D. Scott Rogo
1950-1990. One of the most widely
respected writer-journalists covering the field of
parapsychology. Attended the University of Cincinnati and then
San Fernando Valley State College from which he graduated in
1972 with a B.A. in music. 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 ganzfeld and conducted a study on personality factors of
successful ganzfeld subjects. Scott was also active in field
investigations of hauntings and poltergeists. 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. Scott was
also consulting editor for Fate where he wrote a regular
column on parapsychology. Tragically, on August 18, 1990, Scott
was found stabbed to death in his home.
ONE OF the more curious chapters in the history of American jurisprudence dates
back to 1967, when an eccentric Arizona prospector named James Kidd was declared
legally dead. He had disappeared into the desert surrounding Phoenix in 1949.
Such an occurrence probably would have gone unnoticed by the papers and the
public ... except for a bizarre catch to the case. When the prospector
disappeared, he left about $175,000 in cash and stocks in his bank account. He
also left behind a handwritten will dated 2 January 1946 which stated, in part,
that the bulk of his estate should go towards '... research of some scientific
proof of a soul of the human body which leaves at death...'
When news of the will was made public, it caused somewhat of a furore. Soon the
superior court in Phoenix was deluged with claimants, each hoping to profit from
the will. There were psychics, churches, philosophers, research institutes, and
a variety of eccentrics, all laying claim to the money. The hearings held by the
court over the next few months were filled with deep philosophical discussions
as well as humour. One 'psychic' woman from Los Angeles demonstrated for the
court how her 'spirit guide' could answer questions through her, while she kept
a hair-drier running so she couldn't hear what was being asked! A philosophy
teacher from a junior college in California testified that he could prove the
existence of the soul through logic, while the Arizona-based Barrow Neurological
Institute petitioned to conduct brain research with the funds. Parapsychologists
were intrigued by the will as well, and both the American Society for Psychical
Research (ASPR, from New York) and the Psychical Research Foundation (PRF, from
Durham, North Carolina) sent representatives to testify.
The hearings finally became known as 'The Great Soul Trial', and the court's
final decision was rather anti-climactic. Judge Robert J. Myers awarded the
funds to the Barrow people, arguing that the money would best be used in some
practical research pursuit.
 Fuller, John. The Great Soul Trial. New
York: Macmillan, 1969.
The decision enraged several of the claimants, who pointed out that the
institute had previously disqualified itself by its own testimony.
Representatives sent by the Institute explained during the hearings that they
wouldn't conduct research on the soul, so the critics were justified in their
protests. Eventually both the American Society for Psychical Research and the
Psychical Research Foundation, which had been founded in 1960 expressly to
research the survival problem, filed appeals. The state supreme court was more
sympathetic than the superior court, and after reviewing the case, Judge Myers
was ordered to re-rule his decision. This left him little alternative but to
award the money to the ASPR, since the Society aptly demonstrated during the
earlier hearings that it was historically concerned with finding evidence for
life after death. They in turn, decided to share the bequest with the PRF.
The strange case of James Kidd and his will provided parapsychology with a
curious precedent. It publicly and (in a sense) legally acknowledged that the
question of life after death could be scientifically studied. It also
established that the science of parapsychology was best qualified to undertake
the challenge. The re-ruling of the lower court was probably influenced by the
testimony of the late
Dr. Gardner Murphy, who was the president of the ASPR at the time and also an
eminent psychologist. Murphy took pains to explain during his testimony that the
field had long devoted itself to the study of apparitions, deathbed visions,
mediumship and other psychic phenomena. These were rare occurrences that
suggested that occasionally we among the living can glimpse the world unseen.
Now the court found itself agreeing on the matter.
But if parapsychology has been exploring the survival question for so long why
is the case for life after death still open? For; while a rich historical
literature exists on the subject, the ultimate proof of life after death remains
Next part (2): The Foundations of Survival Research
More parts to this article:
Part 1: The Case of James Kidd (current page)
Part 2: The Foundations of Survival Research
Part 3: Apparitions and the Case for Survival
Part 4: Mediumship and the Case for Survival
Part 5: Cross-correspondences
Part 6: New Developments in Research on Mediumship
D. Scott Rogo's "Life After Death. The Case
for Survival of Bodily Death" (London: Guild Publishing, 1986).