in The Anthropology
Vol. 2, Nos. 3-4,
D. SCOTT ROGO AND HIS CONTRIBUTIONS
George P. Hansen
D. Scott Rogo was one of the most widely
respected writer-journalists covering the field of parapsychology. I am
greatly saddened to report that on August 18, 1990 Scott was found stabbed
to death in his home (Connelly 1990). He was born February 1, 1950, and
began publishing articles on psychical research while still a teenager,
including some in scientific journals. His first book appeared when he
was only 20.
Scott held a unique position in parapsychology,
and he made many contributions that deserve recognition. Because he died
so young, there is not much published biographical information on him,
although Berger (1988), May and Lesniak( 1990), and Shepard (1985), all
carry brief entries. Some of the recent tributes have provided a bit more
personal information on Scott (e.g., Clark 1990; Coleman 1990; Harary 1990;
Paul 1990; Siegel 1991; Smith 1990). Scott attended the University of Cincinnati
and then San Fernando Valley State College from which he graduated in 1972
summa cum laude with a B.A. in music.2 He played the English
horn for two seasons with the San Diego Symphony and also played occasionally
for the Honolulu Symphony. He played the oboe as well.
I can make no claim to have known Scott
well, but he did spend about a week visiting the Institute for Parapsychology
in Durham, North Carolina while I was working there. We also saw each other
at conventions during the last 10 years. As I became acquainted with him,
I found him to have a terrific sense of humor. He was also good partner
for intellectual sparring because he didn’t take arguments personally.
Scott was best known as a writer and
journalist of the paranormal, but in reality he was far more than that.
Unlike many authors, Scott was an active scientific investigator. He served
as a visiting researcher at both the Psychical Research Foundation (then
in Durham, North Carolina) and the (former) Division of Parapsychology
and Psychophysics of Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. He
published three papers reporting experimental research on the ganzfeld3
(Rogo 1976, 1977; Rogo, Smith, and Terry 1976) and conducted a study on
personality factors of successful ganzfeld subjects (Rogo and Sargent 1982).
Scott was also active in field investigations of hauntings and poltergeists
(e.g., Rogo 1974, 1982, 1987). Not only did he produce many books and popular
articles, but in addition he published full papers in all of the professional,
English-language, refereed parapsychology journals. I know of no other
popular author who can claim that distinction.
Scott was also a leading authority on
the history of psychical research. In this I would estimate that there
are only three or four people in the world who might be considered to be
in his league. The breadth of his historical knowledge of the field was
Scott’s interests included parapsychology,
Forteana4 and popular occultism. He knew this wide range of
literature of the paranormal probably better than anyone else. His articles
appeared in numerous periodicals (see Table 1) and covered near death experiences,
autism and ESP, multiple personality research, critiques of James Randi’s
debunking, and miracles of saints. Much of Scott’s writing was related
to issues of survival of bodily death. He took the affirmative position
on the question, but he did not disregard the evidence challenging his
view. His The Search for Yesterday is probably the single best book
critiquing the research on reincarnation. Ronald Siegel (1991), a noted
skeptic and friend of Scott, commented that Scott’s position on the question
of life after death had shifted over the years as new evidence became available.
anthropology was not his main interest, his writings were sometimes enriched
by examples from anthropological sources and discussions of psi in non-western
cultures; for instance, his book The Poltergeist Experience included
coverage of a stone-throwing case in Sumatra and a fire-igniting poltergeist
in India. His Expoloring Psychic Phenomena briefly discussed Amazon
natives’ use of psychoactive drugs to elicit ESP. Scott wrote at least
two articles on anthropology for parapsychologists (Rogo 1983, 1984), and
he also presented parapsychological ideas to anthropologists at an AAA
convention (Rogo 1979).
