Syllabus – Inside the Rhine Lab: The Early Years

Instructors: Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD & Nancy L. Zingrone, PhD

About the course:

This 4-week online course will focus on how the Rhine came into being, looking at J. B. and Louisa E. Rhine and how they got interested in psychical research in the 1920s, their journey from the University of Chicago through Harvard to Duke University, the mediumship research that started it all, the early days of the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University, and the decades after that to J. B.’s retirement and the establishment of the Foundation for the Research on the Nature of Man (yes, that’s what it was called), and its Institute for Parapsychology. Card-guessing, dice experiments, psychic healing experiments on gerbils and mice, random number generators, drawing experiments, the Ganzfeld, early psychic computer games: The history of the Rhine has it all! The course will include weekly online lecture broadcasts, discussion forums, readings, videos, online testing, and a couple of class projects. Come join us for this fascinating look at the history of research at the Rhine.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of the course students will be able to:

  1. Describe J. B. Rhine’s approach, the line of experimental parapsychology he established, and the team of experimenters he gathered around him;
  2. Describe Louisa Rhine’s spontaneous case collection and how her focus on the experiences informed the way experimenters looked at ESP and PK;
  3. Discuss the growth of technology at the Rhine from pre-computer testing equipment through early computer games to the automated Ganzfeld and current experiments.
  4. Discuss the Rhine and its place in the international field that studies anomalous experiences.

Weekly Topics

Week 1: Beginnings: Arthur Conan Doyle to Margery the Medium to ESP Testing in the Lab (Alvarado)

Week 2: The Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University: ESP and PK to Case Studies (Alvarado)

Week 3: The Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM) and the Institute for Parapsychology: The Changing Face of Research (Zingrone)

Week 4: Research, Education and Outreach: The Road to the New Rhine (Zingrone)

Class Materials

Suggested readings (articles, books, and blogs), YouTube videos, experiencer websites, links to other researchers and their websites as well as links to websites that will help you continue to study this topic after the course is over.

To Get the Most out of the Class

Join us to watch the live broadcast or watch the recording at your leisure. Log into the REC Classroom, meet your classmates, join the discussions, and take advantage of the free materials uploaded to the classroom for further study. Take part in the two class projects.