Seymour Mauskopf

I went down to Durham to give talks about my book for Duke University and for the Rhine Research Center. At the one for the Rhine Research Center I was co-presenting with Sy Mauskopf, a Duke professor and science historian and the author of The Elusive Science: Origins of Experimental Psychic Research (with Michael McVaugh), which I link to on the right.

God those Duke students are lucky, what a treasure he is. You had to be there, but he was just one of those teachers who has the perfect combination of smart, engaging, generous, he is such a good story teller.  Some teachers want to … not sure how to put this, intone.  And others, it’s like they figured out this great thing and can’t wait to tell you.  That’s Sy.  He gave a presentation which put parapsychology in historical context.  Among other things, he talked about Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn, and the demarcation between science and pseudo-science, Isaac Newton and alchemy, it was a great talk.  He was awarded the Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award (I’m not surprised).

I just looked up his bio on Duke:  “My research interests in the history of science have been quite varied over the years; they include the history of chemistry and allied sciences in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Crystals and Compounds, 1976), the history of chemical technology, focusing on munitions and explosives and the history of parapsychology and marginal science (The Elusive Science: Origins of Experimental Psychical Research, with Michael R. McVaugh, 1980). I have edited two books reflective of these different interests: The Reception of Unconventional Science (1979) and Chemical Sciences in the Modern World (1993).”

Jealous.  I want to write another historical book about science.  Anyway, if you’re a Duke University student, take his class!

The Trumpet Medium Returns

“A fine example of unformed ectoplasm extending up to the levitated trumpet.”

That was written on the back of this photograph.  I’m posting it because I was at the Rhine Research Center yesterday scanning photographs, and I came across a photograph I had scanned before of this medium, which I posted last month.  I noticed I had his name wrong.  It’s actually Edward C. Wood.  I had Ed Moor.

UPDATE: I’m told that the medium in this picture is Leonard Stott. 

Eileen Garrett – A Medium

This is a picture of the medium Eileen Garrett. She helped secure the initial funding that established the Parapsychology Laboratory (from Francis Bolton, who I will post about later). Garrett also put herself at the lab’s disposal for any tests they wished.  

I liked collecting her descriptions of her trance state.  She was smart and articulate, and they give an interesting peek into the process.

“I conceive of yesterday, today, and tomorrow as a single curve … time loses reality and the past and present and future are present in one instant.”  Then she writes how either thoughts, images or sounds come to her, and while she calls the process indefinite, it’s “almost electric in its reception.  One knows.”

In an article in Tomorrow magazine, where she’s talking about ghosts, she says they don’t always appear as spectres, “but often as warm, living breathing people.  Where are they?”  And that’s where it got really interesting to me, because she didn’t just see ghostly people, but also buildings and places and woods that were no longer there.  “… into the purple, more intense than all, I see rare plants and all kinds of growth, and then I am unable to find any words that could translate this experience …” 

It’s always frustrating how ghosts never really have anything substantive to say.  But Garrett said that “much of importance is transmitted,” but we neither understand what is seen or have the ability to translate it.  I had trouble penetrating some of the messages she communicated, but I would love to get someone like the Dalai Lama, or, more realistically, a similarly educated Tibetan monk, to take a look at them.  

Garrett was open to all possible explanations for her visions.  Were they discarnate beings?  Or was she crazy?  At least she had a sense of humor about it.  She once quipped, “on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I think that they are actually what they claim to be … on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I think they are multiple personality split-offs I have invented to make my work easier … on Sunday I try not to think about the problem.”

Cold Cases and Psychics

Part of the point of this book was to get away from unsolved murder, the subject of my last book.  But it just kept coming up. I had started researching a missing child in California named Bruce Kremen, whose family contacted the Parapsychology Laboratory for help.  

This led to a chapter I already mentioned about psychics, and, not surprisingly, to murder after murder. Among them was 6 year old Judith Ann Roberts, who was killed in 1954.  I talked to the original detective on the case, now in his 80’s, and he remembered talking to Peter Hurkos, one of the psychics who had gotten involved with the Kremen case.

I was trying to find a picture of Judith, but all I could find was this much copied photograph that’s been so re-touched she looks ghastly.  There’s only a tiny section in my book about Judith, it’s a truly horrific story.

From a Miami Herald article by Luisa Yanez: “An intruder breaks into a Miami home late at night and kidnaps a 6-year-old girl from her bed. Within hours, her body is dumped on a desolate road in Coconut Grove. She had been beaten, strangled and sexually molested.  The 1954 murder of Judith Ann Roberts, just a month before her seventh birthday, was Miami’s first media-soaked, high-profile murder of a child.  Call it South Florida’s version of today’s JonBenet Ramsey murder mystery.  The abduction and slaying of a little girl visiting her grandparents rocked small-town Miami, where folks until then thought nothing of leaving their doors unlocked at night. Across the country, headlines trumpeted news of a sex maniac on the prowl in sunny Miami.”

The psychic Peter Hurkos said he’d crack Judith’s case within two weeks, but fifty years later Judith Ann Roberts’ murder is still unsolved and under investigation by Detective Andy Arostegui of the Miami Cold Case Squad.

I posted earlier that after a bad experience with Peter Hurkos, the lab refused to give out the names of psychics.  It’s not that they didn’t believe some might have abilities, but they couldn’t find any evidence that they could control them, and there was no way of verifying the information they got, even if it was correct.

Speaking of Research

I love when reviews mention the research.  Because I really did work hard.  And Rick Kleffel mentioned it twice in his review on The Agony Column on Bookotron.  

“… whether or not you believe in such phenomena [telepathy, poltergeists, etc.] is irrelevant to your ability to enjoy Horn’s book. It’s an exciting, immaculately researched, complicated answer to a question that has no simple answer: “Do you believe?” 

“Readers with an interest in matters Fortean will enjoy the almost novelistic style and Horn’s extensive research. She’s refreshingly without agenda, and offers up lots of fascinating details about the longest and perhaps best study of the “paranormal.” 

Thank you, Rick!  This is the Rhines in Paris.

Going Back Down to Duke

I’m going back down to Durham tomorrow.  I’m going to be giving two presentations, one for Duke and one for the Rhine Research Center.

I’m also going back to Special Collections to go through some new boxes of archives, and then back to the Rhine Research Center to scan more photographs. 

I’m so excited. Who knows what new surprises I might find? Hopefully I will be back with parapsychology presents for everyone.  

That’s a picture of me at the Special Collections Library at Duke when I was researching this book.  Ohmygod.  I just looked to see when I posted that. March 16, 2006.  Almost three years ago to the day.

Michio Kaku

I’ve been collecting quotes I like. This one comes from theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, and I got it from his book Physics of the Impossible.  He puts telepathy and psychokinesis in the category of things he describes as:  “impossible today, but do not violate the known laws of physics.  So they might be possible in this century, or perhaps the next, in modified form.”

I have to point out that I read Kaku’s book, and when he and Rhine talk about telepathy and psychokinesis, they are not talking about the same thing. They have a different understanding, and this can’t be taken, for instance, as validating the work of the Parapsychology Lab.  In fact, he has a section about their work where he points out problems (I have an answer to every issue he raises, and pretty much all of them are addressed in my book).  But having different ideas and theories is fine.  The point is he has an open mind.  I also saw him speak once and even when he completely disagrees about something he is gracious, and doesn’t feel the need to be hostile and condescending.  I like the guy.