Stacy Horn

Harper Collins



Note: Ms. Horn provides source information but no footnote number identification.


The story of J.B. Rhine and the scientists at Duke University in their quest for a scientific exploration of the paranormal.


Dr. William McDougall

Dr. J.B. Rhine: published book Extra Sensory Perception in 1934. Reviews were not only positive; they were excited, and Rhine’s fame grew. Rhine’s colleagues at Duke psychology department became jealous. Got funding thru Frances Bolton to form separate institute: he became director of Parapsychology Laboratory of Duke University.

His ultimate personal goal  was to find proof of existence after death.

To do this in a scientific manner, he decided he needed to have 4 areas of research:

Telepathy: getting information from other peoples minds

Clairvoyqance: getting info from sources other than the mind

Precognition: seeing into the future

Psychkinesis: moving objects with the mind


Rhine made contacts  with Walter Kaempffert, a science writer for the NYT, and others at Scientific American; began correspondence with Swiss Carl Jung.


Gardner Murphy


Rhine exposed Mina Crandon and husband and respected surgeon Dr. Le Roi G. Crandon

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: “J.B.Rhine is an ass.”

Writer Upton Sinclair and his wife Mary Craig


Eileen Garrett: publication Tomorrow

Published articles about psychic experiences of famous people, including

Adolf Hitler, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, Dwight eisenhower, W.B. Yeats, Carl Jung, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud, Pope Pius XII, Abraham Lincoln, Perce Bysshe Shelly, Aldous Huxley, Albert Schweitzer, and William Blake


By 1940, the lab had conducted almost  a million ESP card reading trials. If the experiments were properly designed, and the trials properly controlled, the results cannot be dismissed without throwing out the results of all experiments using the same statistical methods. Still there were critics.  P. 64


In December 1937,  Dr Burton H. Camp and the institute of Mathematical Statistics published a statement that “… assuming that the experiments have been properly performed, the statistical analysis is essentially valid. If the Rhine investigation s to be fairly attacked, it must be on othr than mathematical grounds.” P. 65.


“…the well known science writer and skeptic Martin Gardiner, in his book Fad and Fallacies, wrote: ‘ It should be stated immediately that Rhine is clearly not a pseudoscientist to a degree even remotely comparable to that of most of the men discussed in this book. He is an intensely sincere man, whose work has been undertaken with a care and competence that cannot be dismissed easily, and which deserves a far more serious treatment.’” P. 67.


“...while the Duke scientists had made some leeway with psychologists, they had made virtually none in other areas of science, [especially] among physicists.” P. 68.


The lab analyzed the results from different groups, including children, the blind, American Indians, patients in mental hospitals and animals. P. 69.


Regarding Rhine’s fourth book, Extra-sensory Perception After 60 Years, Rhine’s old professor at Harvard, Edward Boring, wrote to tell him that parts of it were required reading for the Introduction to Psychology class. P. 72.


In 1943, the lab published works on 9 years of research on psychokinesis. The effect was studied by attempting to mentally control the outcome of tossing of dice. A small effect was found. P. 74.


Many years later, Helmut Schmidt, a German physicist working a Boeing’s research lab,  and later for Rhine, would develop a PK experiment using a random number generator, based on radioactive decay to randomly illuminate a circle of lights. Subjects were asked to influence which direction the lights lit.


The scientist and skeptic Carl Sagan grudgingly conceded that by thought alone humans can … affect random number generators in computers…” p. 75 [Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark Ballantine Books 1997.


Martin Gardner wrote “There is obviously an enormous, irrational prejudice on the part of most American psychologists… against even the possibility of extra sensory mental powers.” P. 78.


Soon after the end of WWII, Rhine announced that the lab would begin studying “spontaneous psychic experiences.” P. 79. The lab was deluged with letters.


Rhine had spent his life moving psychical research away from the fringe and into the lab. But the younger scientists wee getting anxious. They had found evidence of ESP and PK in the lab, which meant that it could also be found in the world. P. 99.


Rhine’s wife, Louie, was charged with collecting letters on “SPE”. She organized them into three types: intuition, dreams, and hallucinations. “Hallucinations” included apparitions, ghosts and poltergeists.  P. 101.


Louie came to see ESP as more “thought reading” than “thought sending”; there is not always an active sender. P. 101.  It has evolved into “Remote Viewing.” Letter writers had telepathic experiences regardless of whether an active sender was involved. P. 102.


Others argued that this view was inadequate to describing the phenomena, for example,

Group apparitions.  Louie had been calling apparitions subjective, “how objective can a subjective hallucination become?” p.  104.


One of the most interesting things Louie learned from the letters was people heard ghosts (auditory hallucinations) more than they saw them. P. 105.: The sounds were conjured by the hearer in order to convey information gained by ESP. P. 107.


