My special guest Dr. Collum Cooper is here to discuss a very real phenomena concerning phone calls coming from paranormal entities. Pick up his book 'Telephone Calls From The Dead' at your local book shop or anywhere books are sold. Important: Due to some issues our team had to deal with on the backend we unfortunately had to pull hundreds of episodes at the end of last year. However, now that those issues are being resolved we're releasing NEW and putting our older episodes out again for your enjoyment. To make sure you get these older episodes in you're chosen listen app please make sure that you're subscribed or following our podcast.
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In 1911, Stanford University became the first academic institution in the United States to study extrasensory perception (ESP) and psychokinesis (PK) in a laboratory setting. The effort was headed by psychologist John Edgar Coover, and was supported by funds donated by Thomas Welton Stanford, brother of the university's founder. After conducting approximately 10,000 experiments, Coover concluded "statistical treatments of the data fail to reveal any cause beyond chance."
In 1930, Duke University became the second major U.S. academic institution to engage in the critical study of ESP and psychokinesis in the laboratory. Under the guidance of psychologist William McDougall, and with the help of others in the department—including psychologists Karl Zener, Joseph B. Rhine, and Louisa E. Rhine—laboratory ESP experiments using volunteer subjects from the undergraduate student body began. As opposed to the approaches of psychical research, which generally sought qualitative evidence for paranormal phenomena, the experiments at Duke University proffered a quantitative, statistical approach using cards and dice. As a consequence of the ESP experiments at Duke, standard laboratory procedures for the testing of ESP developed and came to be adopted by interested researchers throughout the world.
George Estabrooks conducted an ESP experiment using cards in 1927. Harvard students were used as the subjects. Estabrooks acted as the sender with the guesser in an adjoining room. In total 2,300 trials were conducted. When the subjects were sent to a distant room with insulation the scores dropped to chance level. Attempts to repeat the experiment also failed.
The publication of J. B. Rhine's book, New Frontiers of the Mind (1937) brought the laboratory's findings to the general public. In his book, Rhine popularized the word "parapsychology", which psychologist Max Dessoir had coined over 40 years earlier, to describe the research conducted at Duke. Rhine also founded an autonomous Parapsychology Laboratory within Duke and started the Journal of Parapsychology, which he co-edited with McDougall.
Rhine, along with associate Karl Zener, had developed a statistical system of testing for ESP that involved subjects guessing what symbol, out of five possible symbols, would appear when going through a special deck of cards designed for this purpose. A percentage of correct guesses (or hits) significantly above 20% was perceived as higher than chance and indicative of psychic ability. Rhine stated in his first book, Extrasensory Perception (1934), that after 90,000 trials, he felt ESP is "an actual and demonstrable occurrence".
Irish medium and parapsychologist, Eileen J. Garrett, was tested by Rhine at Duke University in 1933 with Zener cards. Certain symbols that were placed on the cards and sealed in an envelope, and she was asked to guess their contents. She performed poorly and later criticized the tests by claiming the cards lacked a psychic energy called "energy stimulus" and that she could not perform clairvoyance to order. The parapsychologist Samuel Soal and his colleagues tested Garrett in May 1937. Most of the experiments were carried out in the Psychological Laboratory at University College London. A total of over 12,000 guesses were recorded but Garrett failed to produce above chance level. In his report Soal wrote "In the case of Mrs. Eileen Garrett we fail to find the slightest confirmation of J. B. Rhine's remarkable claims relating to her alleged powers of extra-sensory perception. Not only did she fail when I took charge of the experiments, but she failed equally when four other carefully trained experimenters took my place."
The parapsychology experiments at Duke evoked much criticism from academics and others who challenged the concepts and evidence of ESP. A number of psychological departments attempted to repeat Rhine's experiments with failure. W. S. Cox (1936) from Princeton University with 132 subjects produced 25,064 trials in a playing card ESP experiment. Cox concluded "There is no evidence of extrasensory perception either in the 'average man' or of the group investigated or in any particular individual of that group. The discrepancy between these results and those obtained by Rhine is due either to uncontrollable factors in experimental procedure or to the difference in the subjects." Four other psychological departments failed to replicate Rhine's results. After thousands of card runs, James Charles Crumbaugh failed to duplicate the results of Rhine.
