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Parapsychological Research with Children: An Annotated Bibliography.

Although the initial impetus for this work was to provide an annotated bibliography of psi research with children, it has grown into something more ambitious and useful: a compendium of information on what John Palmer, in the book's Foreword, calls "developmental parapsychology." The idea for the book itself grew out of the authors' extensive research on ESP in children. Their aim in this book is to supply for others who are interested in doing psi research what they themselves would like to have had available when they began their own research. Compiling such a work is not simply a matter of pedantics, for, as Palmer also points out, research indicates that a "childlike" state may favor psi, and thus "there is a case to be made for using participants who are already in a childlike state--children!".

In their Introduction, the authors include a section that might better have been a separate chapter because of its importance. It is a kind of cookbook, setting forth the lore about how to conduct psi research with children. This important advice could get lost by being buried in the Introduction. There is no way for anyone to know it is there because it is not listed in the contents and there is no subject index.

Before getting to the annotated bibliography, readers will find six short introductory chapters that they will find both interesting and useful. These chapters were originally part of a panel discussion on "Parapsychology and Children: 100 Years of Research," which was presented at the 33rd annual convention of the Parapsychological Association in 1990. The titles and authors are: "Controversies in Parapsychological Research with Children" by Sally Ann Drucker, "Children's Development and ESP" by Athena A. Drewes, "Psi Ability and Youth" by H. Kanthamani, "The Exceptional Human Functions Research in China" by Raymond Lee, "Observing Psychic Wonderkids: Pitfalls and Precautions" by Stanley Krippner, and "Children's Memories of Previous Lives" by James G. Matlock. The text of the ensuing discussion is also included.

The annotated bibliography is next. It covers 158 pages and contains 463 entries. The annotated items emphasize research with children 17 years old or younger. However, case reports, popular books or articles, and even book reviews are included if considered to be relevant. The first three sections cover what has been the major area of research concentration: studies of ESP. A chapter each is devoted to "Clairvoyance," "Telepathy," and "Precognition," and all are further subdivided according to age and schooling: pre-school/elementary age (infancy to 12 years), junior high school (ages 13-15), and high school (ages 16-17). The subsequent chapters (without subdivision) are "Psychokinesis," "Poltergeists," and "Reincarnation." The last chapter has the catch-all title of "Miscellaneous," and includes near-death experiences, out-of-the-body experiences, and general interest articles. If an entry falls under more than one category it is listed under as many categories as are relevant. All items are annotated, and my guess is that the annotations are an average of nine lines in length.

There are two appendices to guide newcomers to the field: a glossary of basic parapsychological terms (reprinted from the Journal of Parapsychology) and a list of parapsychology research and resource centers, including those offering educational opportunities.

Unfortunately, the only indexing is by author. Although the entries themselves are arranged by very broad subject, a subject index would have been very useful in picking up subsidiary information. For example, to take the first entry of each chapter, a subject index could also have indicated that Item 1 (the first under "Clairvoyance") involved classroom tests and teacher-pupil attitudes. Similarly, Item 116 (under "Telepathy") was about Ilga K., a mentally retarded child who was studied by Professor Neureiter, and acute auditory ability appeared to be involved. Item 208 compared clairvoyance and precognition tests, and the tests were embedded in fantasy. Item 256 was about metal-bending and a special 11-year-old boy subject. Item 290 was a survey of poltergeists and includes information on such items as the age range. Item 322 is a survey of reincarnation cases in India that contains information on several useful variables, including birth order and distance from the child's past-life home. Item 417 involved raps (paranormal sounds). Obviously, even assigning as few as two subject headings per item would have greatly increased the value of the bibliography, and a subject index would seem to be of far more practical value to potential users than the author index, especially because the entries in each section are already listed alphabetically by author. To locate an author, the user would have to check 13 sections, but to locate information on mentally retarded children all 463 items would have to be checked.

In spite of this lack, this is certainly a useful compendium, and one hopes it will be much consulted by those interested in psi research in children. It also serves as an indication of what has been accomplished in parapsychology when a subject that the authors admit has been insufficiently researched nonetheless provides enough quality material to fill 205 pages (not counting the appendices and index). We are all indebted to the authors, recognized experts on psi research with children, who were willing to bring their special knowledge to bear on the tedious task of compiling an annotated bibliography so that others may be given a leg up in carrying forward the research in this potentially very fruitful area.
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Author:White, Rhea A.
Publication:The Journal of Parapsychology
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Words:893
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