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The Entity Letters
A Sociologist on the Trail of a Supernatural Mystery

by Jim McClenon

Trade Paperback, 382 Pages, 35 Illustrations

$22.95, ISBN: 1938398793

Genre(s): Paranormal

A Host of Phenomena that Boggle the Mind

The Entity Letters describes a years-long sociological investigation of a sitter group that witnessed table movements, table levitations, poltergeist phenomena, earthquake effects, and other startling physical events. The group was known as the Society for Research on Rapport and Telekinesis (SORRAT), founded in 1961 by John G. Neihardt, the famous poet and author of the best-selling book Black Elk Speaks. SORRAT hoped to replicate Spiritualist phenomena to increase scientific understanding of psychokinesis (mind over matter). After meeting weekly for a few months, the group heard rapping sounds, seemingly from Black Elk and other spirits. The phenomena grew to include ostensibly spirit-written messages found within a sealed container called a mini-lab specially designed to preclude the possibility of fraud. Eventually, the “spirits” began communicating by mail with dozens of S0RRAT members, describing life after death, the nature of time, and spiritual development. The Entity Letters explores the idea that these kinds of experiences shaped ancient religions.

About the Author:

James McClenon, Ph. D., a sociology professor and licensed clinical social worker, has written three books: Deviant Science: The Case of Parapsychology (University of Pennsylvania Press), Wondrous Events: Foundations of Religious Belief (University of Pennsylvania Press) and Wondrous Healing: Shamanism, Human Evolution, and the Origin of Religion (Northern Illinois University Press).

James McClenon interviewed by Jeffrey Mishlove

Some background on SORRAT:

Cast of Characters

Part 1- The Entity Letters (Original Manuscript: 1970-1983)
Chapter 1 – Beginning at the Edge
Chapter 2 – Drama in Rolla
Chapter 3 – Skyrim
Chapter 4 – Letters from the Spirits
Chapter 5 – Entity Games
Chapter 6 – Seeking Proof
Chapter 7 – Teaching and Healing
Chapter 8 – Cognitive Dissonance
Chapter 9 – Belief
Photo Gallery

Part 2 – The Entity Letters Update (2017)
Chapter 10 – A SORRAT History and Update

Part 3 - Theories
Chapter 11 – Psychical Research
Chapter 12 – Comparing SORRAT to Equivalent Cases
Chapter 13 – The Ritual Healing Theory

Appendix A – Comments from Participants
Appendix B – Do It Yourself: A Guide to Group Psychokinesis
Appendix C – SORRAT-Related Videotapes Available on YouTube

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What they're saying:

"James McClenon has written a courageous book which reflects his scientific curiosity, openness, and commitment to a 'high-risk' research topic. The kind of field study the author has described in detail is of great importance because it touches the core of paranormal macro-phenomena in the Western world. And it covers all the accompanying emotions, such as astonishment, doubt, skepticism, but also the excitement of having extraordinary experiences and getting in touch with something unexplainable. An important book." — Gerhard Mayer, Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, Freiburg, Germany

"James McClenon presents a fascinating personal narrative of his search for paranormal phenomena. The SORRAT case is a perfect vehicle for demonstrating the value of openminded curiosity, combining physical science, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. This is truly a 'supernatural mystery' bedeviled by the 'trickster.' A classic." — Charles F. Emmons, sociologist at Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania

"This is a serious book on a strange and unusual subject, that of the author’s researches as a sociologist into psychokinetic phenomena...It seems the author reaches the conclusion that there is almost a need for some element of fraud to 'prime the pump' so that rapport can be built with the entities. The essential ingredient appears to be an unconditional belief in the entities, and when this is harnessed in a group, very powerful emanations can follow. The question then is whether such entities actually exist, or have been conjured up from the dark recesses of the human mind, collective or individual...[One] drawback to scientific investigation is the fact that the ”entities” have the personalities of tricksters, who lie to people and who deliberately try to sabotage investigation by creating the impression of fraud...I found the subject matter and content of this book highly illuminating,"  — Robin Carlile, Magonia

"The Entity Letters is a valuable social commentary on the events that McClenon witnessed during a crucial time for parapsychology in the United States — the early 1980s — when the pressure exerted by militant scepticism was beginning to have an effect. This book should be viewed as essential reading for anyone involved in psychical research, whether in the field, or in the lab." — Steve Hume, Journal of the Society for Physical Research

"As evidence of the afterlife or even psychokinesis, the SORRAT saga is a puzzle and a mess. McClenon doesn't shy away from this, and recognizes the tricksters nature of the phenomena and, to an extent, those involved. His is the most reader-friendly, even endearing, and probably the most honest of three books [on the SORRAT phenomena]...A must-have for the average fortean's bookshelf."  Peter Brookesmith, Fortean Times


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