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"Anglo-Saxon" vs. "Latin" Parapsychology: Underlying the Communication Barrier Based on interviews of French-speaking researchers, an attempt is made to determine some of the issues which may contribute to communication and collaboration problems in parapsychology. It is argued that these problems reflect broader issues than just language barriers. American parapsychologists are the most "successful" of parapsycho- logists, in terms of organization, recognition, funding, and social standing. Insofar as they are in a leadership position, they are largely responsible for defining the field's subject matter and methods, as well as qualitative standards for experimentation, journal reports, and PA membership. The situation has contributed to the creation of hierarchical, rather than peer-like, relationships within the field, in which "Anglo-Saxon" parapsychology dominates. 74.: _ +-.ndc to vii-Hate foreign researchers who disagree with =_omn of the priorities or approaches of their American col leagues, and who do not wish to feel inferior- to them. It is suggested that, if we truly wish to improve international comma,r.ication and collaboration, we must come to recognize tt-.e, _.c-:r,-economic, cultural and philosophical relativity of o n,.,., apps ouch, and thus be more open to divergences in -typo -nod philosophy within the field. 331? 1_24reAWJYe,~i,O1Q11eX.1 /4SSot. Cox.., ~~ !Q k 0 Approved For Release 2000/08/11 : CIA-R[bF6-00792R000400100005-8 Approved For Release 2000/08/11 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000400100005-8 "Anglo-Saxon" vs. "Latin" Parapsychology: Underlying the Communication, Barrier Mario P. Varvoglis Laboratoire de Recherche sun- le?5 Interactions Psi Problem? What problem? In his JP paper "The Ian uage Alvarado deplores the loar leb~lr 1er in par-apsycholo collaboration in of communication hand international limited awareness ofresearchpo~cpublic, citing foreign countries, and foreigners' lack of public, in the PA and in Anglo-Saxon psi journal. He participation in measures to counteract these trends,sinclud Pirngoposte the s use several of travel grants to encourage conventions, and increased offortsertol ticipation ir, U.S. foreign publications. locate and translate But while focusing largely upon, these "formal" Alvarado also cautions that measures, Philosophical issues may obstr-?uctr'lquiickbandceas?ylsolutions. In this context, the opening quotes of his article are t instructive, as they exemplif; the divergence in Ameriquicate vs. European perspectives on the status of n collaboration in the field, international J?B?Rhine states that there is "a spirit and vitality in the research that is international and in no sense localized general and darkly observes that "some (English and Ame " while ricans) seem very chauvinistic and seem to believe that esres done in their country are important" only the r?trastcF~to Rhine's cheery assessment Thus' in cor7 t to view of the continent, referseexplicitloiton9 the point of the part of Anglo-Saxon parapsychologists; "ehauvinism on ems to implying that unfamiliarity with foreign 9n works isebased be cultural biases and is, hence, suggestive than mere ignorance. ' ggestive of darker dynamics MY awn interactions with a on own n number of Europeans active in Y parapsychology suggest that the mood in continental Europe has not changed Much in the decades since Tenhaeff's statement. barrier" Thus, I think that the "language is just a facet of the communication parapsychology; indeed, it may fica t i. MY feeling be the least signifcant one. is that if we seek to address the through formal measures alone, without dealing with pdoelem issues, we might end up reinforcir, g deeper alienation or mutual intolerance, 9' rather than resolving, Approved For Release 2000/08/11 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000400100005-8 Approved For Release 2000/08/11 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000400100005-8 So in this presentation i would like to analyze some of the conflicts which may underlie the communication barrier. Toward this end, I compare the situations and mentalities of two groups - American vs. French-speaking - in hope that this will also clarify issues dividing broader groups in our field ("Anglo-Saxon" vs. "Latin", or "Northern" vs. "Southern"). I must apologize, in advance, for the stereotyping and "flattening" of individual differences associated with this kind of work. In order to render my communication manageable and relatively clear, I present global trends which inevitably caricaturize reality; I hope to be excused for the multiplicity of exceptions to the trends described. In order to gain some perspective on the French views, I exchanged with a number of researchers who are specifically familiar with American parapsychology. These exchanges were informal, two-way discussions, in which I first presented the theme of this symposium, and then asked individuals to present their opinions on two questions: what specific issues, if any, might exist between American (or Anglo-Saxon) and French (or Latin) parapsychologists, and what factors or dynamics may underlie these issues. In all, I was able to exchange with 9 researchers: Pierre Janin, Remy Chauvin, Jean Dierkens, Michel Ange Amorim, Christine Hardy, Jean-Remi Deleage, Francois Favre, Yvonne Duplessis, and Yves Lignon. Given space limitations, I must offer my own synthesis of what they have said, focusing upon a few global areas which, I believe, contribute most to the communication barrier. Socio-economic constraints upon research After a year or two in France, one cannot help but feel that French parapsychology is decades behind its counterpart in the U.S.; indeed, it is not clear, if it makes sense to refer to a "field" of parapsychology in this country. Recognition of scientific parapsychology is very limited, and external support practically non-existent. Research efforts, involving a few isolated investigators dispersed over the rcuntry, are largely self-funded, personal affairs. Little distinction is made between a parapsychologist and psychics, clairvoyants or healers: the term "parapsychologue" can be used liberally by any "practician" who wants to attract clients, and the media further confuse issues by presenting a parapsychologist on the same level with an astrologer, medium, or dowser. Predictably, scientists in various fields tend to dismiss as unimaginable the possibility of serious parapsychological research. The situation is so bad, that the French scientific journal of parapsychology is called "Journal de Recherche en Psychotronique" - "psychtronics" being seer, as less provocative a term than "parapsychology". 