Table 1: Some of the Periodicals in Which D. Scott Rogo Published Articles
Anabiosis; European Journal of Parapsychology; Fate; Human Behavior;
The Humanist; International Journal of Parapsychology; International UFO
Reporter; Journal of Parapsychology; Journal of Religion and Psychical
Research; Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research; Journal
of the Society for Psychical Research; Lucidity Letter; New Realities;
Omni; Parapsychology Review; Probe the Unknown; Psychic; Psychoenergetic
Systems; Research in Parapsychology; Research Letter (of the Parapsychology
Laboratory of the University of Utrecht); Spiritual Frontiers; Theta; Two
Worlds; Zetetic Scholar
Scott Rogo’s Unique Position in Parapsychology
Scott held a unique position in parapsychology
and as such, he faced pressures often unappreciated by others who have
not been in similar situations. First, Scott was an independent investigator
and not employed in an academic or research institution. A second factor
was that in order to support his work, he became a writer of books and
articles for the general public.
Scott’s status as an independent scholar
had both advantages and drawbacks. Those outside academic institutions
are not constrained by the paradigms and categories that dictate “acceptable”
topics for study, and thus outsiders can investigate novel areas that are
overlooked by others. On the other hand, the outsiders receive little peer
commentary, and thus the scientific quality of their work can be uneven.
Trade-offs are inevitable when one is
both a scholar and popular writer. Scott once told me that when he was
writing, he would produce 20 pages a day. This rapid production was necessary
in order to support himself; he didn’t enjoy the luxury of spending years
on one book. His prolific output understandably did sometimes lead to errors,
resulting in antagonisms with other researchers. I and others had sharp
exchanges with him in the pages of the professional journals, yet Scott
and I remained on friendly terms.
The fact that parapsychology is not
well accepted also created pressures unknown to those in more orthodox
disciplines.5 The publication outlets available for nonstandard
topics often discourage documentation and encourage sensationalistic treatment,
yet these may be the only viable outlets for chronicling events deemed
“inappropriate” by orthodoxy. In trying to advance the quality of his books,
I am sure that Scott must have had battles with publishing house editors
because they are often unsympathetic to the inclusion of references and
documentation. Yet his popular books typically contain far more references
than most other similar works. He frequently referred to scholarly journals
and gave full citations. That paid off. Although Scott’s books were primarily
aimed at popular audiences, a number were adopted as texts in university
D. SCOTT ROGO AND HIS CONTRIBUTIONS TO PARAPSYCHOLOGY
Scott Rogo’s Efforts to Broaden the Range of Paranormal Research
If one looks at the books Scott wrote (see Table
2), one is struck by the range of subjects. Some might consider several
of his topics too “fringe” and unsuited for serious scientific consideration,
but I believe that such an attitude is mistaken. Even for those few scientists
who investigate paranormal phenomena, there are still some claims that
most consider “subversive”; they threaten the accepted concepts and categories.
For instance, demonic experiences, bigfoot sightings, poltergeist action,
and phenomena suggesting survival of bodily death have all been reported
in conjunction with UFOs. Strange animal mutilations have been reported
in poltergeist cases as well as with ufo sightings. Striking ESP experiences
(even cross-correspondences) have been reported by ufo contactees. Some
of the contactees claim bedroom visitations by angels, extra-terrestrial
aliens, and mythical creatures. Similar experiences have been reported
for thousands of years. These are unsettling claims not only because of
their innate strangeness, but also because they fall between the discrete
categories most people assume to be valid, and thus most researchers (even
those in parapsychology) prefer to ignore them.
TABLE 2: BOOKS PUBLISHED BY D. SCOTT ROGO
NAD: A Study of Some Unsual “Other-World” Experiences. NewYork: University
A Psychic Study of “The Music of the Spheres” (NAD. Volume II). Secaucus,
NJ: University Books. Inc. 1972.
Methods and Models for Education in Parapsychology. Parapsychological
Monograph No. 14. New York: Parapsychology Foundation, Inc. 1973.
The Welcoming Silence: A Study of Psychical Phenomena and Survival of
Death. Secaucus, NJ: University Books. 1973.
