The International Literary Quarterly
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Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Donald Adamson
Diran Adebayo
Nausheen Ahmad
Toheed Ahmad
Amanda Aizpuriete
Baba Akote
Elisa Albo
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Rosetta Allan
María Teresa Andruetto
Innokenty Annensky
Claudia Apablaza
Robert Appelbaum
Michael Arditti
Jenny Argante
Sandra Arnold
C.J.K. Arkell
Agnar Artúvertin
Sarah Arvio
Rosemary Ashton
Mammed Aslan
Coral Atkinson
Rose Ausländer
Shushan Avagyan
Razif Bahari
Elizabeth Baines
Jo Baker
Ismail Bala
Evgeny Baratynsky
Saule Abdrakhman-kyzy Batay
Konstantin Nikolaevich Batyushkov
William Bedford
Gillian Beer
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Ilya Bernstein
Mashey Bernstein
Christopher Betts
Sujata Bhatt
Sven Birkerts
Linda Black
Chana Bloch
Amy Bloom
Mary Blum Devor
Michael Blumenthal
Jean Boase-Beier
Jorge Luis Borges
Alison Brackenbury
Julia Brannigan
Theo Breuer
Iain Britton
Françoise Brodsky
Amy Brown
Bernard Brown
Diane Brown
Gay Buckingham
Carmen Bugan
Stephen Burt
Zarah Butcher McGunnigle
James Byrne
Kevin Cadwallander
Howard Camner
Mary Caponegro
Marisa Cappetta
Helena Cardoso
Adrian Castro
Luis Cernuda
Firat Cewerî
Pierre Chappuis
Neil Charleton
Janet Charman
Sampurna Chattarji
Amit Chaudhuri
Mèlissa Chiasson
Ronald Christ
Alex Cigale
Sally Cline
Marcelo Cohen
Lila Cona
Eugenio Conchez
Andrew Cowan
Mary Creswell
Christine Crow
Pedro Xavier Solís Cuadra
Majella Cullinane
P. Scott Cunningham
Emma Currie
Jeni Curtis
Stephen Cushman
David Dabydeen
Susan Daitch
Rubén Dario
Jean de la Fontaine
Denys Johnson Davies
Lydia Davis
Robert Davreu
David Dawnay
Jill Dawson
Rosalía de Castro
Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
Patricia Delmar
Christine De Luca
Tumusiime Kabwende Deo
Paul Scott Derrick
Josephine Dickinson
Belinda Diepenheim
Jenny Diski
Rita Dove
Arkadii Dragomoschenko
Paulette Dubé
Denise Duhamel
Jonathan Dunne
S. B. Easwaran
Jorge Edwards
David Eggleton
Mohamed El-Bisatie
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Johanna Emeney
Osama Esber
Fiona Farrell
Ernest Farrés
Elaine Feinstein
Gigi Fenster
Micah Timona Ferris
Vasil Filipov
Maria Filippakopoulou
Ruth Fogelman
Peter France
Alexandra Fraser
Bashabi Fraser
Janis Freegard
Robin Fry
Alice Fulton
Ulrich Gabriel
Manana Gelashvili
Laurice Gilbert
Paul Giles
Zulfikar Ghose
Corey Ginsberg
Chrissie Gittins
Sarah Glazer
Michael Glover
George Gömöri
Giles Goodland
Martin Goodman
Roberta Gordenstein
Mina Gorji
Maria Grech Ganado
David Gregory
Philip Gross
Carla Guelfenbein
Daniel Gunn
Charles Hadfield
Haidar Haidar
Ruth Halkon
Tomás Harris
Geoffrey Hartman
Siobhan Harvey
Beatriz Hausner
John Haynes
Jennifer Hearn
Helen Heath
Geoffrey Heptonstall
Felisberto Hernández
W.N. Herbert
William Hershaw
Michael Hettich
Allen Hibbard
Hassan Hilmi
Rhisiart Hincks
Kerry Hines
Amanda Hopkinson
Adam Horovitz
David Howard
Sue Hubbard
Aamer Hussein
Fahmida Hussain
Alexander Hutchison
Sabine Huynh
Juan Kruz Igerabide Sarasola
Neil Langdon Inglis
Jouni Inkala
Ofonime Inyang
Kevin Ireland
Michael Ives
Philippe Jacottet
Robert Alan Jamieson
Rebecca Jany
Andrea Jeftanovic
Ana Jelnikar
Miroslav Jindra
Stephanie Johnson
Bret Anthony Johnston
Marion Jones
Tim Jones
Gabriel Josipovici
Pierre-Albert Jourdan
Sophie Judah
Tomoko Kanda
Maarja Kangro
Jana Kantorová-Báliková
Fawzi Karim
Kapka Kassabova
Susan Kelly-DeWitt