Author discusses tape recorded “hallucinations.” Raymond Bayless, Attila von Szalay;

Friedrich Jurgenson; engineer and paranormal researcher Paolo Presi, and best kown Dr. Konstantin Raudive: book  Breakthrough. Web site for American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (AA-EVP) founded in 1982 by Sarah Estep. P. 109 f.

The top alternative explanations for EVP: stray radio broadcasts, apophenia (finding patterns in sounds where none exists) and inadvertent words spoken by the recorders themselves.


Joplin Missouri light phenomena: “Spook Light”. Army Corp of Engineers looked into during WWII and concluded the light was a  mysterious light of unknown origin.” P. 117


Normal people hear voices: “although the majority of people with schizophrenia hear voices, the vast majority of voice hearers do not have schizophrenia. P. 118.


Perhaps the most compelling research into reincarnation would be conducted by Ian Stevenson,  professor and department chair of Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia Medical School. Louie had tried to convince him that the reincarnation cases were not worth studying “but her warning came too late” Stevenson said.

Carl Sagan wrote that “young children sometimes report the details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation,”  adding that the idea merited serious study. P. 125.


[Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark Ballantine Books 1997.



Rhine declined to study voices, hypnosis related phenomena, reincarnation, UFOs, and Near death experiences.


Through Rhine’s efforts, the professional Parapsychological Association became an official organization in 1956. The ultimate goal was membership in and recognition form the American Association for the Advancement of Science. P. 128.


Rhine decided concrete results could come from studying poltergeists. P. 129.


Rhine always felt uneasy about (and was openly hostile to) Andrija Puharich, a doctor and psychical researcher who was directly connected to some psychics of somewhat bad repute. P. 174.


In the 1960s,  Karlis Osis left Rhine’s lab to work for Eileen Garrett . In 1961 he came out with a report “Deathbed Observations by Physicians and Nurses” What would come to be known as near-death experiences would go on to become a new major area of research. P. 177.


Osis sent out ten thousand questionnaires to medical professionals, and got 640  responses. Just under 40% of the people in the ases reported saw visions.


Rhine was very wary of experimenting with drugs, but a line of communication developed between Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, (author of Doors of Perception)

Arthur Koestler, and Rhine, so that Leary  was invited to the lab. Rhine and lab personell took LSD, but ultimately decided LSD was not worth persuing.  P.178 f.


Barbara B. Brown, who became famous in the 1970s for her work in bio-feedback, worked for Riker Labs in California in 1961, and replied as follows to Rhine’s query regarding the Army’s interest in hallucinogenic mushrooms: “ I have been advised by the Army authorities that their interests are not to be discussed under any circumstances.” P. 189.


In  1961 the lab and the US military learned that a parapsychological  lab had been established at the University of Leningrad.  The Russians had apparently been investigating ESP since 1916. Rhine tried to get the government interested in this lab, but to no avail. On May 21, 1962, the lab sent Gaither Pratt on a trip, during which he visited the Leningrad lab. He was warmly received.


The Russians emphasized the physiological aspects of ESP, as opposed to the psychological.  While Upton Sinclair called ESP mental radio, the Russians had been calling it “biological radio” since 1916. p. 196.


Both the Army and Navy eventually admitted to Rhine that they were experimenting with hallucinogens. P. 189.


Under psychiatrist Sidney Gottlieb, the CIA was already experimenting with hypnosis by 1954 to see how it could be used for control. Newsweek ran an article indicating that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were looking into ESP.  The Pentagon issued an immediate denial.


The CIA began testing hallucinogens in the 1950s-60s under the project name MK-Ultra, which was exposed in the 11970s. p. 190.


In 1953(?) the year Puharich was experimenting with mushrooms and ESP, and the military was vehemently denying working with him, the Air Force built a machine for testing ESP. The AF Cambridge Research Lab started its tests in 1961.


Rhine had seen an ESP machine at Bell Labs. He also had a contact  at Westinghouse, which also had a small EPS testing machine.


In the 1970s, the CIA gave Stanford Research Institute (SRI) 50 K to look into what would eventually be called “remote viewing.”  Led to Army’s psychic spy unit, Stargate, established in 1978. 


According to Joe McMoneagle, one of the original remote viewers in the program, over the years the “CIA,  DIA,  DEA,  NSA, FBI, NSC, Border Patrol, Secret Service, White House, …” made use of Stargate’s remote viewers. P. 198.


Parapsychologists such as Bill Roll and William Joines look at ways in which quantum entanglement (Bell’s Theorem; non-locality) might explain the paranormal.


Robert Jahn, Brenda Dunne, and PEAR.


Experiments have shown that entanglement extends into the macroscopic world. P. 218.