An Experience of Phantoms. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company. 1974.
Parapsychology: A Century of Inquiry. New York: Taplinger Publishing
Exploring Psychic Phenomena: Beyond Mind and Matter. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical
Publishing House. 1976.
In Search of the Unknown: The Odyssey of a Psychical Investigator. New
York: Taplinger Publishing Company. 1976.
The Haunted Universe: A Psychic Look at Miracles, UFOs and Mysteries
of Nature. New York: New American Library. 1977.
The Haunted House Handbook. New York: Tempo Books/Grosset & Dunlap.
(Ed.) Mind Beyond the Body: The Mystery of ESP Projection. Harmondsworth,
Middlesex, England: Penguin Books. 1978.
Minds and Motion: The Riddle of Psychokinesis. New York: Taplinger Publishing
The Poltergeist Experience. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin
(Ed.) UFO Abductions: True Cases of Alien Kidnappings. New York: New
American Library. 1980.
ESP and Your Pet. New York: Tempo Books/Grosset & Dunlap. 1982.
Miracles: A Parascientific Inquiry Into Wondrous Phenomena. New York:
The Dial Press. 1982.
Leaving the Body: A Complete Guide to Astral Projection. Englewood Cliffs,
NJ: Prentice-Hall. 1983.
Our Psychic Potentials. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 1984.
The Search for Yesterday: A Critical Examination of the Evidence for
Reincarnation. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 1985.
Life After Death: The Case for Survival of Bodily Death. Wellingborough,
Northamptonshire, England: Aquarian Press. 1986.
Mind Over Matter: The Case for Psychokinesis: How the Human Mind Can
Manipulate the Physical World. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England:
The Aquarian Press. 1986.
On the Track of the Poltergeist. Englewood Cliffs. NJ: Prentice-Hall,
The Infinite Boundary: A Psychic Look at Spirit Possession, Madness,
and Multiple Personality. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. 1987.
Psychic Breakthroughs Today: Fascinating Encounters with Parapsychology’s
Latest Discoveries. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England: The Aquarian
The Return From Silence: A Study of Near-Death Experiences. Wellingtiorough,
Northamptonshire, England: The Aquarian Press. 1989.
Beyond Reality: The Role Unseen Dimensions Play in Our Lives. Wellingborough,
Northamptonshire, England: The Aquarian Press. 1990.
Rogo, D. Scott, and Raymond Bayless. Phone Calls From the Dead. Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 1979.
Rogo, D. Scott, and Jerome Clark. Earths Secret Inhabitants. New York:
Tempo Books/Grosset & Dunlap. 1979.
Druffel, Ann, and D. Scott Rogo. The Tujunga Canyon Contacts. Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 1980.
As far as I am aware, this is a complete
list of Rogo’s published books. Several of these have been released
under other titles; those titles have not been listed.
D. Scott Rogo also edited the English-language
version of Wolf Messing: The True Story of Russia’s Greatest Psychic
by Tatiana Lungin (Translated from the Russian by Cynthia Rosenberger and
John Glad). New York: Paragon House, 1989.
While this article was being prepared,
the book Pathways to Inner Healing was being readied by a publisher.
34 THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF CONSCIOUSNESS
As a result, many
strange and unusual occurrences have been left for journalists to investigate
and chronicle. In actuality it has been popular writers such as John Keel
and Scott Rogo who investigated and reported on such phenomena long before
they were acknowledged by academics. The connections among many of the
Fortean areas are now starting to be recognized by the academy. Only recently
have topics such as the “old hag phenomena” (Hufford 1982; McClenon 1990)
or “men in black” (Rojcewicz 1987) received serious, sympathetic treatment
rather than being dismissed as delusional, hallucinatory, or pathological.
