Faversham Stoa is a philosophy discussion group meeting on the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 7.30 to 9.30pm in the The Bull in Tanners Street. We cover a large range of topics. If you have an idea for a topic that you would like us to cover why not drop us a line? There's no charge for membership and everyone is welcome to drop in. Just bring your brain and some beer money!

The Paranormal

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Introduction

A few very brief introductions to Parapsychology, it's research methods and the problem of interpreting the findings:

The Society for Psychical Research

The Society for Psychical Research was founded in the UK in 1882 and was the first such organisation in the world to subject paranormal phenomena to scientific scrutiny

Spritualism

  • Spiritualism – While the SPR sees itself a essentially scientific, the Spiritualist movement is essentially religious
  • The Church of England and Spiritualism – This odd little report, provided by Chris Pettit, was written in 1937 and shows the C of E struggling to reconcile itself with spiritualism. Spiritualism appears to give some credence to belief in life after death and yet is embarrassing to the C of E in that the vision of life after death contains no specifically Christian features, such as judgment and redemption.

Brain Chemistry & Belief

Recent research suggests that people who believe in paranormal phenomena have high amounts of a chemical in their brains that enables humans to recognise patterns in their environments. Sceptics, on the other hand, have less of this chemical. So which one should we regard as "disabled"?

Telepathy

  • The Telepathy Debate – Transcript of a debate between Rupert Sheldrake and Lewis Walpert on Telepathy. Well worth reading.

Susan Blackmore

Susan Blackmore spent over 25 years researching the paranormal, coming to the conclusion that it does not exist. She is therefore a very interesting case-study of someone who has moved from committed believer to sceptic.

Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake, in contrast to Susan Blackmore, is a believer, but also a proper scientist. He has conducted research into very common forms of telepathy such as the feeling of being stared at when you are not looking at someone and communication with animals - such as dogs who appear to know their owners are coming home.

Nicholas Humphries

Nicholas Humphries is a very high profile sceptic. This is a review of his book arguing against the existence of the paranormal.

The Stargate Project

From the 1970s to mid 1990s the US government were financing a spying project using psychics to observe the Russians "clairvoyantly" (Yes - It's true! I know it sounds like something from the X files). The project claimed good results (15% hits!) but a government enquiry eventually concluded that the results were to vague to make the project worth continuing.

Poltergeists

Two reports on the famous poltergeist which operated for two years at the end of the 1970s in Enfield, UK (I know - not very Gothic is it?). However it's useful to have a case-study in mind when you are thinking about the paranormal.

Loss of belief

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