Mimi Khalvati
Daniil Kharms
Velimir Khlebnikov
Akhmad hoji Khorazmiy
David Kinloch
John Kinsella
Yudit Kiss
Tomislav Kuzmanović
Andrea Labinger
Charles Lambert
Christopher Lane
Jan Lauwereyns
Fernando Lavandeira
Graeme Lay
Ilias Layios
Hiên-Minh Lê
Mikhail Lermontov
Miriam Levine
Suzanne Jill Levine
Micaela Lewitt
Zhimin Li
Joanne Limburg
Birgit Linder
Pippa Little
Parvin Loloi
Christopher Louvet
Helen Lowe
Ana Lucic
Aonghas MacNeacail
Kona Macphee
Kate Mahony
Sara Maitland
Channah Magori
Vasyl Makhno
Marcelo Maturana Montañez
Stephanie Mayne
Ben Mazer
Harvey Molloy
Osip Mandelstam
Alberto Manguel
Olga Markelova
Laura Marney
Geraldine Maxwell
John McAuliffe
Peter McCarey
John McCullough
Richard McKane
John MacKinven
Cilla McQueen
Edie Meidav
Ernst Meister
Lina Meruane
Jesse Millner
Deborah Moggach
Mawatle J. Mojalefa
Jonathan Morley
César Moro
Helen Mort
Laura Moser
Andrew Motion
Paola Musa
Robin Myers
André Naffis-Sahely
Vivek Narayanan
Bob Natifu
María Negroni
Hernán Neira
Barbra Nightingale
Paschalis Nikolaou
James Norcliffe
Carol Novack
Annakuly Nurmammedov
Joyce Carol Oates
Sunday Enessi Ododo
Obododimma Oha
Michael O'Leary
Antonio Diaz Oliva
Wilson Orhiunu
Maris O'Rourke
Sue Orr
Wendy O'Shea-Meddour
María Claudia Otsubo
Ruth Padel
Ron Padgett
Thalia Pandiri
Judith Dell Panny
Hom Paribag
Lawrence Patchett
Ian Patterson
Georges Perros
Pascale Petit
Aleksandar Petrov
Mario Petrucci
Geoffrey Philp
Toni Piccini
Henning Pieterse
Robert Pinsky
Mark Pirie
David Plante
Nicolás Poblete
Sara Poisson
Clare Pollard
Mori Ponsowy
Wena Poon
Orest Popovych
Jem Poster
Begonya Pozo
Pauline Prior-Pitt
Eugenia Prado Bassi
Ian Probstein
Sheenagh Pugh
Kate Pullinger
Zosimo Quibilan, Jr
Vera V. Radojević
Margaret Ranger
Tessa Ransford
Shruti Rao
Irina Ratushinskaya
Tanyo Ravicz
Richard Reeve
Sue Reidy
Joan Retallack
Laura Richardson
Harry Ricketts
Ron Riddell
Cynthia Rimsky
Loreto Riveiro Alvarez
James Robertson
Peter Robertson
Gonzalo Rojas
Dilys Rose
Gabriel Rosenstock
Jack Ross
Anthony Rudolf
Basant Rungta
Joseph Ryan
Sean Rys
Jostein Sæbøe
André Naffis Sahely
Eurig Salisbury
Fiona Sampson
Polly Samson
Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Maree Scarlett
John Schad
Michael Schmidt
L.E. Scott
Maureen Seaton
Alexis Sellas
Hadaa Sendoo
Chris Serio
Resul Shabani
Bina Shah
Yasir Shah
Daniel Shapiro
Ruth Sharman
Tina Shaw
David Shields
Ana María Shua
Christine Simon
Iain Sinclair
Katri Skala
Carole Smith
Ian C. Smith
Elizabeth Smither
John Stauffer
Jim Stewart
Susan Stewart
Jesper Svenbro
Virgil Suárez
Lars-Håkan Svensson
Sridala Swami
Rebecca Swift
George Szirtes
Chee-Lay Tan
Tugrul Tanyol
José-Flore Tappy
Alejandro Tarrab
Campbell Taylor
John Taylor
Judith Taylor
Petar Tchouhov
Miguel Teruel
John Thieme
Karen Thornber
Tim Tomlinson
Angela Topping
David Trinidad
Kola Tubosun
Nick Vagnoni
Joost Vandecasteele
Jan van Mersbergen
Latika Vasil
Yassen Vassilev
Lawrence Venuti
Lidia Vianu
Dev Virahsawmy
Anthony Vivis
Richard Von Sturmer
Răzvan Voncu
Nasos Vayenas
Mauricio Wacquez
Julie Marie Wade
Alan Wall
Marina Warner
Mia Watkins
Peter Wells
Stanley Wells
Laura Watkinson
Joe Wiinikka-Lydon
Hayden Williams
Edwin Williamson
Ronald V. Wilson
Stephen Wilson
Alison Wong
Leslie Woodard
Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese
Niel Wright
Manolis Xexakis
Xu Xi
Gao Xingjian
Sonja Yelich
Tamar Yoseloff
Augustus Young
Soltobay Zaripbekov
Karen Zelas
Alan Ziegler
Ariel Zinder

