Charles Honorton (1946–ca. 1992) Parapsychologist Charles Honorton is best known for two accomplishments: his experiments designed to discover whether dream content could be transferred from one person to another through mental telepathy, a process he called dream telepathy, and the development in 1971 of ganzfeld research, whereby extrasensory perception (ESP) test subjects are placed in a state of sensory deprivation because this state is believed to heighten their skills. Honorton conducted this research at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, along with Dr. Stanley Krippner and Dr. Montague Ullman. Honorton subsequently became the director of the Division of Parapsychology and Psychophysics at Maimonides. In 1979 he established the Psychophysical Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey. He also wrote extensively on paranormal research.
One of Honorton’s most noted articles was the result of an ongoing argument with sceptic Ray Hyman. Previously, in 1982, Honorton had given a presentation at a meeting of the Parapsychological Association in which he discussed the body of evidence from studies on ESP that, he concluded, proves ESP to be real. After Hyman publicly disagreed with Honorton’s conclusion, the two agreed to embark on separate studies of the same data, with each analyzing the same forty-two ganzfeld studies conducted in ten laboratories around the world. In these tests, the subject attempts to “receive” images, by mental telepathy, from someone who is viewing and “sending” the image from a remote location. Honorton’s analysis of the data was published in the Journal of Parapsychology in 1985; Hyman’s analysis was published in 1986. Not surprisingly, they again disagreed on whether the results proved the existence of ESP.
However, even before their conclusions were published, the two men exchanged correspondence in which they agreed that tighter standards for ESP testing methods were needed. As a result, they developed recommended procedures for ESP testing, commonly called the Honorton-Hyman guidelines, which Honorton used in 1983 to create a new automated type of ganzfeld testing, called autoganzfeld. Various experts, including stage magicians, have agreed that the autoganzfeld testing process cannot be manipulated and that the results of such tests are therefore reliable. Honorton engaged in autoganzfeld tests until 1989, when he could no longer find funding for his laboratory, and some of his test subjects showed a success rate much higher than chance would allow. Honorton’s procedures are still being used today to test for ESP abilities.
- Ganzfeld Studies
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning