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Marseille, W.W. (1943). Extra-Sensory Perception after Sixty Years. A Critical Appraisal of the Research in Extra-Sensory Perception: By J. B. Rhine, J. G. Pratt, Charles E. Stuart, Burke M. Smith and Joseph A. Greenwood. New York: Henry Holt & Co., Inc., 1940. 463 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 12:118-124.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:118-124

Extra-Sensory Perception after Sixty Years. A Critical Appraisal of the Research in Extra-Sensory Perception: By J. B. Rhine, J. G. Pratt, Charles E. Stuart, Burke M. Smith and Joseph A. Greenwood. New York: Henry Holt & Co., Inc., 1940. 463 pp.

Review by:
Walter W. Marseille

The authors of this book are members of the staff of the Parapsychology Laboratory of Duke University, with the exception of Greenwood who is the mathematician of the group. They state their problem as follows: 'Is it possible repeatedly to obtain results that are statistically significant when subjects are tested for knowledge of (or reaction to) external stimuli (unknown and uninferable to the subject) under conditions that safely exclude the recognized sensory processes?' (p. 15).

The authors contend that ESP does occur, and their 'critical appraisal' does nothing but try to bring out and establish against all possible objections the supporting evidence. This bias of the authors limits the discussion to a degree which frustrates the reader throughout the book. This restriction, unwelcome as it is, may be defended from the point of view of scientific logic, but it burdens the authors with a much increased responsibility concerning the accuracy of their reporting, since it excludes the reader from critical evaluation of an important part of the material.

The case for ESP is presented here in the most comprehensive, precise and logical form that it has been given in any publication so far. Part One, The Question of the Occurrence of ESP, is the most important part and comprises half of the book. After describing the historical background of ESP research in a perfunctory fashion, the authors proceed to the above quoted restatement of the problem in terms of a scientific approach which is both experimental and quantitative. Then mathematical questions of evaluation are discussed in a clear and competent chapter which proves that the authors are aware of the rather intricate problems of mathematical statistics that are pertinent to their topic. Next, the various experimental methods are surveyed in a general way and some details are given about the differences in the experimental set-up where the components of ESP (telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition) are tested separately.

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