29, 1895 – February 20, 1980)
known as J. B. Rhine) was a pioneer of parapsychology. Rhine founded
the parapsychology lab at Duke University, the Journal of Parapsychology,
and the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man.
Joseph (J.B.) Rhine was the second of four children born to Samuel Ellis
Rhine and Elizabeth Vaughan Rhine in Waterloo, Pennsylvania. Samuel
Rhine had been educated in a Harrisburg business college, had taught
shool and later been a farmer and merchant. The family moved to Marshallville,
Ohio when Joseph was in his early teens. A bright and strong-willed
boy, Rhine grew up with a love of the outdoors.
He was educated
at Ohio Northern University and the College of Wooster, after which
he enlisted in the Marine Corps, being stationed in Santiago where he
became a sharpshooting champion. Afterwards, he enrolled at the University
of Chicago, where he received his master's degree in botany 1923 and
Ph.D. in botany in 1925. He taught for a year at Boyce Thompson Institute
for Plant Research, in Yonkers, N.Y. Afterwards, he enrolled in the
psychology department at Harvard University, to study for a year with
Professor William McDougall. In 1927 he moved to Duke University to
work under Professor McDougall. There, after he and his wife were impressed
by a lecture given by Arthur Conan Doyle exulting the scientific proof
of communication with the dead. Rhine later wrote, "This mere possibility
was the most exhilarating thought I had had in years."  
Rhine began the studies that helped develop parapsychology into a branch
of science, looking upon it primarily as a branch of "abnormal
Based in Durham,
Rhine's next work had two aspects: one was lab experiments designed
to probe the actuality or lack thereof of the Lamarckian theory of inherited
characteristics in animals; the other was fieldwork that brought scrutiny,
healthy skepticism, and rigor of data analysis to investigations of
Rhine tested many
students as volunteer subjects in his research project. His first exceptional
subject in this ESP research was Adam Linzmayer, an economics undergraduate
at Duke. In the spring of 1931, Linzmayer scored incredibly high in
preliminary Zener-card tests that Rhine ran him through; initially,
he scored 100% correct on two short (nine-card series) tests that Rhine
gave him. Even in his first long test (a 300-card series), Linzmayer
scored 39.6% correct scores, when chance would have been only 20%. He
consecutively scored 36% each time on three 25-card series (chance being
20%). However, over time, Linzmayer's scores began to drop down much
closer to (but still above) chance averages. Boredom, distraction, and
competing obligations, on Linzmayer’s part, were conjectured as
possible factors bearing on the declining test results. Linzmayer's
epic run of naming 21 out of 25 took place in Rhine's car. 
The following year,
among the new subjects Rhine tested another promising individual, Hubert
Pearce, who managed to surpass Linzmayer’s overall 1931 performance
in (Pearce’s average during the period he was tested in 1932 was
40%, whereas chance would have been 20%). Pearce was actually allowed
to handle the cards most of the time. He shuffled and cut them. 
The most famous
series of experiments from Rhine's laboratory is arguably the ESP tests
involving Hubert Pearce and J. G. Pratt, a research assistant. Pearce
was tested (using Zener cards) by Pratt, who shuffled and recorded the
order of the cards in the parapsychology lab 100 yards from where Pearce
was sitting in a campus library cubicle. Pearce's overall score in guessing
the order of the unseen cards was twice as good as chance. Repeating
the experiment some days later, with 250 yards distance between them,
the score was again well above chance.
In 1934, drawing
upon several years of cautious and rigorous lab research and statistical
analysis, Rhine published the first edition of a book titled Extra Sensory
Perception, which in various editions was widely read over the next
In the later 1930s,
Rhine investigated “psychokinesis” – again reducing
the subject to simple terms so that it could be tested, with controls,
in a laboratory setting. Rhine relied on testing whether a subject could
influence the outcome of tossed dice – initially with hand-thrown
dice, later with dice thrown from a cup, and finally with machine-thrown
In 1940 Rhine published
a book, Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years, that summarized
his own work and the work of earlier “psychic researchers”
who had attempted to be methodical, painstaking, and scientific in their
(very different from Rhine’s) approach, one emphasizing field
work. Rhine invited his critics – scientists and academics who
had debated or criticized his work, or even criticized Rhine himself
– to contribute chapters to the book; only three did, and only
one maintained an adamant criticism. During the War years, Rhine lost
most of his male staff members to war work or the military. He carried
on, though, and after the War he had occasion to study some dramatic
cases outside the lab.
Dr. Louisa Rhine, pursued work that complemented her husband’s
in the later 1940s, gathering information on spontaneous ESP reports
(experiences people had, outside of a laboratory setting).
Over the years,
Rhine looked closely at reports of spontaneous, sometimes sensational
or bizarre paranormal cases. With these, he sometimes, but not always
— as in the case of Mina Crandon and Lady the "talking"
horse, which Rhine believed was psychic and the "greatest thing
since radio"   — refused to pass judgment on their
authenticity or just what principles were operating in them. He felt
a good groundwork should be laid in the lab, so that the scientific
community might, in the future, take parapsychology seriously.
In the early 1960s,
Rhine founded the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, at Duke.
