Archive for November, 2020

Erlendur Haraldsson (1931-2020)

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

I recently received the sad news that my friend, and well-known parapsychologist Erlendur Haraldsson, passed away. Here is a short biography of his background:

Erlendur Haraldsson

“Erlendur Haraldsson was born in Iceland in 1931. He studied philosophy at the University of Edinburgh (1955-1956) and the University of Freiburg (1956-1958), later studying psychology at Freiburg (1963-1966) and the University of Munich (1966-1969). In 1969-1970 he spent a year with Dr. J. B. Rhine at his Institute of Parapsychology in Durham, North Carolina, and in 1970-1971, he did an internship in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville where he met Dr. Ian Stevenson, leading to a life-long association and the publication of joint papers. From 1971-1973 he worked with Dr. Karlis Osis at the American Society for Psychical Research in New York. He received a doctorate in psychology from the University of Freiburg in 1972, and became a lecturer and assistant professor at the University of Iceland in psychology in 1973; in 1989 he became a full professor, and in 1999, an emeritus professor. His research and publications have covered a wide range of religious and psychological topics, including mediums, reincarnation, and deathbed phenomena” (online here). More details about his life appear in an autobiography published in Icelandic. The parapsychological content of this book will be published in English around March by White Crow Books.

One thing that I always admired about Erlendur was his interest in many areas of parapsychology. Few people in the field have shown such wide interests, particularly when it comes to research. I always felt that his contributions to the investigation of mediumship and deathbed visions were very important, and reminded us of the issue of spontaneous cases and survival of death.

This is evident in his bibliography, which includes such areas as ESP experiments, deathbed visions and apparitions, recollection of previous lives, mediumship, Sathya Sai Baba, and other topics. A few examples of publications appear below.

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Experimental Work

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1970). Subject selection in a machine precognition test. Journal of Parapsychology, 34, 182-191.

Martin Johnson and Erlendur Haraldsson. (1984). The Defence Mechanism Test as a predictor of ESP scores. Journal of Parapsychology, 48, 185-200.

Joop M. Houtkooper, Loftur R. Gissurarson and Erlendur Haraldsson. (1988-89). Why the ganzfeld is conducive to ESP. A study of observational theory and the percipient-order effect. European Journal of Parapsychology, 7, 169-192

Erlendur Haraldsson and Joop M. Houtkooper. (1992). The effects of perceptual defensiveness, personality and belief on extrasensory perception tasks. Personality and individual differences, 13, 1085-1096.

Erlendur Haraldsson, Joop M. Houtkooper, Rainer Schneider and Martin Bäckström (2002).Perceptual  defensiveness  and ESP performance: Reconstructed  DMT-ratings and psychological correlates in the first German DMT-ESP experiment. Journal of Parapsychology, 66, 249-270.

Deathbed Visions and Apparitions

Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson. (1977). At the hour of death. Avon Books. (There are later editions)

Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson. (1977). Deathbed observations by physicians and nurses: A cross-cultural survey. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 71, 237-259.

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1987). The Iyengar-Kirti case: An apparitional case of the by-stander type. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 54, 64-67. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1988-89). Survey of claimed encounters with the dead. Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying, 19, 103-113. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2009). Experiences of encounters with the dead: 337 new cases. Journal of Parapsychology, 73, 91-118. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2012). The Departed Among the Living: An Investigative Study of Afterlife Encounters. White Crow Books.

Recollections of Previous Lives

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1995). Personality and abilities of children claiming previous-life memories. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 183, 445-451.

Erlendur Haraldsson, Patrick Fowler and Vimala Periyannanpillai. (2000). Psychological characteristics of children who speak of a previous life: A further field study in Sri Lanka. Transcultural Psychiatry, 37, 525-544. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2000). Birthmarks and claims of previous life memories II. The case of Chatura Karunaratne. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. 64, 82-92. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2003). Children who speak of past-life experiences: Is there a psychological explanation? Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory Research and Practice, 76, 55-67. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2012). Persistence of ‘‘past-life’’ memories in adults who, in their childhood, claimed memories of a past life. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 200, 985-989. (Full text)

Erlendur Haraldsson and James G. Matlock. (2017). I Saw a Light and Came Here: Children‘s Experiences of Reincarnation. White Crow Books.


Erlendur Haraldsson and Ian Stevenson (1974). An experiment with the Icelandic medium Hafsteinn Björnsson. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 68, 192-202. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson and Ian Stevenson (1975). A communicator of the “drop in” type in Iceland: The case of Gudni Magnusson. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 69, 245-261. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson and Ian Stevenson (1975). A communicator of the “drop in” type in Iceland: The case of Runolfur Runolfsson. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 69, 33-59. (Full text)

Erlendur Haraldsson, J.G. Pratt and Magnus Kristjansson. (1978). Further experiments with the Icelandic medium Hafsteinn Bjornsson. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 72, 339-347. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson and Loftur R. Gissurarson (2015). Indridi Indridason the Icelandic Physical Medium. White Crow Books.

Sathya Sai Baba

Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson. (1976). Out-of-body experiences in Indian swamis: Sri Sathya Sai Baba and Dadaji. Research in Parapsychology 1975. Scarecrow Press, 147-50.

Sai Baba and Haraldsson (seated)

Erlendur Haraldsson and Karlis Osis. (1977). The appearance and disappearance of objects in the presence of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 71, 33-43.

Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson (1979). Parapsychological phenomena associated with Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Christian Parapsychologist, 3, 159-163.