318 Approved For Release 2000/08/11 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000400100005-8 Approved For Release 2000/08/11: CIA-RDP96-00792R0004001 In short, French parapsychology is confronted with a familiar vicious circle. The field is tainted with negative connotations, due to its lack of internal organization or cohesiveness and its limited means. connotations, in turn These negative discourage scientists from an open identification with parapsychology, isolate those already active in the field, weaken efforts to organize the field as a distinct discipline, and further remove any chance for funding or respectability. Why is the situation so "b ackwards" in most developed and France, one of the I progressive countries in Europe? A partial answer, I believe, can be found by considering the y socio-economic structure of the French scientific scene. e socialists have been in The d centralisation has a very for less than a decade, but ? ~ extends beyond social y long tradition in France, and c xas srb ! services, utilities, banks, P , etc. 1 into the core of the Public r intellectual and scientific activit coustry s d organisation, the Centre National de.ReThe cher cheorlSeienti farce (CNRS), has a hold on all branches of science, both within' the university and in other centers, and sntially e constitutes a means for controlling the nature and se of the scientific enterprise. funding ?b Centralised !n political and socio-economic structures have proven to be a handicap for innovative research; they , are e tradition oriented, discouraging bold advances, ~ and change. For example, the universities and (tolaltlesser? degree) the CNRS operate by a kind of applying for a position is "quota" system. and the retirement of someone from the lcoprrespond i ng 1post 1 I ow i n then, approvals must be collected by Eess it review committee y a seemingly endless 'n preference for e, which of course translates into a ;r known quantities, not for newcomers, and certainly not for "strange" topics like paraphol it 3n must be recalled that the "rationalist" movementchas?ay.very 11 long tradition in France, and is is anything resembling religious, esotericsorooccultoclaims. to 1e This is perhaps why e research within ofefforts ts approved explicitly establisr, some university h have pproved centers - 'e resistance. Remy generally met e.g., the Chauvin was unable tote insurmountable 't parapsychology get an official ,9 of gy chair established, despite the support of one the most powerful men in French industry and My own attempt to enter the universit governmoug. Is the experimental y and the CNRS through Is Christine psychology department was unsuccessful. is Hardy has some prospects establishing some research for discreetly rr,iversit , in cooperation with some r d y faculty members; but even if successful, this s research would have no immediate accee have to remain ss to funds, and would hidden behind some succet edtarl, "front" innstructorookias . Yves Lignon, a math instructor has openly maintai in Approved For Release 2000/08/1-1~6}i79~2@?0?460 0008 Approved For Release 2000/08/11 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000400100005-8 number of years, at the University of Toulouse; however, the laboratory's existence has never been officially approved from the top, and the university's president openly denies its legitimacy. The survival of this lab would appear to be a paranormal feat, but can perhaps be explained by Ligr-on's extensive relations in the media and a tacit threat of a scandal, should anything happen to him. What about less "formal", privately funded efforts? Although tax-break measures have been instituted to encourage contributions to non-profit organisations, they are still not truly exploited; the French are not as advanced as the Americans in the fine tradition of donations and humanitarian foundations. Thus, research has been largely self-funded, and, invariably, short-term. Christian Moreau, who had been keenly interested in dream telepathy and psi in psychoanalysis, has long since abandoned parapsychology in favor of psychiatry. Pierre Janin, the inventor of the tychoscope, also left the field to pursue his clinical interests full time. Rene Peoch, who conducted a series of successful anpsi studies with Janin's moving-RNG (the tvchoscope), has been progressively forced to abandon the field, and return to his medical practice. Christine Hardy and I, having established a modest laboratory dedicated to computer-RNG research, are feeling the financial pinch, and are wondering how long we can finance our research. Remy Chauvin has managed to get research done, over the years, but he remains quite isolated, and is now forced to act as his own subject in4his experiments, due to his remoteness from major centers. Besides lacking opportunities for conducting research, either within the system or independently of it, French parapsychology also lacks cohesiveness; there is no single organization which well represents the field. The "Institute Metapsychique International" (IMI), once the well-funded and internationally recognized center of psychical research, is broke, and plays practically no role in the field today. GERP, an interdisciplinary reflection group which sustained lively interest in parapsychology throughout the seventies, had to fold. Its livelihood was too closely tied to a couple of individuals and thus could not be sustained once they decided to move on. Recent]:', a new effort toward organizing the field has been undertaken by Marc Michel, a co-worker of Yves Lignon. His "Grganisatior, pour la Recherche en Psychotronique" (ORP) is publishing a scientific parapsychological journal, and has organised a research congress and a number of work sessions. But while these activities are enhancing