Basic Research in Parapsychology. (Book Review)

Article excerpt

BASIC RESEARCH IN PARAPSYCHOLOGY by K. R. Rao (Ed.).Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, Inc., 2001. Pp. ix + 408. $39.95 (softbound). isbn 0-7864-1008-6.

In 1984, Dr. Rao published The Basic Experiments in Parapsychology, comprised of a short introduction and 15 chapters, each containing the reprint of an article drawn from the experimental parapsychology literature. Each chapter also contained a brief introduction by Rao setting the experiment in context, explaining its importance for parapsychology, and pointing the reader to further reading. Each experimental article had been published in a peer-reviewed journal and had been chosen to illustrate high-quality research reports made available to the public and to academics, neither of whom would have ready access to the highly specialized and not readily available sources from which they were drawn. It was thus intended as a general introduction to parapsychology, in particular the experimental literature, illustrating the research with specific and representative examples. The present volume is an updated version, modified and expanded to address a broader range of needs and to correct some of the limitations of the earlier work.

In his Preface, Rao sets out his goals for the new book, comparing it with Basic Experiments, Eight of the original chapters have been retained, 3 new experimental reports have been included, and 7 chapters dealing with reviews of sections of the experimental literature have been included as well, for a total of 19 chapters. Thus, without substantially increasing the length to unwieldy proportions, Rao hopes to continue to provide illustrations of the diversity of high-quality research, as well as give a more complete picture of the evidence in cumulative form, reflecting the replicability of the various effects. Specifically, he states that he has chosen his experimental articles to illustrate a diversity of procedures, reflect major trends, represent the state of the art in present-day experimental research, and provide viable and promising procedures for readers desiring to conduct research on their own. He acknowledges that there are inevitably many omissions and that he has decided not to include any ske ptical chapters, as criticisms of the research can be found both in the articles themselves and in his introductory commentary.

My main comments on the organization of the book can be covered with a more specific look at the Introduction as it weaves together the various themes represented by its individual chapters. First, it would be helpful to take note of the chapters themselves.

Chapter 2 is "A Review of the Pearce--Pratt Distance Series of ESP Tests," by J. B. Rhine and J. C. Pratt, published in the Journal of Parapsychology (JP) in 1954. Chapter 3 is "PK Tests With a High-Speed Random Number Generator," by Helmut Schmidt, published in the JP in 1973. Chapter 4 is "Correlates of Random Binary Sequences With Prestated Operator Intention: A Review of a 12-Year Program," by R. C. Jahn, B. J. Dunne, R. D. Nelson, Y. H. Dobyns and G. J. Bradish, from the 1997 Journal of Scientific Exploration (JSE). Chapter 5 is "Statistically Robust Anomalous Effects: Replication in Random Event Generator Experiments," by Roger Nelson and Dean Radin, from the 1988 Research in Parapsychology. Chapter 6 is "Transcontinental Remote Viewing," by Marilyn Schlitz and Elmar Gruber, from the 1980 JP. Chapter 7 is "An Assessment of the Evidence for Psychic Functioning," by Jessica Utts, from the 1996 JSE. Chapter 8 is "A Laboratory Approach to the Nocturnal Dimension of Paranormal Experience: Report of a Confirm atory Study Using the REM Monitoring Technique," by Montague Ullman and Stanley Krippner, in the 1969 Biological Psychiatry. Chapter 9 is "Psychology and Anomalous Experience: The Question of ESP in Dreams," by Irvin Child, from the 1985 American Psychologist. Chapter 10 is "Experimenter Effects and the Detection of Remote Staring," by Richard Wiseman and Marilyn Schlitz, from the 1997 JP. …