Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Rhine Research Center

Whenever I think of parapsychology, images from Ghostbusters leap to mind.  I see Ray and Igon telling the dean about their research right before they lose tenure and are asked to leave the University.  The truth about parapsychology as a field can be found at the Rhine Research Center.  The Rhine Research Center was founded as part of Duke University by Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine and Dr. Louisa Rhine.   The Rhine Research Center  is located in Durham North Carolina and stands at the forefront of gathering scientific evidence to prove that such things as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis, and survival of consciousness (hauntings, ghosts, and  mediumship) are real.  The Rhine Institutes says their goal is to, "aims to improve the human condition by creating a scientific understanding of those abilities and sensitivities that appear to transcend the ordinary limits of space and time."

Rhine was founded in the 1930's and began with all the type of studies a fan of Ghostbusters might imagine such as ESP card tests.   According to The Rhine Research Center's website, however, they have moved beyond such studies.  Their website says:

"ESP cards and dice games have long since been replaced by modern techniques that allow more subtle measurements of psi, such as by looking at the physiological changes or bioenergy characteristics of psychics and healers, or by measuring the telepathic awareness of emotional targets in a simulated dream-like situation. Efforts are made to detect clues that come directly from the psi experiencers themselves, whether they are healers, intuitives, or simply ordinary people who have these extraordinary experiences."

The Rhine Institute is interesting to me because they study the paranormal using the scientific method and publish their findings in peer reviewed journals.  One of my fellow bloggers, Courtney Mroch of Haunt Jaunts, had an interesting post a while back questioning whether any ghost hunter could really call themselves a professional or say they had any credentials.  Her argument was that the world of the paranormal seems to be run by people without professional degrees or credentials and that there is no way to verify who is truly a professional or not without such things.  I agreed with her, but I think places like the Rhine Institute offer a challenge to that notion.  If the paranormal can be studied and proved in a scientific manner by people with doctorates and credentials from a university like Duke in parapsychology,  perhaps there can be professional and credentialed ghost hunters.  They just may not necessarily be the ones on TV.

6 comments:

Adsila said...

Any yahoo can go out and call himself a ghost hunter, but what do they really know? I would like to see what the Rhine Institute comes up with.

pr0udmom0f3 said...

Ah yes! Good old Duke University. Got to visit their medical center twice in less than a week. But I'd never known of the Rhine Center.

I don't know if I would want to have my brain picked" in this manner. But I do like how they look at their subjects objectively and with a skeptic's mind to go about pulling together their findings.

pr0udmom0f3 said...

Oh!! And Jessica (and all others that are here or you know of that write Paranormal-based blogs)...Feel free to add your blogs to my ParanorMel page, where I have a current LINK UP/BLOG HOP going on through late tonight, EST/USA Time Zone.

Pam Morris said...

interesting...I'd like to take a look at some of those journals and see what's scientifically going on currently.

Bear said...

Always interesting,thanks!

Courtney Mroch said...

Jessica, great post. You and I are on the same wavelength. But I wasn't saying the paranormal community was run by anyone necessarily. I was venting about people calling themselves professionals or, worse, experts, when there's no grounds for that.

The studies the Rhine Institute does is similar to what so called "ghost hunters" or "paranormal investigators" do, EXCEPT they DO use the scientific method. Most every paranormal group out there is just running around with equipment hoping to catch something, but there's no controls or real experiments set in place.

Also, until concrete proof of the existence of ghosts is even established, it's all just speculative at best anyway. But if anyone is going to come up with such proof, it's going to be a place like the Rhine that does it. Everyone else is going about it half-assed most of the time.

There are a few places that are starting to get wise about that though and offer continuing studies of their allegedly haunted premises. But, again, there needs to be a coordination of the data to really start finding correlations and making sense of any evidence.

So, yes, one day perhaps if the Rhine Institute can prove the existence of ghosts and how to "catch" them, perhaps the can then establish courses to teach others the methods and "professionals" and "experts" can evolve from that. I agree with you there. But until then I'll always have a problem with anyone calling themself an expert or professional.