John Randall

John Randall (1933-2011), a British educator and parapsychologist, conducted ESP experiments and contributed extensively to publications of the Society for Psychical Research. He is the author of Parapsychology and the Nature of Life (1975).

Life and Career

John Leslie Randall was born in Warwick on 27 November 1933 where he attended a local school. He wrote a memoir about his experiences there which he published privately.1  He took a degree in chemistry at the University College of Leicester and a postgraduate certificate in education. He taught biology at Leamington College and King Henry VIII’s School, Coventry and also taught parapsychology for the Coventry Education Department.

Following retirement in 1990 he was active in voluntary social work among prisoners and the homeless.2

Psychical Research

Randall joined the Society for Psychical Research in 1953 and served on its governing council until 2010. He worked with JB Rhine as a visiting research fellow at the Institute for Parapsychology in North Carolina, carrying out ESP and PK tests, with schoolboys and small animals as subjects’.3 He obtained mixed results, but later stated his view that the reality of psi phenomena had been proved ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’.4  

In retirement he wrote articles about psychical research and spiritualism for the SPR’s publications.  

In Parapsychology and the Nature of Life (1975), Randall argued that phenomena such as ESP, telepathy and psychokinesis do not appear to be explicable in terms of the mechanistic-reductionist theory and that parapsychological findings ‘seem to show clearly the existence of properties of living things which transcend the laws of physics’.5

Interest in Survival

An experience in 2007 stimulated his interest in survival – the death of a close friend whose daughter said she saw ‘a silvery shimmer’ leave her mother, travel to John and descend onto him’.6 In his writings he questioned the comparative lack of interest in near-death experiences shown by parapsychologists, but expressed optimism that science would ‘throw some light on the world beyond death’. 7

Works

Books

Parapsychology and the Nature of Life (1975). London: Souvenir Press.

Psychokinesis: A Study of Paranormal Forces through the Ages (1982). London: Souvenir Press.

Pamphlet

Tests for Extrasensory Perception & Psychokinesis (n.d.). London: Society for Psychical Research.

Articles

An attempt to detect psi effects with protozoa (1970). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 45, 294-301.

Experiments to detect a psi effect with small animals (1971). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 46, 31-41.

Psi phenomena and biological theory (1971). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 46, 151-65.

Two psi experiments with gerbils (1972). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 46, 22-30.

Recent experiments in animal parapsychology (1972). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 46, 124-35.

Group ESP experiments with schoolboys (1972). Journal of Parapsychology. 36, 133-43.

Card guessing with schoolboys (1974). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 47, 421-32.

An extended series of ESP and PK tests with three English schoolboys (1974). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 47, 485-94.

Correspondence (1974). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 44, 525-26.

Correspondence (1978). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 49, 968-69.

Obituary: J.B. Rhine: A personal tribute (1980). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 50, 408-9.

Paranormal deformation of nitinol wire: A confirmatory experiment (1982, with C.P. Davis). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 51, 368-73.

Correspondence (1984). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 52, 286-87.

Animal psi revisited (1998). Paranormal Review 6, 12-15.

Correspondence (1998). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 62, 380-81.

Physics, philosophy and precognition: Some reflections (1998). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 63, 1-11.

Correspondence (1999). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 63, 182.

Harry Price: The case for the defence (2000). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 64, 159-76.

The mediumship of Stella Cranshaw: A statistical investigation (2001). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 65, 38-46.

Thomas Colley: Priest, musician and psychical researcher (2002). Paranormal Review 22, 18-24.

Correspondence (2002). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 66/1, 61-64.

Francis Ward Monck and the problems of physical mediumship (2003). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 67/4, 243-58.

Fifty years on: A parapsychologist looks back (2004). Paranormal Review 31, 3-6.

The biggest question of all: One man’s search for an answer (2009). Paranormal Review 52, 3-12.

Book Reviews

The Roots of Coincidence by A. Koestler (1972). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 46, 91-93.

The Sixth Sense of Animals by M. Burton (1973). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 47, 194-96.

Supernature by L. Watson (1974). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 47, 326-29.

Supersenses by C. Panati (1975). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 48, 164-68.

The Biology of God by A. Hardy (1976). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 48, 271-74.

Intelligence came first by E. Lester Smith (1976). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 48, 309-12.

Parapsychology: Its relation to physics, biology, psychology and psychiatry, edited by G. Schmeidler (1976). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 48, 400-2.

Tuning in to Nature: Solar energy; Infrared radiation and the Insect communication system by P.S. Callahan (1978). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 49, 757-58.

The Paranormal by S. Gooch (1978). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 49, 960-61.

Advances in Parapsychological Research by S. Krippner (1980). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 50, 297-99.

Communication and Parapsychology by B. Shapin and L. Coly (1981). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 51, 97-99.

A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation by R. Sheldrake (1981). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 51, 156-58.

Mind over Matter: Implications of M. Kiyota’s PK feats with Metal and Film by W. & M.J. Uphoff (1982). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 51, 253-54.

J.B. Rhine: On the Frontiers of Science by K. Ramakrishna Rao (1983). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 52, 207-9.

The Final Choice: Playing the Survival Game by M. Grosso (1988). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 55, 36-37.

Seven Experiments that could change the World by R. Sheldrake (1994). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 60, 43-44.

The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology by N.J. Stenger (1996). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 61, 256-59.

Exploring the Fourth Dimension: Secrets of the Paranormal by J.D. Ralphs (1997). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 50, 72-74.

Dogs that Know when their Owners come Home and other Unexplained Powers of Animals by R. Sheldrake (2000). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 64, 122-24.

Basic Research in Parapsychology, edited by K. Ramakrishna Rao (2002). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 66/1, 58-60.

The Hidden Powers of Nature by M. Cassirer (2002). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 66/2, 121-22.

Science and the Paranormal: Altered States of Reality by A. Ellison (2003). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 67/2, 155-57.

The Coherent Universe: An Introduction to Geoffrey Read’s New Fundamental Theory of Matter, Life and Mind by P. Hewitt (2004). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 68/1, 51-52.

The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky Volume I 1861-79, edited by J. Algeo (2004). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 68/4, 270-71.

Helena Blavatsky, edited by N. Goodrick-Clarke (2004). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 68/4, 277-78.

Harry Price: The Psychic Detective by R. Morris (2007). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 71/4, 243-46.

Spirit Communication: A Comprehensive Guide to the Extraordinary World of Mediums, psychics and the Afterlife by R. Stemman (2008). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 72/4, 239-40.

Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy and other Unknown Phenomena from the Duke Parapsychology Lab. by S. Horn (2009). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 73/2, 113-14.

Life Beyond Death: What should we Expect? by D. Fontana (2009). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 73/2, 118-20.

The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences, edited by J. Miner Holden (2010). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 74/4, 254-59.

Melvyn Willin

Literature

Randall, J.L. (1972). Two psi experiments with gerbils. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 46, 22-30.

Randall, J.L. (2004). Silence is Rank High Treason: The Recollections of an Old Warwickian. Private distribution.

Randall, J.L. (2009). The biggest question of all: One man’s search for an answer. Paranormal Review 52, 3-12.

Rhodes, P. (1982). Beyond the fakirs and into reality. The Birmingham Post. 8 September.

Ruffles, T. (2011). Obituary: John L. Randall. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 75/3,  172-74.

References

  • 1. Randall (2004).
  • 2. Ruffles (2011), 173.
  • 3. Ruffles (2011), 172.
  • 4. Randall (1975), 119.
  • 5. Randall (1975), front cover.
  • 6. Ruffles (2011), 173.
  • 7. Randall (2009), 11.