Date: Saturday, June 15
Admission: $8 each / $12 both
5 pm A History of Parapsychology and Psychical Research
The scientific investigation of psychic phenomena will be discussed—from the rise of Spiritualism in 1848, to the founding of the Society for Psychical Research in 1882, to the laboratory research and the U.S. government’s psychic spying program of the 1970s and 1980s. Methods, findings, and applications of research will be discussed, including some examples from Hansen’s own research. The rise of organized attacks on paranormal research and belief will be covered.
6:30 pm Break for Refreshment / Discussion
8 pm The Decline of Parapsychology, or Whatever Happened to Parapsychology?
About 1990, U.S. research in parapsychology began a steep decline. Laboratories closed, attendance at professional conferences dropped, the average age of attendees trended strongly upward, and professional journals became thinner. This failure to flourish can be understood in terms of rationalization and disenchantment—concepts developed by sociologist Max Weber. Openness to, and engagement with, paranormal phenomena is rarely found in the large, hierarchical organizations of government, academe, business, or religion. The side effects of psi phenomena will be discussed. Those effects are often overlooked, but they lead to the paranormal’s marginalization in our culture. Although parapsychology is now nearly moribund in the U.S., growing paranormal interest is found in the academic fields of religious studies, anthropology, and studies of Western esotericism.
George Hansen was professionally employed in parapsychology laboratories for eight years—three at the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina, and five at Psychophysical Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey. His experiments included remote viewing, card guessing, ganzfeld, electronic random number generators, séance phenomena, and ghosts. His papers in scientific journals cover mathematical statistics, fraud and deception, the skeptics movement, conjurors in parapsychology, and exposés of hoaxes. He has been active in a number of psychic, UFO, and New Age organizations, and he helped found a skeptics group. He is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.