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Curso de Parapsicologia.

Naum Kreiman, a veteran Argentinean parapsychologist, is well known in Latin American circles for his experimental work, for the publication of the journal Cuadernos de Parapsicologia, and for his frequent polemical interchanges with other Argentinean parapsychologists. In the textbook reviewed here, Curso de Parapsicologia (Course of Parapsychology), Kreiman attempts to present a general overview of parapsychology's methods and findings.

This first two chapters are devoted to the history of the field and to parapsychological developments in Argentina. In addition to ESP and PK, Kreiman discusses a variety of phenomena, among them apparitions, deathbed phenomena, haunted houses, materializations, medical diagnosis, poltergeists, recollections of "previous lives," and xenoglossy. The author also discusses dream telepathy, card and dice tests, and the relationship between yoga and ESP, as well as other topics.

The main contribution of Kreiman's book is the general perspective on parapsychology he presents. Such a perspective is difficult to find in contemporary books written by Latin American authors, especially by such serious authors as Kreiman. Another positive aspect of the book is that it provides the reader with useful information about experimental research, such as the chapter on ESP and PK tests. Kreiman discusses such topics as displacement, the decline effect, psi-missing, and other findings derived mainly from experiments with ESP cards.

However, the book has two problems that severely limit its usefulness as a parapsychology textbook in Latin American contexts. One of them is that Kreiman's discussions of psi phenomena tend to be descriptive. He presents many cases and examples of phenomena but says little about the actual findings of the studies, such as incidence or correlations to other variables. For example, it is disappointing to see no discussion of the actual findings of Blackmore's and Irwin's psychological studies of out-of-body experiences, or the actual findings of Roll's and Gauld's studies of poltergeists.

Another problem is that Kreiman is out of touch with the modern literature on parapsychology. None of his bibliographical references go beyond the 1970s, something that may explain his lack of attention to specific findings. In addition, Kreiman does not cover the most important recent work such as ganzfeld studies or PK studies with random event generators. Rather, Kreiman's view of experimental parapsychology is limited to card and dice tests. No one who uses this book as their first introduction to the field will be aware that these methods are almost never used today. This lack of current information is unfortunate in a textbook because such omissions virtually disqualify it as an educational resource. The importance of this point is not that a review of the old literature and techniques is not relevant or useful, nor that it is impossible to use cards to conduct ESP studies; some people - admittedly very, very few - still do. The problem here is that a book about parapsychology needs to be current if it is going to be useful to students and researchers alike. Unfortunately, this lack of attention to recent developments is a problem one finds frequently in the writings of many Latin American authors, a problem I hope will be corrected in the years to come. It is a pity that Kreiman has presented such an outdated view of the field, especially because he has himself conducted free-response ESP studies (including a ganzfeld study), and because some of his recent articles show an awareness of the contemporary English-language literature.

The book's exclusion of current research is also reflected in the discussion about the recent history of parapsychology. Kreiman has very little to say about developments after the initial work of J. B. Rhine. This reluctance to cover the recent history of parapsychology is highlighted by his serious omission of the recent work of his Argentinean colleagues.

In addition, I was surprised to see Kreiman's uninformed and somewhat uncritical discussion of the relationship between yoga and ESP. He presents several speculations but, uncharacteristically for an experimental parapsychologist, he does not discuss the experimental studies about meditation and ESP.

To summarize, Curso de Parapsicologia includes useful information about parapsychology, especially descriptions of phenomena and the old card and dice tests. However, the book is severely limited because it does not cover any developments in the field since the early 1970s - nearly three decades of work! It is to be hoped that a second edition of the book will include modern developments and will mention actual findings of studies in more depth, because the Latin American audience is in great need of a textbook that includes recent developments in the field.

CARLOS S. ALVARADO Centro de Estudios Integrales de Puerto Rico P.O. Box 194176 San Juan, Puerto Rico 00919-4176 email:
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Author:Alvarado, Carlos S.
Publication:The Journal of Parapsychology
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1997
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