There is a growing recognition within parapsychology that such topics need
to be studied (McClenon 1991). The existence of the Society for Scientific
Exploration and its Journal of Scientific Exploration testifies
to the fact that various anomalistic areas have issues in common. Still,
many find that associations with bizarre phenomena taint more acceptable
topics. Scott did not ignore these phenomena no matter how unsavory others
might consider them, and this did not always endear him to his more orthodox
The appropriate ways of interpreting bizarre
phenomena are problematical, and anthropologists may be among the scholars
best equipped to deal with them. However, if social scientists study only
the cultural meaning of the phenomena while neglecting the underlying reality,
the phenomena can be perceived as being devalued. At times such research
has be conducted with the hidden agenda of discrediting the phenomena.
Scott Rogo was interested in the underlying reality, and it may yet be
that ESP and PK will help explain them.6
Scott Rogo as Communicator
Perhaps Scott’s greatest ability was
to effectively communicate the complex findings of psi research to a larger
public. In this, I think he was unsurpassed. I have met many people with
a moderate interest in psychic phenomena whose only contact with scientific
parapsychology was via Scott Rogo. He reached an immense number of people.
One of Scott’s contributions was that of consulting editor for Fate
where he wrote a regular column on parapsychology. He also recruited a
substantial number of prominent researchers and skeptics to write articles
for the magazine, bringing a high level debate to the attention of the
public. His popular articles and columns would nearly always cite scientific
work and give the reader enough information to track down the original
Although his role as communicator was
not always appreciated by some of those who wrote only for other academics,
communicators like Scott are very much needed in parapsychology, a tiny7
field that depends almost entirely on the generosity of private individuals
for support. Scott was one of the very few writers who brought responsible,
scientific psi research to the wider public. Scott also served in the role
of critic and warned the public of dubious and unfounded claims. He was
more effective in this than the self-proclaimed debunkers, because he had
much more credibility with those who really needed warnings about uncritical
acceptance of paranormal claims.
Scott’s loss is a tragedy not only for
his family and friends but also for the science of parapsychology. Scott
made significant contributions and played an important role in helping
other scholars reach a wider audience. There is a severe shortage of capable
researchers and knowledgeable, responsible writers who cover the field.
Parapsychology will feel his loss for years to come.
George P. Hansen has recently completed
a study of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of
the Paranormal (CSICOP), published in the January 1992 issue of the Journal
of the American Society for Psychical Research.
1 I wish to thank Jack Rogo,
Scott’s father, and Arthur Berger for providing information on Scott. Thanks
also to Robert Durant for comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
2 Scott graduated in January
1972; in June of that year San Fernando Valley State College changed its
name to California State University Northridge.
3 The ganzfeld procedure
involves partial sensory deprivation and seems to enhance ESP functioning
in the laboratory.
4 The term Fortean is derived
from Charles Fort, an author who, in the first few decades of this century,
collected thousands of reports of anomalous events.
5 The pressures faced by
investigators of the unusual have been insightfully discussed by Henry
Bauer (1986), former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of Virginia
Polytechnic and State University.
6 A strong case has been
made for the existence of some relatively mundane forms of psi (extrasensory
perception, ESP, and psychokinesis, PK). For major reviews in mainstream
scientific journals see Child (1985), Jahn (1982), Radin and Nelson (1989),
Rao and Palmer (1987), and Winkelman (1982).
7 In the U.S., parapsychology
has approximately 10-15 full-time professional researchers. Most who contribute
to the professional literature are either self-supporting independent researchers
or professors who devote part of their research to the field.
Bauer, Henry H.
1986 The Enigma of Loch Ness: Making Sense of a Mystery.Chicago,
IL: University of Illinois Press.
Berger, Arthur S.
1988 Lives and Letters in American Parapsychology:
A Biographical History, 1850-1987. Jefferson. NC: McFarland.
Child, Irvin L.
1985 Psychology and Anomalous Observations: The
Question of ESP in Dreams. American Psychologist 40:1219-1230.
