chapter  8
24 Pages

On the 'Psychic' Powers of Nonhuman Animals

I am going to discuss recent experimental work which seems to show that animals of various species can exercise so-called extrasensory perception (ESP) andjor psychokinesis (PK). If this becomes weIl confirmed, it may alter the conception of the enquiry called 'psychieal research' or 'parapsychology'. Richard Robinson once c1aimed that many psychical researchers would lose interest if they ceased to believe that the phenomena they investigate 'tend to prove the Platonic theory of the soul and man's survival of bodily death', and that 'at least some psychieal research is . . . religion using science to try to prove its point'. 29 There is some justification for such comments, if we consider the declared purposes of the founders of the Society for Psychieal Research. Referring to the formation of the Society, Henry Sidgwiek said: 'We believe unreservedly in the methods of modern science ... but we are not prepared to bow ... to the mere prejudices of scientific men. And it appeared to us that there was an important body of evidence tending prima facie to establish the independence of soul or spirit which modern science has simply left on one side ... evidence tending to throw light on the question of the action of mind either apart from the body or otherwise than through known bodily senses' .38 He added later that 'there is not one of us who would not feel ten times more interest in proving the action of intelligences other than those of living men than in proving communication of human minds in an

abnormal way' .39 And the goal of psychical research for Frederic Myers is made plain in the tide of his classic, Human Personality and its S'urvival 0/ Bodily Death (1903), and in the Epilogue therein, where he writes of 'this great struggle from doubt into certainty-from the materialism and agnosticism which accompany the first advance of Science into the deeper scientific conviction that there is a deathless soul in man'.