I spent nearly 30 years working in parapsychology, initially as a
believer in the paranormal but later as a sceptic. I eventually
concluded that the experimental evidence does not support the
existence of any paranormal phenomena at all. The most crucial
experience in my change of opinion was investigating Carl Sargent's
On paper his research looked beautifully designed, and the results
were impressive. They certainly convinced many people of the validity
of ESP in the ganzfeld. Only by visiting his laboratory and seeing how
the experiments were actually carried out did I discover that his
published results were worthless.
I have published two accounts of that visit.
The first is an article in
the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 1987. This explains
how the article came to be written, as well as describing the
investigation. It was published along with responses from Trevor
Harley, Gerald Matthews and Carl Sargent.
The second is an excerpt
from my book In Search of the
Light. This book was
originally published as The Adventures of a Parapsychologist in
1986. I intended to describe the Sargent affair then, but after
threats from Sargent I did not. When the book was republished in 1996
I added three more chapters. One of these concerns the visit to
Cambridge. It tells the story of the visit and also explains why the
Sargent data are still important twenty years on.
Page created 14 October 2003