Hubert Pearce with J. B. Rhine
In 1938, the psychologist Joseph Jastrow wrote that much of the evidence for extrasensory perception collected by Rhine and other parapsychologists was anecdotal, biased, dubious and the result of "faulty observation and familiar human frailties". Rhine's experiments were discredited due to the discovery that sensory leakage or cheating could account for all his results such as the subject being able to read the symbols from the back of the cards and being able to see and hear the experimenter to note subtle clues.
Illusionist Milbourne Christopher wrote years later that he felt "there are at least a dozen ways a subject who wished to cheat under the conditions Rhine described could deceive the investigator". When Rhine took precautions in response to criticisms of his methods, he was unable to find any high-scoring subjects. Another criticism, made by chemist Irving Langmuir, among others, was one of selective reporting. Langmuir stated that Rhine did not report scores of subjects that he suspected were intentionally guessing wrong, and that this, he felt, biased the statistical results higher than they should have been.
Rhine and his colleagues attempted to address these criticisms through new experiments described in the book Extrasensory Perception After Sixty Years(1940). Rhine described three experiments the Pearce-Pratt experiment, the Pratt-Woodruff experiment and the Ownbey-Zirkle series which he believed demonstrated ESP. However, C. E. M. Hansel wrote "it is now known that each experiment contained serious flaws that escaped notice in the examination made by the authors of Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years". Joseph Gaither Pratt was the co-experimenter in the Pearce-Pratt and Pratt-Woodruff experiments at the Duke campus. Hansel visited the campus where the experiments took place and discovered the results could have originated through the use of a trick so could not be regarded as supplying evidence for ESP.
In 1957, Rhine and Joseph Gaither Pratt wrote Parapsychology: Frontier Science of the Mind. Because of the methodological problems, parapsychologists no longer utilize card-guessing studies. Rhine's experiments into psychokinesis (PK) were also criticized. John Sladek wrote:
His research used dice, with subjects 'willing' them to fall a certain way. Not only can dice be drilled, shaved, falsely numbered and manipulated, but even straight dice often show bias in the long run. Casinos for this reason retire dice often, but at Duke, subjects continued to try for the same effect on the same dice over long experimental runs. Not surprisingly, PK appeared at Duke and nowhere else.
The Ownbey-Zirkle ESP experiment at Duke was criticized by parapsychologists and skeptics.Ownbey would attempt to send ESP symbols to Zirkle who would guess what they were. The pair were placed in adjacent rooms unable to see each other and an electric fan was used to prevent the pair communicating by sensory cues. Ownbey tapped a telegraph key to Zirkle to inform him when she was trying to send him a symbol. The door separating the two rooms was open during the experiment, and after each guess Zirkle would call out his guess to Ownbey who recorded his choice. Critics pointed out the experiment was flawed as Ownbey acted as both the sender and the experimenter, nobody was controlling the experiment so Ownbey could have cheated by communicating with Zirkle or made recording mistakes.
The Turner-Ownbey long distance telepathy experiment was discovered to contain flaws. May Frances Turner positioned herself in the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory whilst Sara Ownbey claimed to receive transmissions 250 miles away. For the experiment Turner would think of a symbol and write it down whilst Ownbey would write her guesses. The scores were highly successful and both records were supposed to be sent to J. B. Rhine, however, Ownbey sent them to Turner. Critics pointed out this invalidated the results as she could have simply written her own record to agree with the other. When the experiment was repeated and the records were sent to Rhine the scores dropped to average.
A famous ESP experiment at the Duke University was performed by Lucien Warner and Mildred Raible. The subject was locked in a room with a switch controlling a signal light elsewhere, which she could signal to guess the card. Ten runs with ESP packs of cards were used and she achieved 93 hits (43 more than chance). Weaknesses with the experiment were later discovered. The duration of the light signal could be varied so that the subject could call for specific symbols and certain symbols in the experiment came up far more often than others which indicated either poor shuffling or card manipulation. The experiment was not repeated.
The administration of Duke grew less sympathetic to parapsychology, and after Rhine's retirement in 1965 parapsychological links with the university were broken. Rhine later established the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM) and the Institute for Parapsychology as a successor to the Duke laboratory. In 1995, the centenary of Rhine's birth, the FRNM was renamed the Rhine Research Center. Today, the Rhine Research Center is a parapsychology research unit, stating that it "aims to improve the human condition by creating a scientific understanding of those abilities and sensitivities that appear to transcend the ordinary limits of space and time".
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