Kirkus Reviews QR Code
PARAPSYCHOLOGY by Richard S. Broughton


The Controversial Science

by Richard S. Broughton

Pub Date: July 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-345-35638-1
Publisher: Ballantine

 A thoughtful and elegant report on what's been going on in the field of parapsychology since J.B. Rhine was shuffling ESP decks and Uri Geller was bending spoons. According to Broughton, director of research at the Institute for Parapsychology in Durham, N.C. (the successor to Rhine's famous Duke Univ. psi lab), a lot has been going on. Although parapsychology researchers and their subjects have kept low profiles for the past 20 years, experiments have proceeded at independent labs like the Durham facility, at US universities like Syracuse, Stanford, and Princeton, and abroad, in England, China, Russia, and elsewhere. Much of the research is not sexy--very little spoon-bending--but has to do with the probability theories inherent in quantum physics and the computer's ability to sort and analyze data. The growing database supports--weakly--the existence of psychic abilities, which the experts categorize not as mysterious forces but as unexplained events. Included are a goodly number of the lively stories that make parapsychology a fertile field for supermarket journals (``child levitates couch,'' ``psychic finds murder site''). The events remain unexplained for the most part, but the connections made between poltergeists and random-number-generated research reduces the titillation of the pop-psi approach. A straightforward, accessible defense of parapsychology as a real science.