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Short history of psi research

I currently read a great book by Dr. Dean Radin titled Entangled Minds. I’ll post a complete review when I finish it but, for the time being, I found one chapter to be really interesting. It’s the chapter on history of parapsychology (psi) research.

As it looks from the book, much of the scientific research advances came as an interest in research various psi phenomena, such as telepathy and clairvoyance ,starting from early 17th century.

To give you a little taste of what psi research history is, I’ve compiled some of the more interesting examples from this book into a relatively short list. The book doesn’t contain all research done (for example it doesn’t contain work by Rupert Sheldrake) but I guess that it’s impossible to fit all of it in one book and Dr. Radin had to choose what to include. To fully enjoy the history, buy the book and read chapter 4 in the book. I’m sure you’ll find the rest of the book interesting as well. So, here is a short collection of psi research.

  1. Ancient China, about 1500BC, Shang dinasty. “Oracly bones” – oracle’s prophecies compared to outcomes.
  2. 1627, Sir Francis Bacon publishes “Sylva Sylvarium: A Natural Historie in Ten Centuries”. Proposed using cards and dice in psi experiments. Also foreseen the use of statistical analysis. Also proposed that meaningful targets (people) are better than not meaningful (cards, for example)
  3. Around 1780 Franz Anton Mesmer proposes the concept of “Animal Magnetism”. From his research develops hypnosis, psychoanalysis and psychoanalysis medicine.
  4. Around the same time one of Mesmer’s students Armaud Marie Jacques de Chastenet, aka Marquis de Puységur. Discovered the first method to evoke psi phenomena, through kind of deep hypnosis, called “magnetic somnambulism”.
  5. 1784 – French Academy of Sciences, chaired by Benjamin Franklin was to evaluate scientific status of mesmerism. Concluded that no evidence of “magnetic fluid” existed.
  6. 1784 – French Royal Society of Medicine asked to determine the medical benefits of Mesmer’s work. The same but minority report declared that some healing effects could not be attributed to placebo effect (called imagination at that time)
  7. Around 1830ies – French Royal Society of Medicine investigates psi phenomena. Described many witnessed psi experiences and had a totally positive outcome in favor of the existence of psi.
  8. Around 1848, distinguished British scientist Sir William Crookes studies Scottish medium Daniel Dunglas Home, who displayed unsurpassed abilities such as levitation.
  9. 1876, Sir William Barrett from Royal College of Science in Dublin presented research on “Thought transference”.
  10. 1882, London, Society for Psychical Research (SPR) is founded. It was the first scientific organization for the study of psi phenomena.
  11. Around 1888, French psychologist Charles Richet published an article describing experiments of telepathy. Used playing cards for testing and was the first to use statistical inference for studying telepathy. His conclusion was there did exists a faculty of cognition unrelated to the regular senses, at least in certain persons at certain times.
  12. Around 1903 Frederic Myers from SPR published “Human personality and its survival of bodily death” – one of the first books investigating survival of consciousness after death.
  13. Around 1908 British physicist J.J. Thomson proposed that electromagnetic fields carried information between people.
  14. 1911, Thomas Welton Stanford donates 20,000 pounds to Stanford university founded by his brother to establish “Psychic Fund”.
  15. 1917, Harvard psychologist Leonard Troland obtained successful results of psi with one of the first automated ESP testing machines.
  16. Around 1920, Paris, Institut Metapsychique Internatianal is founded.
  17. Around 1925, French researcher René Warcollier describes successful picture-drawing psi experiments in his book “La Télépathie”.
  18. Around 1929, biologist Joseph Banks Rhine (J.B. Rhine) started a psi research program at Duke University. Continued till 1965.
  19. Around 1935, J.B. Rhine published his book “Extra-Sensory Perception”.
  20. Around 1935, British psychologist G.N.M. Tyrell reported the development of an ESP testing machine with random target selection.
  21. 1937, Journal of Parapsychology began publication, founded by J.B.Rhine.
  22. Around 1939, Sir Hubert Wilkins and Harold Sherman conducted long distance (3000 miles) experiment in clairvoyance with remarkable results.
  23. During WW2, British psychologist Whately Carington conducted clairvoyance experiments involving drawing with large group of people with highly successful results.
  24. 1951, New York City, medium Eileen Garrett establishes the Parapsychological Foundation.
  25. 1957, the Parapsychological Association, international organization of scientists and scholars is founded.
  26. 1957, Czech physician Stepán Figar performed one of the first experiments testing subconscious forms of telepathy.
  27. 1965, two researchers from the Department of Ophthalmology at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia published an article in the Science journal titled “Extrasensory electroencephalographic induction between identical twins”. The results showed striking correlation between their minds.
  28. 1969, Helmut Schmidt, a German-American physicist used electronic coin flipper (RNG – random number generator) for testing psychokinesis (PK).
  29. 1972, Harold Puthoff, Russell Targ and Edwin May started a program of classified research on psi phenomena for the US government.
  30. 1973, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences after a successful ESP card experiment on the Apollo mission.
  31. 1979, Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) program started. Would be one of the leading psi research organizations.
  32. 1981, US congress asked the Congressional Research Service to assess the scientific evidence for psi. After 15 years 5 reviews by different organizations concluded that some experimental evidence for psi warrants serious study.
  33. 1985, Arthur Koestler and his wife gave funds to establish a Chair of parapsychology which was adopted by the University of Edinburgh.
  34. 1989, Sony Labs researcher Masaru Ibuka established a psi lab in Sony called ESPER. After several years it closed and they found the ESP does exist but had found how to use it practically.
  35. 1994, CIA made public a top secret psi research and application program code-named STARGATE.
  36. 1998-2000 Several companies started researching practical applications of psi.




  1. “1994, CIA made public a top secret psi research and application program code-named STARGATE.”

    Yes but you forget to mention that they stopped that programme because it was an absolute failure.

  2. “1951, New York City, medium Eileen Garrett establishes the Parapsychological Foundation.”

    Eileen Garrett was a fraud the R101 séances were exposed as a hoax, and she even confessed that her spirit controls were fictitious.

  3. “Sir William Crookes studies Scottish medium Daniel Dunglas Home, who displayed unsurpassed abilities such as levitation.”

    really? There was no levitation all he did was jump over a balcony from a connecting ledge, and Home was caught in fraud. You need to do some proper research mate.

  4. I have noticed a strange behavior especially among small children (my daughter at one time and now my Great-Grandson). It involves the game of concentration. My youngest daughter seemed to always win concentration from her older siblings (she was five years younger than her brother and seven years younger than her sister). About half way through the game she would just start picking all the rest of the cards in pairs. By watching the game after game, I tried to see if there was a possibility that she had somehow remembered all the cords, but I came to the conclusion that all the cards had not shown, yet, when she did this trick. It did seem magical – and she always won the game.

    My great-grandson seems to have the same ability, when he is interested in the game (he loses attention which is something my daughter never did). Again when he is concentrating (and his concentration is obvious) about half way through the game he starts picking up all the cards in pairs even though many of them had not yet played.

    There has to be some kind of ESP occurring here.

    Jerry Heath


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