McConnell, author, editor and publisher, tells what he learned
and did in his first forty years of parapsychological research in
the Physics and Biological Sciences Departments at the University
Part I. The first seven chapters of this book, are titled
"Light." The remainder are titled "Shadow." Chapter 1 is a
lecture dedicated in gratitude to the Department of Biological
Sciences and to the University of Pittsburgh by Professor
McConnell, and delivered to departmental colleagues and other
friends, 17 May 1984, on the occasion of his appointment as
Research Professor Emeritus.
Chapter 2 "Probing the
Elephant of Scientific Opinion" describes the worldwide
distribution to more than 20 geographical areas of 4833 gift
copies of the author's books (Encounters with Parapsychology,
Parapsychology and Self-deception in Science, and
Introduction to Parapsychology in the Context of Science),
to libraries (2891 copies) and persons (1942 copies), with and
without preceding offers. Recipients included foreign members of
the Society for Neuroscience, editorial advisors to brain science
journals, Nobel laureates residing in the USA, Fellows of the
Royal Society of London, U.S. college libraries, and U.S.
secondary school libraries.
Chapter 3 is introduced as follows:
"For forty years I have wandered in the wilderness of
parapsychological data. When in January 1985 we completed the
main analysis of the falling-dice experiment reported in the next
chapter, for the first time in my mind, hope was replaced by an
inner certainty that the phenomena of parapsychology will some
day be understood by the method of science. Beyond that, I could
now believe, as I had long suspected, that psi occasionally
affects the outcome of ordinary scientific experiments.
Criticisms of the psychokinetic experiment reported in Chapter
4 were invited from more than 500 scientists and scholars. The
interest or lack of interest shown is reported and commented
upon. In separate chapter appendixes, I present critical
correspondence concerning the Chapter 4 experiment with two
eminent physicists, Luis W. Alvarez and John S. Bell.
Chapter 4 titled "The Anomalous Fall of Dice" by R.A.
McConnell and T.K. Clark is formally presented on pages 56-88.
The authors' co-experimenter in the gathering of data was Dr.
Margaret L Anderson. This research was financially supported by
the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust. The abstract of
this experiment follows:
"Five hundred, self-selected college students each separately
donated one hour of his or her time to investigate the so-called
psychokinetic effect in which the fall of gambling dice is
supposedly influenced directly by the wishing of the player. The
students were given the task of releasing by remote control six
wooden dice while wishing those dice to tumble individually
toward one side or the other of a scaled playing table.
"The faces of each die were marked in the usual manner with
one to six circular spots. The direction of desired motion
depended upon each upcoming die face. For the first six of twelve
releases, the student was asked to wish the dice with low faces
(1, 2, and 3) to go to the low coordinate side of the table and
dice with high faces (4, 5, and 6) to go to the high side. In the
remaining six releases, the student was asked to reverse the
direction of wishing
Starting instructions were given by audio magnetic tape. The
dice-releasing process was controlled by release-counting relays
and monitored by a motion-picture camera, which recorded the dice
throughout their time of travel. The field of the camera included
a serially numbered card showing the student's name, a
time-of-day clock, a high-speed elapsed-time clock, an
automatically advanced display of both the release number and the
wishing instructions, and a spherical mirror image of the entire
Each student was supervised by one of two experimenters, A or
M. After hearing the instruction tape, the student was given the
choice of having the experimenter present in the room or absent
from it while the dice were being released.
Before statistical analysis, the effect of wishing for faces
4, 5, and 6 was reversed by reflecting their transverse
coordinates across the grand mean of the experiment using the
Y' = 78 - Y. In this way, all nonpsychophysical effects were
Analyses of variance were based upon the release means,
thereby ensuring independence and normality of the dependent
Overall, the data showed statistical significance for Releases
and for session Halves by Releases. When the data were broken
down into experimenter groups, significant interactions were
found between M-present and M-absent, and between M-absent and
The overall ANOVA was verified by independent re-analysis of
the data, starting with the motion-picture film and ending with a
different ANOVA computer program. As an additional precaution,
the smallest, single group probability (p = .0008), which came
from less than 20% of the subjects, was independently verified by
hand calculator using the raw data on magnetic tape.
Because of the controls employed, only one conclusion is
believed to be possible. Either the outcome of the experiment
represents a rare chance event, or the behavior of the dice was
directly affected by the conscious thinking of the subjects
Moreover, the analyses suggest that different experimenters
can affect the fall of dice differently even when those
experimenters are absent from the dice room.
The extra-chance scoring patterns of this repeated-trial
experiment, bear no recognized relation to the serrated decline
of success that is sometimes found in synchronism with
test-and-rest data-gathering patterns. The dual wishing task of
this experiment has made possible both the elimination of
adventitious physical causation and the demonstration of dice
effects presumably caused by, but not conforming to, the
conscious wishing of subjects and/or experimenters. This may
imply a conceptually new class of psychokinesis.
