|Chapter 1, titled "Escape From Reality, outlines this
book, which was written in the spirit of the following
"How important is scientific
reality? How much are we willing to pay to know it ourselves and
to have others know it? . . .
"Each of us creates an imaginary world as protection against
its real counterpart, adding to it, piece by piece, over the
years, until we have a comforting montage. In this process we
ignore ideas that cause anxiety. We welcome the familiar and
avoid the unknown. This description is as true in science as in
the rest of life. Throughout our picture building we take care
not to expose our innermost thoughts lest they be challenged. In
this way we ensure our mental stability….
"How much is progress worth? Perhaps it comes down to a
question of values. Are we willing, like Lady Godiva, to ride
naked before our colleagues so that mankind may escape the toll
of ignorance? Or do we treasure our privacy above our sense of
professional fulfillment? As scientists are we engaged in a
desperate search for reality, or are we members of a
comfort-loving elite, paid by society to play puzzle games with
nature? These are questions that might be asked of every
scientist. They have a special relevance for parapsychology.
Chapter 2 is a paper by a distinguished physical
scientist, C.K. Jen, who was born in 1906 in a remote village in
North China, received his graduate training in the U.S., and was
trapped in South China throughout World War II. At the time I
knew him he was at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
On a lecture visit to the PRC prior to 1983, Dr. Jen, at the
invitation of his host colleagues, had participated in three
demonstrations of ESP involving a dozen young children, who
successfully identified concealed Chinese ideographs with nearly
His son-in-law, Dr. Lewis Jacobson, was at that time a member
of my faculty parapsychological advisory committee. Through him,
I learned of Dr. Jen's parapsychological adventure and suggested
that it be formally reported in the parapsychological
When his paper was rejected for publication by the
Parapsychological Foundation of New York because it was too
spectacular to be believed, he graciously allowed it to be
included in this book, which was then in preparation.
In the light of my professional relations with C.K. Jen and my
personal relations with Lewis Jacobson and his wife, Dr Linda Jen
Jacobson, the daughter of C.K. Jen, Dr. Jen's paper must, in my
judgment, be accepted without reservation as establishing the
widespread occurrence of high level ESP among Chinese children as
The importance of Dr. Jen's paper was magnified by a paper
"Parapsychology in the People's Republic of China: 1979 - 1989"
by Leping Zha and Tron McConnell (Journal of the American Society
for Psychical Research, 85, 119 - 143, April 1991). Dr. Zha, a
physicist, was educated in China and the USA. His principal
industrial experience has been in magnetic resonance imaging. My
son, Tron, with an active interest in parapsychology since 1972,
provided editorial support.
This 1991 paper, with 59 references to Chinese research, begins
with a review of ESP among children under the Chinese name
"Exceptional Functions of the Human Body." The experimentation
spread to educational and research centers in large cities. On
the basis of more than 500 trained scholars from more than 100
centers, it was estimated that ESP could be evoked in about 50%
of children from roughly age 6 to 12, above which this seemingly
innate ability disappears.
The publicity associated with the child ESP drew critical
attention, and, as a result, interest shifted to Qigong as
performed by adult, highly trained "Qigong Masters" as a part of
"Traditional Chinese Medicine." Qigong divides into two forms:
"internal energy Qigong" (ESP) and "external energy Qigong" (PK).
The demonstrated effects resulted in high governmental and
scientific interest both favoring and opposing Qigong research.
As a result of unseemly publicity surrounding this controversy,
the Party ruled in 1982 that all publicity on this topic must
From 1983 to 1986, research centered within the Institute of
Space Medico-Engineering with spectacular results by Qigong
Masters. Beginning in 1986, Qigong burst into public attention as
a Chinese cultural activity despite the ban against publicity.
This activity was carried on as a money-making activity by
numerous self-proclaimed Qigong Masters until the Beijing events
of June 1989. Dr. Zha closed his paper with a warning that fraud
and commercialization would soon lead to an adverse reaction at a
high political level.
On 29 November 2001, Dr Zha delivered a lecture titled "Review
of History, Findings, and Implications of Research on Exceptional
Functions of the Human Body" at a five-day conference in Hawaii
addressed to a mixed-level audience on bridge building between
science and alternative medicine.
In the hard copy draft available to me (26 pages in length), Dr
Zha expanded and continued his 1991 report. The new material
described the opposition to external energy Qigong after the
Beijing events of June 1989. More recently, the government has
forcefully prosecuted "Falun Qigong" practitioners who have
encouraged a cult religious movement involving many thousands of
adherents, some of whom would rather die than renounce their new
The publication of Dr. Zha's 2001 report will be welcomed.
Meanwhile, I am inclined to give credence to the report's
delicately handled account of gross PK. My interest in this
account is made possible by my knowledge of the experience of two
professional scientists, well known to me, who, to their own
initial dismay, have produced "Uri Geller spoon bending." In one
instance the phenomenon was repeated in my presence.
Chapters 3-5. In 1955 with R.J. Snowdon and K.F.
Powell, I published a tightly controlled dice experiment
(Journal of Experimental Psychology, 50, 269-275).
Subsequently, assisted by T.K. Clark, I carried out an analysis
of variance and an extended study of target-face distributions
among the 167,000 thrown die faces. We prepared two papers whose
findings we considered to be a major contribution to the
literature of experimental psychokinesis. Chapter 3 discusses the
rejection of these papers by the Journal of Parapsychology
and The Journal of the American Society for Psychical
Research. The papers themselves follow in Chapters 4 and 5. A
condensation of these papers appears in Chapter 14 of my textbook
Parapsychology in the Context of Science.
Chapter 6 tells in detail how my colleague, Dr. Thelma K.
Clark, was required by an unfriendly faculty to spend 12 years
earning an interdepartmental doctor of philosophy degree in
biophysics and physiological psychology so that she might work
with me in parapsychology. That the hurdles were high may be
inferred from the following:
Based on rat brain surgery, her doctoral research led
eventually to papers in Science, 190 (1975), 169-171, of
which she was the senior author, and to papers in Behavioral
and Neural Biology, 25(1979), 271-300, and in Brain
Research, 202(1980), 429-443, of which she was the sole
The book closes in Chapter 7 with an invited lecture I
gave in 1982 at Cambridge University on the occasion of the 100th
anniversary of the founding of the (British) Society for
Psychical Research and the 25th anniversary of the founding of
the Parapsychological Association.
I titled the lecture "Parapsychology, the Wild Card in a
Stacked Deck" As I summarized it then, "The runaway train of
history is whistling down the track upon us. If we have not heard
it, that is because we prefer not to listen." I made a number of
predictions for the year 2000 (some of which have been
In that lecture I regretted the false optimism of the
Global 2000 Report to the President, published in 1980. I
accused its authors of using a straight edge ruler to perform a
miracle of loaves and fishes. (They had merely extrapolated grain
and ocean yields from 1960, through 1975, to 2000.) As I saw it,
the assumption implied by the 1980 report was that "God will send
a space ship to carry our surplus population off to a new planet.
To future historians this hope may be known as the white man's