson had very different experiences, that I reshaped my history with the paranormal. The first words my grandmother spoke to my mother upon one of our visits to her place were very simple: “Don’t let Morgan get involved in the paranormal. It’s dangerous, it’s bad, and it will only cause trouble.”

She held this belief for a reason: Her experiences were no short of awful. She rarely spoke about them but when she did talk to my dad (her son) about them, they were terrifying. She spoke of waking up in the night with a hideous face inches from her own, attacks happening mid day and having absolutely no control over what came into or out of her experience. Being an intuitive woman, things would happen to her regularly and it wasn’t long before her younger son, my dad’s younger brother, began dabbling in the paranormal as well.  When he became a teenager, he was knee deep in it, and having the same horrific experiences.

Albert spoke of a very different relationship: A relationship with nonphysical that was helpful, peaceful, enduring, loving, and beautiful. His books reflected kind conversations and simple, easy access to the loved ones we believe we have lost to the death process. The idea of the spirit ‘getting stuck’ disappeared, and words of empowerment directed towards the living came bubbling forth. These weren’t grave warnings, these were uplifting, fun, and artistic messages from a group of entities that called themselves “The Humble Ones”. This was a game changer and this message were the basis for my program, Teaching The Living, although when I designed it in 2002, I had no idea these conversations had ever happened.

I have never been a big believer in coincidences. In the same breath, I am not sure I have an explanation for why or how I ended up on the niche path of paranormal research and parapsychology as a man who I was unaware of for decades. Regardless, Albert Durrant Watson is not only an important part of parapsychological history in my life, but throughout Canada as well.

It was said of A.D. Watson by Lorne Pierce: “He recognized no national, ecclesiastical or any other frontier, but searched the world through for truth… He sifted the philosophies, the religions and the humanities of the world… No man during this generation in Toronto ever entertained so many strange faces, tongues, sects, systems, enthusiasms, artists, poets, fanatics, sages as he did; no home was more the ante-chamber to the universe.”

If we all could embrace this attitude as we head in to this research, it is my belief that the advancement of this field would accelerate in ways, dare I say, that we could only dream about.

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For more information about Dr. Watson see Chapter 6 of Anatomy of a Seance: A History of Spirit Communication in Central Canada (Montreal: McGill’s University Press, 2004), by Stan McMullin.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Here is a recently published paper about the mind-body problem in psychiatry journals: Moreira-Almeida, A., Araujo, S. de F., & Cloninger, C. R. (2018). The presentation of the mind-brain problem in leading psychiatry journals. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, Epub February 01, 2018. https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1516-4446-2017-2342 (click here)

Alexander Moreira Almeida

Alexander Moreira-Almeida

Saulo de Freitas Araujo

Saulo de Freitas Araujo

C. Robert Cloninger

C. Robert Cloninger

Abstract

Objective: The mind-brain problem (MBP) has marked implications for psychiatry, but has been poorly discussed in the psychiatric literature. This paper evaluates the presentation of the MBP in the three leading general psychiatry journals during the last 20 years. Methods: Systematic review of articles on the MBP published in the three general psychiatry journals with the highest impact factor from 1995 to 2015. The content of these articles was analyzed and discussed in the light of contemporary debates on the MBP. Results: Twenty-three papers, usually written by prestigious authors, explicitly discussed the MBP and received many citations (mean = 130). The two main categories were critiques of dualism and defenses of physicalism (mind as a brain product). These papers revealed several misrepresentations of theoretical positions and lacked relevant contemporary literature. Without further discussion or evidence, they presented the MBP as solved, dualism as an old-fashioned or superstitious idea, and physicalism as the only rational and empirically confirmed option. Conclusion: The MBP has not been properly presented and discussed in the three leading psychiatric journals in the last 20 years. The few articles on the topic have been highly cited, but reveal misrepresentations and lack of careful philosophical discussion, as well as a strong bias against dualism and toward a materialist/physicalist approach to psychiatry.

The authors concluded:

“Our findings indicate that the MBP has been neither carefully nor systematically addressed in the three leading general psychiatry journals with the highest impact factors during the last 20 years. We found only 23 papers published in this period which discussed, or made explicit reference to, this challenging problem that affects psychiatric training, research, and practice so greatly. Moreover, these papers were usually authored by prestigious and highly cited psychiatrists and had high citation rates – much higher than the three top cited journals’ average. This suggests that those views on MBP have been influential and may have helped shape the field’s stance on the subject.”

“A careful reading of those articles on the MBP, however, reveals a series of misrepresentations of theoretical positions (often based on secondary literature), lack of relevant contemporary literature on the topic, and a strong bias toward reductive physicalism in psychiatry. In summary, without further discussion or evidence, these authors present the MBP as solved, dualism as an old-fashioned/superstitious idea, and physicalism (mind as a brain product) as the only rational option and the only one that has undoubtedly been empirically confirmed. We are not arguing that physicalism (either in its reductive or nonreductive forms) is false. Given the current state of our knowledge, it should be considered a viable and promising hypothesis for the MBP, a good framework for research. The problem, in our view, is the misrepresentation of alternative hypotheses and the presentation of physicalism as the only game in town or as a proven fact . . .”

“. . . given the status of our current knowledge and the absence of a satisfactory theory of the MBP, the best way to achieve progress in psychiatry is to recognize that the MBP is far from being solved and to be open to competing theoretical models, as is being done in contemporary physics and philosophy of mind. It is crucial that several models of the MBP, including physicalist and nonphysicalist ones, be allowed to develop and show their value (or lack thereof). Rather than misrepresenting potential candidates, it is more productive to consider alternative hypotheses seriously and test them rigorously with respect for what they propose. Psychiatry could benefit from such competition to move beyond its current limitations.”

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

The first of a multi-volume collection of books discussing the Star Gate Project has just been published. The Star Gate Archives: Reports of the United States Government Sponsored Psi Program, 1972–1995. Volume 1: Remote Viewing, 1972–1984 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2018) was compiled and edited by Edwin C. May and Sonali Bhatt Marwaha. Three more volumes are scheduled to be published soon.

Star Gate Archives 1

Ed May 2

Edwin C. May

Sonali Marwaha

Sonali Bhatt Marwaha

According to the publisher:

“During the Cold War, the U.S. government began testing paranormal claims under laboratory conditions in hopes of realizing intelligence applications for psychic phenomena. Thus began the project known as Star Gate. The largest in the history of parapsychological research, it received more than $20 million in funding and continued into the mid–1990s. This project archive includes all available documents generated by research contractor SRI International and those provided by government officials.”

“Remote viewing (RV) is an atypical ability that allows some individuals to gain information blocked from the usual senses by shielding, distance or time. Early work benefited from a few “stars” of RV who were successful at convincing investigators of its existence and its potential as a means of gathering intelligence. Research focused on determining the parameters of RV, who may have the ability, how to collect and analyze data and the best way to use RV in intelligence operations.”

The book, with forewords by William S. Cohen and Richard S. Broughton, is a unique publication that shows well the unique legacy of the Star Gate Program. The Star Gate Archives may be ordered from the publisher or from other places.