Obituary: Carroll Blue Nash

Article excerpt

Carroll Blue Nash, one of parapsychology's elder statesmen, passed away on May 30, 1998, at the age of 84. He died at Palomar Hospital in Escondido, California, from complications resulting from surgery on a crushed right femur.

Carroll was born on January 19, 1914, in Louisville, Kentucky. He was born into parapsychology, one might say, because his mother's interest in the psychical goings-on of her day inclined him to believe in psi also, as he wrote in some autobiographical notes. He was one of the "old-timers" in the field - those who ventured into experimental ESP and psychokinesis long before such concepts nudged the consciousness of the general public. His wife's comment at the time of his death was, "He loved parapsychology."

In his growing-up years, he was especially interested in spiritualistic activities. While his father moved the family between states as dictated by his work, Carroll visited spiritualist camps and attended seances which often featured materializations in red light. He reported himself as being unconvinced of their authenticity, and he finally turned his attention to formal scientific research.

When he had accomplished his academic goals - a B.S. from George Washington University (1934) and a Master's (1937) and Doctorate (1939) from the University of Maryland - he began a double program as a teacher of biology in any one of a number of universities and as a persistent and dedicated researcher, author, lecturer, and general promoter of parapsychology wherever he was located. Finally, in 1948, he became head of the Biology Department of St. Joseph's, a Jesuit university in Philadelphia, where, in addition to his teaching, he established a parapsychology laboratory. (Carroll was not Catholic.) His publications during this long period amounted to more than 120 scientific articles and two parapsychology textbooks, The Science of Psi, ESP, and PK and Parapsychology: The Science Psiology. Carroll retired to California and the laboratory closed in 1987.

Upon reading about J. B. Rhine's early testing of ESP with cards, the notion came to Carroll to test psychokinesis with dice. He did not know of Rhine's unpublished dice experiments; but, at the time, as an instructor in zoology at the University of Arizona, he had a body of students whom he could test. This was in 1939 and was the start of a line of PK investigations which were continued as the Nashes went to posts in American University and Washington College (1945-48), and finally to St. Joseph's and the establishment of the parapsychology laboratory there.

As a parapsychologist, Carroll had his own special style. He promoted the field, not just through his teaching, but even more so through his extensive social contacts. …