TABLE OF CONTENTS
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aspects of the paranormal are identified. Basic concepts are introduced
including: boundaries, structure, opposites, the trickster. The paranormal’s
association with instability, transition, and marginality is described.
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2. An Overview of Tricksters From Mythology, Folklore, and Elsewhere
trickster figures are briefly presented, including Hermes, Eshu-Elegba,
Wakjunkaga, the Spirit Mercurius. Commonalities are identified.
The idea of archetype is explained.
3 . Ernest Hartmann’s Mental Boundaries
Hartmann, a Tufts University psychiatrist, developed a concept of
mental boundaries that has striking parallels with the analysis of the
Greek trickster Hermes, presented by Jungian psychiatrist Jean Bolen.
4 . Victor Turner’s Concept of Anti-structure
concepts of rites of passage, betwixt and between, liminality, anti-structure,
and binary oppositions are intimately related to the trickster. They
help explain the paranormal's marginality and its association with instability,
uncertainty, and ambiguity.
5. Mysticism, Holy Madness, and Fools for God
most dramatic paranormal phenomena ever reported have occurred around mystics
such as St. Francis of Assisi, Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, and Joseph
of Copertino. These were permanently liminal persons who were perceived
as irrational, disruptive, or even crazy.
6. Shamanism and Its Sham
were among the first to wield supernatural power, but they also used trickery
(numerous citations are provided). Anthropologists have identified
many commonalities between the trickster figure and the shaman.
7. Michael Winkelman on Magico-religious Practitioners
Winkelman, an anthropologist at Arizona State University, showed that as
societies became more complex, direct attempts to control supernatural
forces were discouraged. Shamans' functions were taken by priests,
healers, and mediums. Priests had high status; mediums had low.
8. Max Weber, Charisma, and the Disenchantment of the World
Weber introduced ideas of rationalization, disenchantment, and charisma.
Pure charisma entails telepathy and the working of miracles. Astoundingly,
social scientists have ignored Weber's insights on the supernatural, even
though he was one of the most eminent sociologists of all time.
9. Cultural Change and the Paranormal
the Chapter (190 KB PDF)
Anthony F. C. Wallace showed that innumerable cultural revitalization movements
involved paranormal manifestations. Examples are presented from early
cultures as well as from our own.
10. Prominent “Psychics”
prominent psychics in history (e.g., Eusapia Palladino, H.P. Blavatsky,
Kreskin, Sai Baba) have been accused of deception. Most had unusual
lifestyles, odd marital situations, and some sexual ambiguity.
They did not hold ordinary jobs.
11. Conjurors and the Paranormal
have been involved with paranormal controversies for hundreds of years.
Contrary to most people's expectations, many of the most prominent conjurors
in history have endorsed the reality of psychic phenomena. Numerous
citations to first-person accounts are given.
12. CSICOP and the Debunkers
is the most publicly visible institution commenting on the paranormal.
It is closely associated with aggressively anti-religious groups.
It exemplifies qualities of the mythical character Prometheus, a trickster
of the Greeks.
13. Small Groups and the Paranormal
phenomena are associated with individuals and small groups; rarely are
large organizations directly involved. Case studies are presented.
14. Alternative Religions and Psi
abilities are valued in Spiritualism, the New Age movement, and modern-day
witchcraft. The scientific establishment and respectable churches
discourage pursuit of psi abilities. They ridicule the attempts,
or declare them to be sinful. Concepts of liminality and anti-structure
explain the conflicts.
15. Institutions and the Paranormal
of government, business, and academe rarely employ psychics. Sizeable
industries are devoted to the paranormal—but they portray it in fiction.
Institutions typically discourage attempts to directly engage the phenomena.
16. Anti-structure and the History of Psychical Research
has always been marginal. Despite support from royalty, prime ministers,
and Nobel laureates, and enormous popular interest, it has never been integrated
into the bureaucracies of government, industry, or academe.
17. Unbounded Conditions
flaps and Bigfoot sightings can involve groups of people that are unknown
to each other. The phenomena can erupt unexpectedly, and there are
few cognitive or social mechanisms to contain them. The events are
rife with hoaxes and other trickster manifestations.
18. Government Disinformation
Roswell case and the activities of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special
Investigations are examined. A range of U.S. government personnel
have spread rumors that extraterrestrial aliens are visiting earth.
19. Hoaxes and the Paranormal
infest the paranormal, but they have surprising benefits. Budd Hopkins'
case of the 1989 UFO abduction of Linda Napolitano is examined. The
implications for ufology are explored.
20. Reflexivity and the Trickster
refers to a process or operation turned back upon itself. It is a
source of paradox.. Examples are found in meditation, experimenter effects
in psychological research, ethnomethodology, sociology of scientific knowledge,
and mathematical logic. The life of Martin Gardner, godfather of
the skeptical movement, is reviewed.
section on Martin Gardner (230 KB PDF)
21. Laboratory Research on Psi
research is reviewed in relation to problematic theoretical issues.
Retro-active PK, the source of psi problem, psi’s negative definition,
and its apparent independence of task complexity, make it extremely difficult
to integrate parapsychology into the current scientific worldview.
22. Totemism and the Primitive Mind
trickster figure was key to many primitive religions, and to the irrationality
of magic and taboo. Early 20th-century debates on totemism overlapped
with controversies in religion and psychical research. The debates
were precursors to structuralism and deconstructionism.
23. Literary Criticism, Meaning, and the Trickster
semiotics, and deconstructionism have roots in the debates on totemism,
magic, and the irrational. Literary theories of the trickster are
available that apply to interpreting random-number-generator experiments
24. The Imagination
is frequently involved with psychic experience. The concept of the
imaginal realm is examined. The religious, the sociological, and the literary
imaginations are explored. Debates on animal deception are briefly
frequently accompanies strong manifestations of the paranormal. A
variety of examples and perspectives are discussed.
over the supernatural and paranormal have continued for millennia.
Parapsychology is engaged in something quite different than "normal science."
Its phenomena are real but not rational.