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Template:Infobox organization The American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) is an organisation dedicated to parapsychology based in New York, where it maintains offices and a library. It is open to interested members of the public to join, and has a website. It also publishes the quarterly Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.[1]


HistoryEdit

The American Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1884 [2] and became formally active in 1885 in Boston, Massachusetts, with astronomer Simon Newcomb as first President. It was inspired by the 1882 founding in Britain of the Society for Psychical Research which supported the initiative, and sent dedicated psychic researcher and amateur conjuror Richard Hodgson to oversee the new Society, a task he performed till his death. In 1889 a financial crisis forced the ASPR to become a branch of the Society for Psychical Research, and Simon Newcomb and others left.[3] It achieved independence once more in 1906.[4]


Following the death of Richard Hodgson in 1905, James H. Hyslop took up the Presidential position of the recreated organisation. The society moved to New York, where it remains to this day. During this period the ASPR were heavily involved in the investigation of purported medium Leonora Piper.


James Hyslop died in 1920, and immediately strife broke out between the membership as the Society divided into two factions, one broadly pro-Spiritualism, indeed often Spiritualists, and the other 'conservative' faction favoring telepathy and sceptical of 'discarnate spirits' as an explanation for the phenomena studied, or simply skeptical of the phenomena's existence. In 1923 a prominent Spiritualist, Frederick Edwards, was appointed President, and the conservative faction led by Gardner Murphy and Walter Franklin Prince declared that the Society was becoming less academic.


In 1925 Edwards was reappointed President, and his support of the mediumistic claims of 'Margery' (Mina Crandon) led to the 'conservative' faction leaving and forming the rival Boston Society for Psychical Research in May, 1925. From this point on the ASPR remained highly sympathetic to Spiritualism until 1941, when the Boston Society for Psychical Research was reintegrated in to the ASPR.


Splinter group Edit

The Boston Society for Psychical Research was founded in April 1925 by former members of the American Society for Psychical Research, many of whom were alarmed by the ASPR support for the purported medium Margery (Mina Crandon), and Arthur Conan Doyle's public lecture tour of the USA promoting Spiritualism.Template:Citation needed


This marked a significant split in the history of American psychical research: the American Society for Psychical Research had become dominated by those sympathetic to Spiritualism; the Boston Society favored a naturalistic explanation (such as telepathy; yet telepathy within the laws of undiscovered physics) for purported mediumship and was critical of the purported mediumship of Mina Crandon in particular.[5] Under President Walter Franklin Prince it organised the investigation of Mina during the Scientific American Prize dspute, and Harry Houdini worked with the group. BSPR investigators were involved in the uncovering of the alleged fraud of Mina Crandon -- including a number of revelations often credited to Harry Houdini, but actually discovered by other BSPR members. The BSPR fell in to obscurity following the death of Walter Franklin Prince in 1934, and the exposure of Mina Crandon, and was formally reincorporated in to the American Society for Psychical Research in 1941.[6]


In 1934 the BSPR published Extrasensory Perception[7] by their member Joseph Banks Rhine, who introduced the term ESP to English, and created both the term parapsychology and methodology of modern parapsychology, with its quantitative research and laboratory based approach, as distinct from the older psychical research.


See alsoEdit


ReferencesEdit

  1. American Society for Psychical Research website
  2. Harper's Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience, Rosemary, Ellen, Guiley,1991
  3. Blum, D (2006)Ghost Hunters : William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death
  4. Mauskopf, Seymour H. "Psychical Research in America" in Grattan-Guinness, I. (1982) Psychical Research: A Guide to Its History, Principles & Practices
  5. Mauskopf, Seymour H. "Psychical Research in America" in Grattan-Guinness, I. (1982) Psychical Research: A Guide to Its History, Principles & Practices
  6. Tietze,T.R (1973) Margery, New York, Harper & Row,
  7. Rhine, J. B. (1934) Extra-sensory perception Boston: Boston Society for Psychic Research.


Template:Parapsychology

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