During the 1930s a new approach to exploring human consciousness began at Duke University with Professor J. B. Rhine’s experimental research on extra-sensory perception, or ESP. His findings on telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis challenged conventional disbelief. Rhine’s findings and his first popular book, New Frontiers of the Mind, ignited excitement and controversy—among not only scientists but the public at large. Rhine’s letters chronicle his efforts to find reliable evidence of psychic ability, from the séance room to psychic animals and finally to a university research laboratory. Covering the years 1923–1939, they reveal a gripping story of groundbreaking research, told in the words of the main player as he worked with his team, subjects, critics and supporters alike.
“J.B. Rhine, Letters 1923-1939 is an enthrallingly readable resource that casts a rare light on the decision-making and challenges, sometimes personal, faced by Rhine and his collaborators in cementing the status of parapsychology as an academic discipline. The introductory materials by the book’s editors are also a helpful and sprightly resource. In a current era dominated by cynicism and reactivity, this book reminds us of the courage, civility, and unwavering ethics that JB Rhine brought to his work. Even those without direct interest in psychical research will find in this book a characterological study from which all students, intellectuals, teachers, and scientists can learn.”—Mitch Horowitz, PEN Award-winning author of Occult America and Uncertain Places
“This remarkable collection of J. B. Rhine’s letters provides a panorama of his early interest in psychic phenomena and its evolution over three decades. His careful articulation and descriptions, his modesty and sense of humor, as well as his open-mindedness was balanced by his scientific analysis, especially in unmasking a “medium” who he found to be using deception during her “seances.” The letters often refer to Rhine’s wife, Louisa, who was his co-worker from the beginning. One of many surprises is how their linguistic skills enabled them to translate European documents; another is how he originally worked as a salesperson to meet basic living expenses.
There are letters to Gardner Murphy, C.G. Jung, Eileen Garrett, B. F. Skinner, J. M. Cattell, Joseph Jastrow, Charlie Chaplin, Clifton Fadiman, Hamlin Garland, E. G. Boring, Walter Franklin Price, H.L. Mencken, Upton Sinclair, Vladimir Bekhterev, and William McDougall who hired him to teach at Duke University and with whom he founded the Parapsychology Laboratory and the Journal of Parapsychology. It was at Duke that Rhine started to use the term “extra-sensory perception” and developed a card-guessing paradigm to measure it.
The collection ends in 1939, a year marked by the famed American Psychological Association debate, the preparation of the seminal volume Extrasensory Perception After Sixty Years, and following the death of his mentor William McDougall. This opus is of inestimable value as it details the scientific and intellectual progress made by, arguably, one of the 20th century’s most important pioneers of science.”
~Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., American Psychologist
“I think you’ll be surprised at how many will respond to this book, because it isn’t ‘just a dry book of letters’ but tells a real and very interesting story as well – and your website explains that.”
~Rosie Rhine, daughter of J. B. Rhine
“The important take-away of J. B’s correspondence is that I learned about J. B.—the man. This is usually missing from academic writing. What impressed me the most about J. B.—the man, was his gentle approach to the topic of psi while talking to notables (proponents, participants, and skeptics) of the day such as Eileen Garrett, William McDougall, B.F. Skinner, Aldous Huxley, Upton Sinclair, Helen Keller and Charlie Chaplin to name but a few. As I browsed through the collection, I realized it could be considered as an “instruction manual” for today’s researchers who appear to be consumed with convincing the skeptics of our day. J. B. was able to accomplish this feat without compromising his research academic rigor.”
~Edwin C. May, co-editor of The Star Gate Archives: “I have been involved in psi research since my first experiment in PK in 1971 while still a post doc in the nuclear physics laboratory at the University of California at Davis. Beginning in 1976, I have enjoyed full-time employment in psi research as part of the US Government’s psi program called Star Gate.”