William James and the American Society for Psychical Research, 1884-9

Thanks to a travel grant from the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) I was able to present a paper at this year’s British-North American Joint Meeting of the BSHS, CSHPS, and HSS in Canada. The presentation distilled a small part of a chapter in my forthcoming study on the formation of modern … Read more

Can Psychotherapists Benefit from History of Science Scholarship? Open Access to my Article on the Psychology of Belief in Histories of Science and the Occult

Historians rarely have the opportunity to say something that might be of practical relevance to clinicians or workers in other fields of applied scientific knowledge. As mentioned previously, I was therefore particularly chuffed when psychotherapist Nick Totton invited me last year to contribute an article to an envisaged special issue of the European Journal of … Read more

Scientific Revolutions and the “Will to Believe”: The Birth of Heliocentrism. Guest Post by Bob Rosenberg

Bob Rosenberg received a PhD in History of Science and Technology from Johns Hopkins University. He spent two decades at Rutgers University on the staff of the Thomas A. Edison Papers, the last seven as director of the project. Since 2001 he has lived on the San Francisco Peninsula, working from 2005 to 2013 for … Read more

Are you Afraid of the Dark?

Last year I was approached by psychotherapist Nick Totton to contribute an article to a special issue on the ‘occult’, which Totton was about to edit for the European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling. As far as I can tell, my essay will be the only one written by a historian, while all other contributions … Read more

Reincarnation Research and Myths of Scientific Practice

Between you and me, I’m so not into the idea that karma will eventually get me and drag my poor soul back into a new body after I die. At the risk of appearing a gloomy Gus, to me one life seems just about enough. The very idea of reincarnation, of course, has a long … Read more

Free Access to Studies in History and Philosophy of Science C Special Section, “Psychical Research in the History of Science and Medicine”

I’m delighted to announce that the special section on psychical research, which I had the pleasure of guest-editing for Studies in History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences, is now available in its final version for download on the journal website. I’m particularly pleased there is free access to each article till 7th … Read more

One Year of ‘Forbidden Histories’

It was precisely a year ago that I entered the world of history of science blogging by launching ‘Forbidden Histories’. (Incidentally, my first title choice – ‘Hidden Histories’– was already taken, and somewhat reluctantly I decided to go with the more melodramatic-sounding name.) One year later, I’m still not sufficiently blogosphere-savvy to understand what exactly … Read more

Oliver Lodge, Psychical Research and German Physicists: Heinrich Hertz and Max Planck

Since its foundation in 1882, the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), the first large organisation to scientifically investigate controversial phenomena associated with mesmerism and spiritualism, has boasted a considerable number of notable physical scientists among its members. They included, for example, the discoverer of thallium and president of the Royal Society, William Crookes, the pioneer … 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

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