THE SOCIETY for Psychical Research was set up in London in 1882, the first scientific organisation ever to examine claims of psychic and paranormal phenomena. We hold no corporate view about their existence or meaning; rather, our purpose is to gather information and foster understanding through research and education.
We are a registered charity run by a council of elected members, with committees overseeing various activities. Past presidents have included philosophers William James and Henri Bergson, scientists William Crookes, John Strutt (Lord Rayleigh) and Charles Richet, and British conservative prime minister Arthur Balfour. We are always looking to increase our funding for research and education, through donations and bequests.
Our members represent a variety of academic and professional interests all over the world. We welcome active researchers and volunteer helpers, also those who wish to learn about the subject.
Today, the SPR continues to promote and support the main areas of psychical research, carrying out field investigations, surveys and experimental work. It holds no corporate view about the true origin and meaning of psi – as telepathic and other psychical phenomena are now collectively termed – and debate among its members with regard to particular subjects is often vigorous. However, it’s fair to say that from the earliest times the consensus view of its members – and of the psi research community in general – has been that psi is real, and that while the phenomena should certainly be explained in scientific terms, such a science does not at present exist.
Regular events are organised at our Head Office in Kensington ranging from lectures, demonstrations, discussion forums and study days plus an annual conference is held at a different residential venue to share and discuss a wide range of subjects.
The argument for and against the possibility of reincarnation may rage between opposing sides, but it is difficult to deny when listening to hypnosis subjects who have recounted previous lives during a past life regression, or to a young child who has never heard of the phenomena, recount memories of a previous incarnation.