E. R. Dodds

     A LEARNED and lively classical scholar, and an Oxford man who later became Regius Professor of Greek, Eric Dodds was co-opted to the SPR Council in 1927 and was President from 1961-3. His autobiography, Missing Persons (1977) shows his deep interest, from his undergraduate years onwards, in 'that vast range of phenomena which occupy the disputed territory between science and superstition'. He worked for a while on the subject with Professor Schiller; he compared Myers' and Freud's concepts of the unconscious mind; he succeeded in getting telepathic responses from hypnotised subjects; and he came to accept telepathy as a fact of life. He attended experiments with those 'physical' mediums, the Schneider brothers. He investigated 'mental' mediums, and in a proxy sitting with the well known Mrs Leonard, elicited a long string of facts later verified but then unknown to the experimenters, about a dead man of whom she knew nothing but his name. As he could not believe in survival, he was, he said, 'inclined to explain' what had happened as the effect of very complex telepathy.

Among his more general studies The Greeks and the Irrational (1951) touched on the paranormal. His contributions to Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research included 'Why I do not Believe in Survival' (1934), 'Supernormal Phenomena in Classical Antiquity' (1972) and in that same year 'Gilbert Murray's Last Experiments'. His SPR Presidential Address (Proceedings 1962) discussed 'Experimental Research at the Universities and at the Society'.

Source (with minor modifications): The Society for Psychical Research, 1882-1982: A History by Renée Haynes (1982, Macdonald & Co (Publishers) Ltd, London).



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