Spooks and spoofs: psychologists and psychical research in the inter-war years
Presenter: Elizabeth Valentine
Published: December 2012
Age: 14-19 and upwards
Views: 618 views
Tags: psychical research
Source/institution: Royal Society
Several physicist fellows of the Royal Society were interested in psychical research in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Between the wars, William McDougall FRS and other senior academic psychologists became involved with amateur psychical researcher and author Harry Price. They attended séances at his laboratory and were members of his University of London Council for Psychical Investigation. Why did reputable psychologists and the University of London cooperate with someone of dubious integrity who lacked scientific credentials? One reason for their mutual attraction may have been their common engagement in a delicate balancing act between courting popular appeal and asserting scientific expertise and authority.