inter-researcher cooperation and exchange, they largely depend, once again, upon the good will and work of a single individual; they are not sure to survive shifts in his life-situation. Approved For Release 2000/08/11 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000400100005-8 Approved For Release 2000/08/11 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000400100005-8 The upper class and all the Rest In general, then, the socio-economic conditions in France render parapsychology a marginal with researchers facia , poorly organized activity, research, or even g great difficulties conducting establishing the legitimacy and desirability of such research. This, in turn, means small budgets, limited opportunity for cooperation and exchange with others in the field, and, given the language barrier, little exposure to contemporary Anglo-oaxor, parapsychology. By comparison to this situation the o-nomic ' soci- conditions for American ' e quite ecoquie te favorable: the field is well organized, enjoys aagrwin recognition (even by the skeptics), holds regular- national and local conventions, involves research activates both in universities and in independent centers, and has concrete, if sometimes shaky, funding opportunities. though to a lesser extent - Similarly - Eur?opean countries parapsychologists in northern "status" than those generally lcountrieSbettEr socio-economic Of course, French researchers welcome the relative success of American parapsycholo encouragement for them, ands coit is a nstiitutessaucorvenientPeargaud ment for the legitimacy of their own research. At the same time, the higher- "social status" of American parapsycholo- gists indirectly introduces communication and collaboration problems, insofar as it encourages hierarchical, rather, than peer-like relationships. The dynamic seems reminiscent of that between our field, as a whole, and "establishment science" - only that in the ycholo present case it is American purity. ThusgytwhheicAmh otheclfield's nature, methods and objectives; inasmuch as they control Ithe PA and the most important journals in the field, they are also in the position of enforcing their point of view. As a result, the French seem forced to choose between adapting the American style of parapsychology, being ignored, or, being labeled "marginal". I've discovered that some French prefer to follow their instincts rather than to feel like subordinates to American parapsychology. As mentioned, the ORP of the Toulouse grup has been attempting to promote cooperation and exchange between researchers through a series of "work-sessions". One of the first topics discussed in these sessions was the organization of a European congress (Euro-Psi), whic{-, would serve as a launching point for subsequent cooperative research projects. The objective was to eventually establish a trans-European association of psi researchers, which could legitimatize parapsychology after 1992. 321 Approved For Release 2000/08/11 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000400100005-8 Approved For Release 2000/08/11 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000400100005-8 In response to this, I suggested that the basis for European cooperation in parapsychology may already exist in the form of the EuroPA. I proposed that the French coordinate their? e4for?ts with the members of the EuroPA, and added that, insofar as participation in the EuroPA was restricted to PA members, this would be a good occasion for several French researchers to join the PA. As members of the PA, they could more effectively elicit the cooperation of other European parapsychologists, while at the same time establishing a more prominent French presence in the internationally recognized organization of scientific parapsychology. I proposed this during two different work sessions, and both times the reactions ranged from cool to hostile. The arguments against my suggestion were at no point clearly phrased or explicated. Rather, from a number of side comments and snide remarks, I gathered that these researchers simply had no desire to join the PA, to adhere to what they perceived as an American (rather than international) organization. Surprisingly, the most negative responses came not from the clinicians or anthropologists, but from those whose work falls most clearly within the Rhinean tradition of experimental parapsychology. My initial interpretation of all this was that I had stumbled upon a clear cut case of territoriality. I, a foreigner (worse, an American) had invaded the territory of French pa-apsychologists, and, by; suggesting that they join the PA and EtAroPA, was challenging their claim to fame as leaders in European parapsychology. I still think this interpretation is partly valid. However, I have since had a rather personal taste of what it's like to be in the shoes of a foreigner seeking to join the PA. This experience made me realize that some tacit criteria underlie the explicit PA admission policies, allowing for discrimination against candidates who come from another culture, and have published works outside the officially sanctioned Anglo-Saxon journals. Insofar as admission to the PA is controlled by a committee largely representative of American parapsychology, it is easy to see how foreigners can come to the view that the PA is in fact an American, rather than international, organization. It is also quite understandable that they would react aggressively when asked to seek PA membership. Whys should individuals who consider themselves prominent in their own country risk a humiliating rejection? Gf course, it is possible to defend the need for strict criteria for PA membership, as well as the more general need for strong leadership (hence, "hierarchical" relationships) within the field. Given differences in recognition, in numbers, and in funding, it could be argued that American para.psychalo3y is, de facto, the leader in the field. Money translates into improved research conditions, better eq!..iipment, more talent, more extensive exchanges with other Approved For Release 2000/08/11 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000400100005-8 Approved For Release 2000/08/11: CIA-RDP96-00792R0004001 scientists, and so forth. Consequent l.;, one could sLky ti,at Ii t