Spirits, Science and the Mind: The Journal ‘Psychische Studien’ (1874-1925)

1874 is a significant year in the history of psychology. Wilhelm Wundt published the first edition of Outlines of Physiological Psychology, and Franz Brentano issued his epistemological study, Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint. Another event in the same year is usually passed over by chronologists of the mind sciences: The foundation of Psychische Studien (Psychical … Read more

Emil du Bois-Reymond: Science, Progress and Superstition. An Interview with Gabriel Finkelstein

Gabriel Finkelstein is Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado Denver, where he teaches courses on Modern Germany, Modern Europe, History of Science, and History of Exploration. He has a degree in physics from Amherst College and a doctorate in history from Princeton University. He recently published a biography of the German physiologist … Read more

Guest Post by Kees-Jan Schilt (University of Sussex): “Not fit to be Printed”. On the Reception of Newton’s Unorthodox Works

Kees-Jan Schilt has a background in physics, astrophysics and history and philosophy of science (University of Utrecht), and is currently a doctoral researcher in early modern history of science at the University of Sussex. A member of the Newton Project, he specializes in early modern history, history of science and religion, and in the life … Read more

Halloween Special: C. G. Jung’s Spine-Chilling Nights in a ‘Haunted House’

The following excerpts are from a report originally contributed by Carl Gustav Jung to Spuk. Irrglaube oder Wahrglaube? (chapter 5, Baden: Gyr, 1950), a study of hauntings and poltergeist cases by the zoologist Fanny Moser (1872-1953). The below is extracted from C. G. Jung, Psychology and the Occult (London: Routledge, 1982, pp. 174-183; I’m grateful … Read more

A Night of Mesmerism and Psychology at Barts Museum

Last Thursday I had the privilege of giving a talk in the excellent Damaging the Body lecture series, ably organised at Barts Museum of Pathology, London, by Jo Parsons and Sarah Chaney. Surrounded by hundreds of jars filled with various organs and body parts of dead people (no nibbles were served in case you’re wondering), … Read more

The Tacit Magical Thinking in Popular Science

Since the emergence of the modern popular science industry in the nineteenth century, one central message has been promulgated consistently: Magical thinking is the exact opposite of the scientific spirit and a foolproof litmus test to identify intrinsically unscientific and dangerously regressive attitudes. The problem with this pillar of popular science, however, is that on … Read more

The Naturalisation of the ‘Poltergeist’

An example of the historical continuity of scientific interest in unorthodox questions concerns ‘poltergeist’ phenomena, i.e. the very epitome of ‘things that go bump in the night’. Probably coined by Martin Luther (a professed poltergeist victim) in sixteenth-century Germany, ‘Poltergeist’ means ‘rumbling spirit’. There is a vast number of historical records of dramatic poltergeist outbreaks … Read more

Welcome

If you grew up in a western industrialised society, you probably know that you really shouldn’t believe in the occurrence of events commonly referred to as ‘miraculous’ or ‘supernatural’ if you expect to be viewed as a ‘rational’ and ‘scientific’ person. If there was something to that sort of thing, surely the greats of science … Read more

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