parapsychology doctorate in distance learning

Discussion in 'Nursing and medical-related degrees' started by pjm, Dec 6, 2001.

  1. pjm

    pjm New Member

    dear board members a colleague of mine who knows i am intrested in the dl field has asked me about the possibility of completing a dl doc from a reputable school in the area of para psychology. i myself am a clinician so i have no clue re advising this fellow. any help al;ways appreciated.
  2. Tom Rogers

    Tom Rogers New Member

    "a dl doc from a reputable school in the area of para psychology"

    The only "reputable" way to get a doctorate in parapsychology is to major in psychology at an RA university and specialize in parapsychology. That's a difficult thing to do, though, as most psychology departments don't have doctoral-level advisors whose specialty is parapsycholgy. Parapsychology has just been too difficult for the standard scientific paradigm. Most of the literature in the field seems to deal with the subject anecdotally in ways that make the formation of hypothoses difficult. As a result, scientists have mostly ignored the subject. The people who have studied it seriously seem to do so from a "consciousness studies" view, and they tend to study in alternative, unaccredited programs.

    The closest thing to a "reputable" school actually offering the doctorate in parapsychology is Greenwich University, but Greenwich has reputation problems.

    Tom Rogers
  3. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    I believe it is possible to do a doctorate under the auspices of the Parapsychology Laboratory at the ancient and very well regarded University of Edinburgh. (This is the controversial program endowed by Arthur Koestler in the 1980s). A research doctorate at such a school could have only a modest amount of required on-campus time (and if one enjoyed golf, whiskey, killing salmon, or hiking, that wouldn't exactly be penalty time).

    The Department of Consciousness Studies at the RA John F. Kennedy University in California could be another option.

    The following site offers links to a bunch of other possibilities, but unfortunately links the 'clinkers' in with the properly accredited ones.
  4. drwetsch

    drwetsch New Member

    Duke University used to have a center that directly dealt with the scientific inventigation of the paranormal. It has since become independent. This organization may be able to point you to reputable parapsychology programs and research in the area where dissertations in the field are welcome. Contact:

    Rhine Research Center
    402 N Buchanan Blvd
    Durham 27701
    Phone: (919) 688-8241
    Fax: (919) 683-4338

  5. Tom Head

    Tom Head New Member

    (delurk mode ON)

    You might also try the University of New England, Australia; H.J. Irwin, an internationally renowned parapsychologist, works in the psychology department there. A small amount of residency may be required.

    But the advice you've received here is sound--if you do a parapsychology program, the chances of it actually being a Ph.D. in parapsychology are slim (unless you want to design one through The Union Institute, which has been done, I think). Psychology is one good "back door"; interdisciplinary studies, philosophy, and sociology are others.

    Good luck!


    Tom Head

    co-author, Bears' Guide to the Best Education Degrees by Distance Learning (Ten Speed Press)
    co-author, Get Your IT Degree and Get Ahead (Osborne/McGraw-Hill)
  6. Michelle

    Michelle New Member

    In general, I know very little about parapsychology, but I am currently working on a website for a parapsychologist. In the info I have, it says she earned her Ph.D. from Ohio University in Curriculum and Development Psychology, so I guess that is one possible route.
  7. irat

    irat New Member

    Parapsychology is an interest of mine. However, there is a big difference in finding a topic interesting and finding the material for a dissertation. You may want to check out the "Incredible Randy". He has been debunking parapsychology claims for decades. He is offering one million dollars to anyone who can demonstrate a parapsychology episode which will stand up to scientific scrutiny. He has been on the Today Show. He consulted with the Johnny Carson show when Uri Geller felt "too weak" to bend spoons. He had a whole Nova episode.
    I like the Incredible Randy's approach, scientific, thorough and logical.
    Old timers may remember the book "Chariots of the Gods". The author attribued ancient constructions (pyramids, Easter Island statutes, etc.) to gods from outer space. Carl Sagan quipped that the auther
    ...attributed everything he did not understand to gods from outer space, and since he understood very little, he attributed a great deal...
    I think parapsychology has to utilize an extra diligence to avoid the Chariots of the Gods pratfall.
    All the best!
  8. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    I think that with something like parapsychology, it might make more sense to do a dissertation in the history or philosophy of the subject than in the subject itself.

    Regardless of whether the phenomenon itself exists, belief in the phenomenon certainly has. Parapsychology has had very interesting historical relationships with both science and religion that can be fruitfully explored.

    Treating a controversial subject in that way would probably also be useful in deflecting criticism from those who violently reject the whole idea. You can maintain your distance from it by studying it as an undeniable historical or conceptual reality without committing yourself to literal belief in its claims.

    I have personally been interested in the Western occult traditions for a long time. Things like alchemy and astrology fascinate me. I don't have any faith in the literal truth of most of their claims though. But regardless of that failing, the fact remains that millions of people have believed in these things over the centuries, and that belief alone has had tremendous implications for the history of ideas. (My approach to Christianity is similar, BTW.)

    As an example of what I mean, remember that Isaac Newton was a lifelong alchemist. Can his philosophical and scientific views really be understood if that whole side of his thought is ignored? And it can't simply be treated in a crude CSICOP-style "debunking" manner if we expect to understand why men of Newton's calibre took it seriously.

    At any rate, that's how I'd approach parapsychology. I'd look for a history of ideas oriented history, philosophy, religious studies or interdisciplinary humanities program. CIIS' Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness Ph.D. program would probably be good, but unfortunately it isn't DL.
  9. irat

    irat New Member

    I really like the way BillDayson thinks. I agree. The history of paranormal beliefs or the philosophy of the beliefs could really be a fascinating study.
    I am reminded of Arthur Conan Doyle who apparently believed in ghosts and faeries. One could learn much about his beliefs, philosophies, and motivations for the opinions, without ever having to prove that either ghosts or faeries exist.
    We can learn about what the ancient romans believed about characters in mythology like Jupiter, without proving Jupiter really existed.
    All the best!

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