 

President, Publisher & Founding Editor:
Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Glenna Luschei
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
U. S. General Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
London Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Geraldine Maxwell
New York Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Meena Alexander
Washington D.C. Editor/Senior
Editor-at-Large:
Laura Moser
Argentine Editor: Yamila Musa
Deputy Editor: Allen Hibbard
Deputy Editor: Jerónimo Mohar Volkow
Deputy Editor: Bina Shah
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
General Editor: Malvina Segui
Art Editor: Lara Alcantara-Lansberg
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
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Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Hollis Clayson
Sarah Churchwell
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Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
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Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
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Orlando Figes
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Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
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Anne Garréta
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Aamer Hussein
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Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
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Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
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Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
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Assistant Editor: Lucila Gallino
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Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Emily Snyder
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

 

Caroline Watt
FEATURED INTERVIEW:
Neil Langdon Inglis, U.S. General Editor and Parapsychology Editor for Interlitq.org, interviews Caroline Watt, the second Koestler Chair of Parapsychology at the University of Edinburgh.
 

 



Interlitq. What are the KPU's projects for the short and medium term? Tell us something about your partnerships with other such organizations around the world--as well as your own research.

CW. Parapsychology is quite a small world so we have many international collaborations. One important partnership is with Jim Kennedy, who’s based in Colorado. Jim has a lifetime’s experience in parapsychological research and specialises in methodological issues (indeed he was one of the researchers who exposed a fraudulent experimenter in J.B. Rhine’s1 lab in the 1970s). In 2012 Jim and I launched a registry for parapsychology studies. Study registration is a way to eliminate or detect questionable research practices such as data mining or selective reporting of results that can otherwise distort the published data. If a study is pre-registered in a quality registry, this is a hallmark of methodological rigour. We’re proud that in launching this registry, parapsychologists were leading the way for psychologists who only recently have begun to recognise and grapple with similar issues of researcher bias. This is not the first time that the challenges facing parapsychologists have stimulated methodological developments that have wider scientific application.

