"And sometimes he's so nameless"

UK Sceptics Newsletter

Posted in Debunking myths, Fun forthcoming events, Paranormal by Chris Jensen Romer on July 29, 2009

Hey chaps and chapesses, I have been meaning to share this for a while. The excellent UK Sceptics, whose forum is linked if you look on this blog have released a pdf newsletter which deserves a wider readership. You can download it here —


It really is sound stuff- like me thy are methodological sceptics, not a priori sceptics. Briefly a methodological scepotic employs sceptisim and questioning as a way of answerin qustions, of investigating an issue – but does not presuppose an outcome to the enquiry. An a priori sceptic knows that certain things are bunk, and sets out to prove this, and reinforce their existing views.  Anyway the level of scholarship and the excellent common sense bodes well for the UK — so do have a look, and even if you are a “believer” in some religion or phenomena – we all are after all believers in some things, only if the claim the sun will rise tomorrow! – don’t be put off by the word sceptic. Have a look!

There are also details on the forthcoming Muncaster Conference, mentioned previously on this blog and my Facebook.

cj x

A strange reversal of fortune

Posted in Uninteresting to others whitterings about my life by Chris Jensen Romer on June 11, 2009

OK, there is many a slip between cup and lip and other cliches, but hey, things are looking decidedly up. Yesterday I was thoroughly depressed — today I feel cautiously optimistic. Firstly, and importantly, thank you to everyone who responded yesterday, and especially to Wendy for her wonderful description of life at Liverpool Hope!  It made me laugh out loud, and to be honest I wasn’t doing a lot of laughing last night.

The score: I have found a Director of Studies, am confident I can find a second supervisor, and he has identified a source of funding which would allow me to start in September 2010. If I somehow come in to three and a half grand in the next few months, then I will start even sooner if I can. It’s all a bit tentative at the moment, as we have only just exchanged a few emails – I know the excellent chap in question, and I approached him and was amazed to get an immediate positive response. Am I really a good PhD candidate? Well we shall see.

Of course I will have to support myself somehow, but let’s face it, I have been doing that for years, and I know that I can get through it given the chance. If I can return to academia, then I may finally end my rather long hiatus, and get back to doing what I love most, and hopefully earn enough eventually to actually have some sort of life in my twilight years (meaning after I’m forty, that is from August…)

All kinds of things can go wrong – they have before – and from grim experience I always say never count on any money till it’s in your bank account, or in thsi case in the university coffers, but this sounds practical, sane and intriguing as a possibility. I am confident enough to renew my SPR sub this year for my birthday – assuming I can get the Student rate by negotiation – and start reading around the proposed study area. Strangely, not everyone seems overjoyed — well one person has expressed concerns about three more years of poverty ahead of me – but hell, I am abslutely delighted! So now I will touch wood, bite the foot off an unlucky rabbit, run backwards and forth in front of Cuddles my black cat and smack mtyself over the head with a horseshoe.  Maybe at last I can move on, and get back to some kind of real life? Who knows — but I’m a lot happier anyway!

cj x

The Problem with PhD Parapsychology Bursaries

Posted in Paranormal, Science, Uninteresting to others whitterings about my life by Chris Jensen Romer on March 23, 2009

… is that they always seem to require a first degree in psychology. In some cases even having a postgrad degree in Psych is not enough – candidates must have a first degree in Psychology.  I can sort of understand why, but given that parapsychology really crosses disciplinary boundaries all over the place, why the hell is this needed? Another great bursary (in Sweden this time) I can’t even apply for. It does not matter how much you may be up to date on experimental design, SPSS and other stats packages, and Social Science Research Methodology – coming from a different discipline excludes you.

This is very, very sad, and makes little sense. Where would JB Rhine be today? Not funded! (He was a biologist.) About three quarters of the past SPR Presidents would not apply, and not just the early ones, and of the people I know teaching parapsychology in UK programmes or supervising candidates today, about 20-30% would probably be excluded by these criteria.

Still, I’ll keep raising the issue on the mailing lists etc, but it is all rather depressing…

cj x


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