1990 D. Scott Rogo (1950-1990). Fate 43( 12):45-48.
1990 Haunted by the Death of D. Scott Rogo: Remembering
a Bright and Gentle Author. Strange Magazine 6:27.
1990 Parapsychologist Stabbed to Death in Northridge
Home. Los Angeles Times, August 18, p. B3.
1990 Eulogy for D. Scott Rogo. ASPR Newsletter
Hufford, David J.
1982 The Terror That Comes in the Night: An Experience-Centered
Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania
Jahn, Robert G.
1982 The Persistent Paradox of Psychic Phenomena:
An Engineering Perspective. Proceedings of the IEEE 70(2):136-l70.
May, Hal, and James G. Lesniak, eds.
1990 Rogo, D. Scott. In Contemporary Authors
(New Revision Series), 28. Pp. 386-387. Detroit: Gale Research Company.
1990 A Preliminary Report on African-American Anomalous
Experiences in Northeast North Carolina. Parapsychology Review 21(1):1-4.
1991 Social Science and Anomalous Experience: Paradigms
for Investigating Sporadic Social Phenomena. Journal of the American Society
for Psychical Research 85:25-41.
1990 Obituary. Theta 16(2-3):40.
D. SCOTT ROGO AND HIS CONTRIBUTIONS TO PARAPSYCHOLOGY
Radin, Dean I., and Roger D. Nelson
1989 Evidence for Conscious-Related Anomalies in
Random Physical Systems. Foundations of Physics 19:1499-1514.
Rao, K.. Ramakrishna, and John Palmer
1987 The Anomaly Called Psi: Recent Research and
Criticism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 10:539-551.
Rogo, D. Scott
1974 Psychotherapy and the Poltergeist. Journal
of the Society for Psychical Research 47:433-446.
Rogo, D. Scott, and Carl L. Sargent
1976 ESP in the Ganzfeld: An Exploration of Parameters.
In Research in Parapsychology 1975. J. D. Morris, W. G. Roll, and
R. L. Morris, eds. Pp. 174-176. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.
1977 A Preliminary Study of Precognition in the Ganzfeld.
European Journal of Parapsychology 2(1):60-67.
1979 Parapsychology at the AAA. Parapsychology Review 10(2):21-23.
1982 The Poltergeist and Family Dynamics: A Report on a
Recent Investigation. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 51:233-237.
1983 Psi and Shamanism: A Reconsideration. Parapsychology
Review 14(5):12-15. 14(6):5-9.
1984 Searching for Psi in “Primitive” Cultures: Some Tips
for Field Workers. Parapsychology Review l5(4):l-4.
1987 A Case or Mysterious Stone-Throwing in Arizona. Journal
of the Society for Psychical Research 54:16-37.
1982 Personality Characteristics of Exceptionally
Successful Ganzfeld Free-Response Subjects as Measured by the California
Psychological Inventory. In Research in Parapsychology 1981. W.
G. Roll, R. L. Morris, and R. A. White, eds. Pp. 150-151. Metuchen, NJ:
Rogo, D. S., M. Smith, and J. Terry
1976 The Use of Short-Duration Ganzfeld Stimulation
to Facilitate Psi-Mediated Imagery. European Journal of Parapsychology
Rojcewicz, Peter M.
1987 The “Men in Black” Experience and Tradition:
Analogues With the Traditional Devil Hypothesis. Journal of American Folklore
Shepard, Leslie A., ed.
1985 Rogo, D. Scott. In Encyclopedia of
Occultism and Parapsychology, 2nd ed. P. 1141. Detroit: Gale Research Company.
Siegel, Ronald K.
1991 Remembering Rogo: The Spirit of Parapsychologist
D. Scott Rogo, WhoThought the Soul Might Survive Bodily Death, Is With
Us Still. Omni 3(4):73.
Smith, Scott S.
1990 The Final Interview With D. Scott Rogo. Fate
Winkelman, Michael J.
1982 Magic: A Theoretical Reassessment. Current