Another long-term collaborator is Professor Richard Wiseman, who I first met in the late 1980s when he took his PhD at the Koestler Parapsychology Unit under the supervision of the then Koestler Professor Robert (Bob) Morris. Richard is a psychologist and a magician, and his thesis was on the psychology of deception. I agree with Bob that if parapsychologists wish to be taken seriously they should be aware of the pitfalls or even deliberate strategies that can lead to something being ‘not psychic while looking like it’. Recently Richard and I published a paper on the history of ‘registered reports’ - this is another method somewhat complementary to study registration, that aims to improve methodological rigour. We noted that although psychologists only recently developed registered reports, the European Journal of Parapsychology started running this publishing model in the mid-1970s - another example of parapsychologists being pioneers of methodological excellence.

So far I’ve been discussing research; however I regard public engagement as another important aspect of our work. The internet is a blessing but also a curse because any old dross can be presented as ‘information’ about parapsychology. However making good use of the internet, in 2008 I designed and launched an online introduction to parapsychology course that is still going strong. Of course we teach parapsychology to undergraduate psychology students here at the University of Edinburgh, but I particularly enjoy reaching out to people across the world who are curious about parapsychology but who don’t otherwise have the opportunity to learn more about the topic. Our course includes specialist readings and interviews from both psi-skeptics and psi proponents, so I hope it succeeds in providing a balanced overview of the field. You can find out more about the course on the KPU website. Also for the general public, my latest book is Parapsychology: A Beginner’s Guide2.

Regarding short-term research projects: One of my PhD students is about to submit her thesis. She’s been working on replicating and extending recent work that applies what you might call a synchronistic-based theoretical approach to controlled lab tests of psychokinesis. This so-called ‘correlation matrix method' is a relatively new theory-based approach that, if supported by empirical data, should help resolve parapsychology’s difficulties with obtaining replicable evidence for psi (‘psi’ is the neutral umbrella term that parapsychologists use to refer to hypothesised psychic abilities such as psychokinesis and extrasensory perception). My student has recently obtained funding to continue this work based at the University Hospital Freiburg which together with Freiburg's Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene is one of the few European centres for parapsychological research. I hope that will strengthen our links with our Freiburg colleagues. We also have a partnership with Professor Thomas Rabeyron who, I’m delighted to say, recently became France’s youngest professor of clinical psychology and heads a research unit at the University of Lorraine. I co-supervised Thomas’s PhD, and he is an Honorary Fellow of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit who still participates in our regular research meetings via Skype.

In the medium term, we have embarked on a project to use a mild sensory isolation procedure called the ‘ganzfeld’ to test for extra-sensory perception (ESP). This is not the first time that Edinburgh researchers have conducted ganzfeld studies, indeed ganzfeld methods have been used since the 1970s and the results have been fairly positive and have shown some interesting internal patterns. Particularly, results are best when working with selected participants (creative, prior psychic experiences, practice of a mental discipline such as meditation). Our plan is only to work with selected participants, to try to maximise the possibility of above-chance scoring at the ESP task, while at the same time pre-registering so as to reduce the methodological debate that has typically followed previous reviews of ganzfeld research. This project will probably take 3-5 years to complete. Many parapsychologists have turned away from the ganzfeld method, mainly because it is quite laborious. However given its positive track record I think that it’s important to follow up on this work systematically.

Interlitq. What do you see as the great challenge, and the most intriguing opportunity, facing investigators in your field? What do you say to skeptics who argue that psychical research has historically lacked methodological rigor?

CW. For me, the greatest challenge is the chicken-and-egg situation. Resources are scarce, there are few active researchers, therefore progress in understanding psi is slow. Without that understanding, results are inconsistent, and further resources won’t be allocated to parapsychology. Skeptics often complain about a lack of progress in parapsychology. To help put things into perspective, the former co-editor of the European Journal of Parapsychology, Sybo Schouten, once estimated that the ‘manpower’ dedicated to parapsychology research throughout its history was equivalent to about two months of effort in psychology in the USA.

