As a member of the Society for Psychical Research for some years
now, it was with sinking heart that I read the 'President's Note'
in the latest 'Paranormal Review' from the new holder of this
office, Professor Bernard Carr. In particular his comment that,
"At present. there seems to be a rather strong survivalist
element in the Society, and this is a source of concern to some
people". And when one links this statement with the
vociferous attempts by those at the heart of the SPR who wished to
suppress the Scole Report and regarded it as 'an embarrassment to
the Society', then we are confronted by a most regrettable
situation indeed. Indeed, one begins to wonder why some members of
the SPR belong to It at all.
the risk of sounding trite, the current ethos informing so much of
SPR official policy
does remind one of Coleridge's comment about the our incapability
of learning from the experience of history. A recent striking
example of this was the branding of Ronald Pearson as a
"maverick" by Professor Carr when Mr. Pearson sought
some exposure in SPR publications to present his argument for the
after-life being viewed as a branch of sub-atomic physics. When
this happened I was forcibly reminded of the attitude of the Air
Ministry in the 1930's towards Reginald Mitchell, the designer of
the Spitfire. He too was described by the Ministry as a "maverick"
and encountered much hostility towards his ideas. Happily, for the
fate of this country, the Air Ministry changed its mind. Was it
too fanciful of me, I wonder, when, on seeing a recent photograph
of our new President with others at a conference, holding his
familiar brolly, I instantly thought of Neville Chamberlain? And
Ron Pearson in the role of Reginald Mitchell? Yes, of course it
was! What an absurd notion - and how foolish of me! Coleridge was
wrong, we are much wiser nowadays. Aren't we?