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1987). “Miracles are my visiting cards”: An investigative report on psychic phenomena associated with Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Century-Hutchinson.

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1990). The miraculous and the Sai Baba Movement. Religion Today: A Journal of Contemporary Religions, 6(1), 6-9.

Other Psychic Experiences

Erlendur Haraldsson (1978). Þessa heims og annars. Könnun á dulrænni reynslu Íslendinga, trúarviðhorfum og þjóðtrú. Bókaforlagið Saga.

Erlendur Haraldsson and Orn Olafsson (1980). A survey of psychic healing in Iceland. The Christian Parapsychologist, 3, 276-79.

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1985). Representative national surveys of psychic phenomena: Iceland, Great Britain, Sweden, USA and Gallups multinational survey. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 53, 145-158. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson and Joop M. Houtkooper. (1991). Psychic Experiences in the Multi-National Human Values Survey. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 85, 145-165. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2011). Psychic experiences – third of a century apart: Two representative surveys in Iceland. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 75, 76-90. (Full text)

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Although I first saw Erlendur at the 1979 convention of the Parapsychological Association held at Moraga, California, I met him in the early 1980s when I was working at the University of Virginia as a research assistant for Ian Stevenson. Stevenson assigned me to help Erlendur finish his book about Sathya Sai Baba. Erlendur asked me to find cases in the spiritualistic and psychical research literature of phenomena similar to those produced by this person. In later years he returned and I continued having long talks with him. I learned much from him (I was new in the field) and once he told me he saw me as a colleague, not as an assistant. This is one of the most satisfying moments of my early career in psychical research.

Nagato Azuma. Carlos S. Alvarado, and Erlendur Haraldsson at the Division of Parapsychology, University of Virginia (early 1980s)

In later years, when he visited us again in Charlottesville, I continued having many conversations with him, and he stayed with me and with my wife, Nancy Zingrone, and used one of my cars. He also stayed with us briefly in Virginia Beach.

I greatly enjoyed his book Indridi Indridason the Icelandic Physical Medium (written with Loftur R. Gissurarson, 2015). I felt honored that he asked me to write an introduction to the book, and also felt he acknowledged my interest in the old psychic literature.

Although he conducted much research showing that psychic phenomena were related to psychological variables in the laboratory, I feel that Erlendur contributed greatly to expand the importance of seeing the phenomena outside of the confining experimental walls. Without rejecting laboratory work, he reminded us of personal experiences, the phenomena of mediums, and of the richness and implications of powerful experiences such as deathbed visions and apparitions, and later, recollections of previous lives.

Erlendur stated he was affected by figures in the field such as J.B. Rhine, Karlis Osis, and Ian Stevenson. I think many of us, myself included, were also positively affected by Erlendur, both personally and professionally.

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

I am glad to present the following information about an online event sponsored by the Parapsychological Association.


Humanity’s greatest challenge is the current ecological crisis. How may parapsychology contribute to the expected changes of behavior?

PA Members will explore this question on November 21, 2020 in an online symposium chaired by PA President Renaud Evrard. This event is the first of a series of quarterly symposia on various parapsychological topics.

Register here.

Parapsychology is a scientific attempt to explore as-yet-unknown rules of nature. With the current concerns of the ecological crisis, it’s time to assess how this discipline may contribute to expected changes of behavior by changing the way we think about our place in the cosmos. Ecology may become parapsychology’s next challenge.

The most obvious intersection between ecology and parapsychology is a commonly reported aftereffect of several different types of exceptional experiences (psychedelics, near-death or abduction experiences, etc.): the experiencer comes away from their encounter with an enhanced sense of connection to the environment and the world around them.

The “ecological self” is a new sense of self that sees the environment as an extension – or part – of the person. The study of this rising “ecological consciousness” shows another promising aspect of exceptional experiences. In a similar vein, the worldview of animism may offer parapsychology a viable alternative to physicalism, entailing ethical implications for its methods and practices.

Explanatory models for living organisms must take into account the existence of the background reality described by parapsychology, along with the modes of causation it implies. Therefore, a new theory of evolutionism is being developed in parapsychological circles. What is the place of psi in nature? 

Sessions and Speakers

Ecology: Parapsychology’s Next Challenge
Renaud Evrard

The notion of ecosystems is all about relationships, a connection of everything through networks of reciprocal exchange. How does parapsychology intersect with the field of ecology?

Parapsychology and the Ecological Self
Jack Hunter

Deep Ecologists have argued that the ecological crisis is simultaneously a psychological and spiritual crisis, and that we will need to re-conceptualize our relationship to the world in which we live.

The Missing Link: What Psi Tells Us About Biology and Evolution
Michael Nahm

Nahm argues that current mainstream biologists lack an encompassing understanding of organisms, and explains why psi is necessary to expand current biology, including evolutionary biology.

Psi, Psychedelics and Nature
David Luke

The practice of psychedelically inducing psi is embedded within a nature-based eco-spiritual epistemology and is difficult to disentangle as a web of interconnected relations

The Ethical Implications Animism Psi Has for Parapsychology

Jacob Glazer

Building on recent research in science studies, the worldview of animism offers parapsychology a viable alternative to physicalism entailing ethical implications for its methods and practices.

General admission: $40
PA Professional, Associate, and Supporting Members: $25

Start Time: Saturday, November 21, 2020 End Time: Saturday, November 21, 2020 Location: Online at Price: $40 General Admission/$25 PA Members

Register here.