Historically, parapsychology has faced a lot of scrutiny both internally and from skeptics; it also has had to deal with replication issues pretty much since its inception. This has driven up methodological standards relative to other related disciplines such as psychology which have faced less scrutiny. These disciplines have only recently started to realise they share similar methodological problems (try googling ‘psychology’s replication crisis’ to find out more). So actually I would argue that there are strong historical examples of pioneering methodological rigour coming from parapsychology - such as the examples I gave above. So aside from the obvious intrigue of possibly extending our understanding of the capabilities of human consciousness, I’d say there are also fascinating methodological lessons to be learned from investigating the paranormal.

Interlitq. Brian Inglis3 regarded psi as the major underreported story of his era, and he began his new career as advocate in a mood of militancy. As time passed, he adopted a more conciliatory approach, urging people to unlock potential and sources of inspiration within themselves. How would you describe your own personal odyssey? If you had to give a brief, two-sentence justification of your work to an audience of skeptical newcomers, what issues would you emphasize?

CW. I was attracted to the field by curiosity - what lies behind people’s ‘psychic’ experiences? I’ve stayed with it due to the challenge, and the accompanying scientific rewards, of trying to answer that question.

Interlitq. What paranormal experiences have you personally had, if any? Have you found such experiences pleasant, distasteful, or a mix of the two?

CW. My most memorable experience occurred when I was a child, probably only about 6 or 7 years old. It’s hard to describe but I think would be best understood as a kind of ‘transcendental’ experience that I had while I was running on grass in the dappled sunshine below some trees. It was very pleasant, and I immediately tried to repeat the experience by re-tracing my steps and running along again. I tried several times but sadly nothing happened. Decades later, when I told Bob Morris about it, he said I had acted like a scientist by trying to recreate the conditions associated with the event.

Interlitq. What does the name "Koestler" mean to you? Which values does it connote?

CW. For me it means stability. Many researchers interested in the paranormal, if they are lucky enough to have an academic position, manage to squeeze in some parapsychological research alongside their ‘day job’. Although my academic position comes with the usual time-consuming teaching and managerial responsibilities, I’m fortunate that the Koestler Bequest in effect gives me security and ‘permission’ to dedicate my research time to parapsychology. Without that, I probably could not contemplate a 3-5 year research programme. My job is not to promote Koestler, but to promote parapsychology through the legacy left to parapsychology by Arthur and Cynthia Koestler.

Interlitq. In the "me-too" era, we can no longer ignore accounts of Koestler's treatment of women (the double suicide with Cynthia, the rape of Jill Craigie4, etc.). My late father, Brian Inglis, would have urged readers to consider the historical context, possibly invoking the excuse that with great men, one must take the rough with the smooth; in essence, "Darkness at Noon" is a more important legacy than long-forgotten sexual misdeeds. What are your views on the subject?

CW. There is no excuse; the consequences of such misdeeds and offences can reverberate down the generations. One can only say that in some domains, such as writing about creativity, or the paranormal, or against capital punishment, Koestler excelled; but in his treatment of women, he tragically failed.

Interlitq. Can you point to a single individual in the history of psi, or a single event, that you regard as the most persuasive proof of the existence of the Occult force?

CW. I don’t know how the Occult force is defined. If it is something supernatural then by definition I don’t think it would be amenable to scientific enquiry. I think psychic abilities, if they exist, are human abilities that are naturally capricious and unstable like many other human abilities such as creativity. As a result it can be difficult to study them. Only a gradual accumulation of rigorously controlled research can lend persuasive support to the hypothesised existence of these abilities.

Interlitq. Word association -- Uri Geller (recently on the cover of Psychic News).

CW. Magician.

1[Ed.: Joseph Banks Rhine (1895-1990) who founded the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University, and pioneered the use of Zener cards in ESP testing.]

2[Ed.: https://www.amazon.com/Parapsychology-Beginners-Guides-Caroline-Watt/dp/1780748876]

3[Ed.: Irish historian of psi (1916-1993), and father of Neil Langdon Inglis.]

4[Ed.: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/storm-as-raphael-defends-rapist-koestler-1072601.html]



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