This letter was published in Psychic News, issue 3587.
SPR President Responds
My response to John Samson's letter seems to have triggered several further letters, including a rejoinder from John himself. Without wishing to prolong the correspondence unduly, I should perhaps react briefly to some of the new points that have been raised.
Firstly, let me say how much I welcome the opportunity to discuss these matters in the pages of Psychic News. Even if I felt that John's original letter contained a misconception about the SPR, I'm sure that misconception is shared by others, so it has been useful to clarify matters. While some bones of contention doubtless remain, our two organisations have a long association and I am anxious to preserve our good relations.
Despite John's apprehensions, I am not personally antagonistic towards survival research. While I remain agnostic on the reality (or at least nature) of survival, there is no doubt that this has always been an important part of the SPR's research activities and I hope it will remain so. On the other hand, it is no longer the only (or even main) thrust of our research programme. So while John is correct to point out that there has been an increased emphasis on laboratory work in recent years, I would describe this not as 'deferential posturing' but as a genuine reflection of the activities of some of our members. I note his comment about being 'treated like a stranger' at our meetings and will lock into this.
I have the impression that John's complaint is mainly prompted by the unfair treatment (as he sees it) of Ronald Pearson. Mr Pearson's own letter has certainly clarified the origin - of the 'maverick' remark attributed to me. I'm very pleased to learn that one of his articles was published by 'Frontier Perspectives'. If I did indeed remark in a private conversation that no journal would ever publish his work, I'm delighted to have been proved wrong.
I would only add that my pronouncement was probably more related to mainstream psychic journals and, in that context, it could have been directed towards anybody trying to publish articles about the connection between psi and physics. This is because the contents of mainstream journals inevitably reflect establishment bias and there can be no doubt that there is considerable bias against psi. I cannot comment on why Mr Pearson's paper was rejected from the SPR Journal, since I was not involved in this, but it's clear that our Journal is not the best place to discuss technical issues concerning cosmology (even if they do have implications for psi).
It would be inappropriate for me to respond to Michael Roll's question of why his paper was turned down for the SPR's 1999 conference, since the deliberations of the Programme Committee are confidential. I would only stress that there is never enough time to allow the presentation of all the submissions we receive, so we inevitably have to reject some of them. Deciding which papers have most appeal for the SPR's particular audience is not an easy task but we do our best. The only consolation I can give Mr Roll is that we have also rejected papers by Dr Blackmore on a number of occasions!
Bernard Carr, President of the Society of Psychical Research [sic]
Related material on this site:
Is The SPR Serious About Being Even Handed? - Letter from Ronald Pearson, written in response to Prof. Carr's letter to Psychic News, March 17, 2001
"Consciousness as a Sub-quantum Phenomenon" - Ronald Pearson's paper
Published in the journal Frontier Perspectives, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA. Volume 6. No. 2, Spring/Summer 1997 (pp70-78). ISSN: 1062-4767
Is There a Widening Division Between Parapsychologists and Survivalists at the SPR? - Letter from John Samson to Victor Zammit, July 7, 2001