In the 1970s, several high-scoring subjects – Sean Harribance,
M.B. Dykshoorn, and Bill Delmore – were tested in the lab, shortly
before Rhine’s retirement.
Rhine, along with William McDougall, coined the term "parapsychology"
(translating a German term). It is sometimes said that Rhine almost
single-handedly developed a methodology and concepts for parapsychology
as a form of experimental psychology; however great his contributions,
some earlier work along similar — analytical and statistical —
lines had been undertaken sporadically in Europe, notably the experimental
work of Sir Oliver Lodge, of England.
Rhine founded the
institutions necessary for parapsychology's continuing professionalization
in the U.S. — including the establishment of the Journal of Parapsychology
and the formation of the Parapsychological Association, and also the
Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM), a precursor to
what is today known as the Rhine Research Center. His parapsychology
research organization was originally affiliated with Duke University,
but is now separate.
Rhine's impressive pioneering results, sometimes regarded by parapsychologists
as the foundation of parapsychology, have never been duplicated, nor
has anyone produced reliable evidence that a psychic can rotate a delicately
balanced pin under a bell jar. Rhine repeatedly tried, but with failures
he never reported. 
Rhine has been criticized
for not disclosing the names of assistants he caught cheating. Skeptic
Martin Gardner wrote:
His paper "Security
Versus Deception in Parapsychology" published in his journal (vol.
38, 1974), runs to 23 pages. [..] Rhine selects twelve sample cases
of dishonest experimenters that came to his attention from 1940 to 1950,
four of whom were caught "red-handed". Not a single name is
mentioned. What papers did they publish, one wonders.
cheating has been made public in spite of Rhine's secrecy policy are
James D. MacFarland and Walter Levy. Gardner claims to have inside information
that Rhine's files contain "material suggesting fraud on the part
of Hubert Pearce".
In 1983 his wife
Louisa Rhine (whom he had married during their university years) wrote
a book Something Hidden. She wrote (Gardner 1988:240-43)
Jim [James D. MacFarland]
had actually consistently falsified his records. ... To produce extra
hits Jim had to resort to erasures and transpositions in his records
of his call series.
Joseph Banks Rhine
J. B. RHINE (Joseph
Banks Rhine) is widely considered to be the "Father of Modern Parapsychology."
Along with his wife Dr Louisa E. Rhine, Dr J. B. Rhine studied the phenomena
now known as parapsychology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
J. B. Rhine collaborated with Professor William McDougall who served
as the Chairman of the Department of Psychology. Dr. J. B. Rhine coined
the term "extrasensory perception" (ESP) to describe the apparent
ability of some people to acquire information without the use of the
known (five) senses. He also adopted the term "parapsychology"
to distinguish his interests from mainstream psychology.
The Duke experiments
on telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition used specially designed
cards called Zener cards. About the size of regular playing cards, these
cards were composed of decks of 25 cards, with each card having one
of five symbols on one size: a cross, star, wavy lines, circle and square.
Under various experimental conditions, subjects would attempt to guess
these cards. Out of each deck of 25 cards, 5 correct guesses were expected
by chance. Using exact binomial probability calculations, it is possible
to determine how "improbable" it would be to guess an excess
number of cards correctly. In one set of experiments, 2400 total guesses
were made and an excess of 489 hits (correct guesses) were noted. The
statistical probability of this outcome is equivalent to odds of 1,000,000
to 1 (against chance) and thus show significant evidence that "something
occurred." Sceptics will argue that factors other than ESP account
for the deviations (some claim cheating by the subjects, sloppiness
by the experimenters, etc.)
J. B. Rhine's work
was summarised in a now-famous book Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty
Years (Rhine, J. B., Pratt, J. G.; Smith, Burke M; Stuart, Charles E;
and Greenwood, Joseph A. Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years,
Holt: New York, 1940; Humphries: Boston, 1966)
can we draw about Rhine's overall research program? By 1940, 33 experiments
had accumulated, involving almost a million trials, with protocols which
rigorously excluded possible sensory clues (e.g., by introducing distance
and/or barriers between sender and receiver, or by employing precognition
protocols (i.e., where the target has not yet been selected at the time
subjects make their responses).
Twenty seven (27)
of the 33 studies produced statistically significant results - an exceptional
record, even today. Furthermore, positive results were not restricted
to Rhine's lab. In the five years following Rhine's first publication
of his results, 33 independent replication experiments were conducted
at different laboratories. Twenty (20) of these (or 61%) were statistically
significant (where 5% would be expected by chance alone).
was done specifically for precognition experiments conducted between
the years 1935 - 1987. (Honorton, C., & Ferrari, D. . 'Meta-analysis
of forced-choice precognition experiments' 1935 - 1987. Journal of Parapsychology,
vol 53, 281 - 308). This included 309 studies, conducted by 62 experimenters.
The cumulative probability associated with the overall results was p
= 10-24 (that is equivalent to .000000000000000000000001 where .05 is
considered statistically significant). The scientific evidence for precognition,
the most provocative of all parapsychological phenomena, stands of firm
The Rhine Research
Center in Durham still continues to be a thriving center for parapsychological