In the summer of 1962, someone passed along a message to J. B. Rhine that was supposed to have come from the ghost of “Johnnie Thomas.” John Thomas was the name of the man who first brought the Rhines to Duke University in order to study communications from his dead wife. Among other things, the ghost claimed that Rhine, “has not advanced much above all of these other material things, and he cannot go on indefinitely in this …”
Rhine was getting a lot of grief at the time about his lack of progress in finding evidence for life after death, and I had to laugh when I read that because apparently even the dead were anxious for progress.
Thomas would have been even more dismayed by Rhine statements in the Parapsychology Bulletin that year. He announced that, “for many years there has been a sharp decline of interest in the survival problem, with a considerable dimming of hope that parapsychology can produce a definite answer.”
That was true of the scientific community, who were never terribly interested in survival in the first place, even if they were, for a time, curious to see what he’d come up with. What Rhine saw was an end to whatever leeway they had extended.
But everywhere else interest was increasing and it’s been increasing slowly ever since. I just checked the most recent Harris and Gallops polls. I’m disappointed that they no longer ask about ESP or telepathy, and now only ask about belief in ghosts, the devil, reincarnation, and so on. Nonetheless, here is what I found:
– 42 percent of the respondents in a 2009 Harris poll said that they believed in ghosts (up from 40 percent in 2005).
– 71 percent believe in the survival of the soul after death (up from 69 percent in 2005).