Roll, as many others, noted there was an emotional element to poltergeists. Jahn and Dunne had introduced the idea of consciousness waves. When we focus our attention on an object, it may become “charged” in an electromagnetic sense. Objects that fly through the air may have  become charged with great emotional energy. Jahn believes that information between an agent and an object may be carried by another field, not currently accounted for in science, what he calls an “information field” with consciousness as an information processor.  “We have to get consciousness and information into the physical theories  Jahn sums up. P. 219. f.


Quantum physicist Henry P. Stapp noted that the effect of non-locality can be understood by conceiving the universe to be a growing compendium of information rather than a collection of tiny bits of matter. P. 220.


Jahn and Dunne have recently written a paper called Change The Rules!

[Journal of Scientific Exploration vol 22 no 2 spring 2008]

Anomalous phenomenon are anomalous precisely because they do not obey our laws of space and time. But these anomalous phenomena show that consciousness is able at times to interact directly with the environment without the imposition of these space/time filters.

Jahn and Dunne call this new direction the “Science of the Subjective.”

P. 220

Lloyd Auerbach has a masters degree in parapsychology from JFK university, and investigates hauntings. He has found that the fluctuations in the EMF of the local environment are the best indicators of ghost activity. He uses a tri-field meter, which measures magnetic, electric, and microwave fields.


Dr Michael Persinger has also noted that areas associated with hauntings  tended to be electromagnetically noisy. P. 221 f.


The critical principle here is that the experience is created by the effect of the EM field on the brain’s  temporal lobe. P. 222


Persinger has studied the EM fields at sites where people have had paranormal experiences. His famous hallucinatory helmet subjects the wearer to very weak EM fields similar to those measured within haunted areas.  P. 222


Experimental Facilitation of the Sensed Presence Is Predicted by the Specific Patterns of the applied Magnetic Fields, Not by Suggestability: Re-analysis of 19 Experiments” International Journal of Neuroscience vol 116, 2006, p 1079-96.


The experience was scarier when the right hemisphere of the brain is stimulated. Apparitions appearing to the left side were usually considered frightening, and to the right side considered angelic. P. 223.


When asked if there was any possibility that the EMF fluctuations in the field might represent an intelligent presence, his response was “This is a hypothesis well worth persuing.” [see Hauntings and Poltergeists Houran and Lange 2001, in which Persinger and Stan Koren wrote a chapter]


In 1969,  through the influence of anthropologist Margaret Mead, the Parapsychological Association was admitted into the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) p. 233


In about 1976, a new organization  was formed the “Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal Dr Marcello  Truzzi, who helped start CSICOP,  resigned several years later, saying that the evidence for paranormal phenomena should be examined by  qualified professionals, not merely condemned. He also said the work of Rhine and others was healthy; that they were investigating  matters that represent legitimate puzzle areas for science. P. 235.


With financial support from James McDonnell of McDonnell Douglas, PEAR was established at Princeton by Robert Jahn.


Physicist John Archibald Wheeler  condemned parapsychology in addressing the AAAS in Houston at a conference  called “The Role of Consciousness in the Physical World”, organized by Robert Jahn. Wheeler wanted the Parapsychological Association thrown out of AAAS. He accused Rhine of falsifying an experiment 50 years earlier and said he had a witness. The witness completely rejected the charges, and Wheeler was forced to write a retraction. P. 236 f.


The data collected by Rhine and his Parapsychology Lab sit in the Special Collections Library of Duke University, ignored for decades, and the researchers who devoted their careers are remembered as  liars, dupes, and incompetents if they are remembered at all. P. 239.


Betty McMahan wrote that the phenomena they studied were “tantalizing sparks thrown out by the universe- hints of how it is put together…


In 2001, Nobel Laureate Brian Josephson wrote “Quantum theory is now being fruitfully combined with theories of information and computation. These developments may lead to an explanation of processes still not understood within conventional science such as telepathy. P. 240.


Critics include Mark Hansel and William Feller. Hansel’s arguments were far fetched. Feller, a Princeton mathematician, advanced criticisms, several of which were shown to be wrong by Persi Diaonis, professor of statistics at Stanford. P. 244.


Rhine’s colleague and long time critic Don Adams expressed remorse in an essay “The Natural History of a Prejudice.”  He wrote: “I wanted not the truth, but to prove his positive conclusions were wrong.” He compares his reaction as a scientist against parapsychology to the reaction of the Fundamentalist Christian against information in conflict with their beliefs:  in both cases, there is the experience of seeing a belief, that you have considered fundamental to everything you value gradually but inexorably undermined. P. 245.


The Parapsychology Lab became the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, and is now called The Rhine Center: An Institute for Consciousness Research and Education, with Sally Rhine Feather, Rhine’s daughter as executive director. P. 246.