Chapter 5 (1) briefly summarizes my 39 years of contact
with call-in psychics needing help and (2) describes how the
clergy of organized religion are often, if not usually, either
psychics or mystics.
Chapter 6 describes how Neal Miller, a member of the
National Academy of Sciences and quondam president of the
American Psychological Association, probably, but unknowingly,
performed psychokinetic experiments on rats while attempting to
replicate work by Leo DiCara. To quote Miller, "To make a long
story short, we began to feel as though we were wandering at
midnight through a haunted forest with strange unknown things
rustling past us in the dark."
DiCara's experiments seemed to imply operant learning of
autonomic function. To understand the strong feelings engendered
by his work, one must recognize that the question of autonomic
control goes beyond curing the sick. A whole philosophy of life
was at stake: nature versus nurture--the question of the
perfectability of man by education. It was a great relief to
many, therefore, when order was restored to the world of learning
ten years later and the genie was (supposedly) returned to its
bottle by an 80 page study of the DiCara-Miller anomalies in
which L.E. Roberts concluded "…all successful operant
learning of autonomic function in curarized rats must have
involved manipulational mistakes in the conditioning
Chapter 7 deals primarily with the work of Elmer and
Alyce Green at the Menninger Foundation on the biofeedback
facilitation of autonomic training and the work of J.G. and H.H.
Watkins on ego-state therapy and multiple personality.
Your author suspects that medical treatments as diverse as
biofeedback, hypnosis, acupuncture, and progressive relaxation,
along with disorders classified as psychosomatic, dissociative,
and autonomic, all involve psychokinesis by the therapist or by
the patient, and that this idea will ultimately unify what is now
called "behavioral medicine."
Part II of this book. The following excerpts from its
Introduction set the stage:
"In this book I try to do two things: (1) convey my
understanding of parapsychology as an infant science in an
irrational world, and (2) display in various ways what may be the
most general and over-arching principle of human behavior:
namely, that we are all mentally ill.
"For the near future, the recognition and acceptance of this
fact is, I believe, more important than the advancement of
parapsychology. Unless, by an effort of the will, we attain
sanity in this historical instant, there will be no future for
any of us. My reasons for this belief are illuminated in my final
"We are all ill in that, both individually and collectively,
we systematically engage in behavior that is maladaptive for our
survival. Our present mode of circumscribed thinking may have
been appropriate for each in his own ecological niche, but the
cultural eco-system is crumbling. For survival, we must acquire a
constant peripheral awareness of our every-day self deceptions
and must unceasingly re-examine our articles of faith.
"We are in an evolutionary transition from unconscious to
conscious beings. This is a crucial interval while we have gained
the power to destroy ourselves but do not yet understand our
spiritual nature. Can we change soon enough? That is the
Chapters 8 - 11 reveals the darker side of
parapsychology and have the common theme: self deception. The
reader must decide, "Who is self-deceived?"
Chapter 12, titled "Forces of Darkness: Psychic
Policemen," is an in-depth study of opposition to parapsychology
under the leadership of an organization incorporated as The
Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the
Paranormal (CSICOP). This chapter illuminates the scope of the
opposition to parapsychology by scientists (as distinct from
opposition by fundamentalist Christians).
This compact 26-page survey covers the history of CSICOP, its
legal status, financial success, objectives, tactics, leaders,
internal disagreements, running dogs, distinguished Fellows,
official journal (The Skeptical Inquirer, whose subscriber
list has doubled in ten years to 50,000 as of 1999), its
cooperating publisher, Prometheus Books, and its local and
international affiliated organizations. Included is a summary of
the content and style of the first ten years of The Skeptical
Inquirer, showing violations of its proclaimed intellectual
I discuss CSICOP's confounding of popular superstition with
parapsychology and its response to the best parapsychological
I summarize an invited lecture I gave in an
anti-parapsychology course at the University of Pittsburgh taught
by a deeply religious and locally active member of CSICOP.
Included in this chapter is a summary of Yale Psychology
Professor I.L. Child's 1985 study (from the American
Psychological Association's American Psychologist,
40,1219-1230) of the systematic misrepresentation in five
psychology books of the Maimonides Hospital ESP dream
In Chapter 13, under the title "A wild card against the
ace of spades," I give a five-year update (as of 1987) on the
near future of mankind. New material: Corporation merger madness.
Marijuana is now the largest cash crop in California. A
documentation of the technical impracticality of the Strategic
Defense Initiative. Will AIDS resolve the African population
problem? To be saleable, vicarious sex and violence must be just
a little more daring than yesterday. Will the scientific study of
the human mind destroy the glue that holds the Jewish people
together? The destruction of the Himalayan watershed as a
predictor of Third World mass starvation. Exporting jobs will
destroy our middle class. The worldwide TV celebration of
starvation in Ethiopia. President Reagan's population policy at
Mexico City. The vulnerability of a computer-managed economy.