Charles Tart

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Charles T. Tart (born 1937) is an American psychologist and parapsychologist known for his psychological work on the nature of consciousness (particularly altered states of consciousness), as one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology, and for his research in scientific parapsychology. He earned his Ph. D. in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1963.[1]


Charles Tart was born on April 29, 1937 in Morrisville, Pennsylvania and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. He was active in amateur radio and worked as a radio engineer (with a First Class Radiotelephone License from the Federal Communications Commission) while a teenager. As an undergraduate, Tart first studied electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before transferring to Duke University to study psychology, on the advice of Dr Rhine of Duke. He received his doctoral degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1963, and then received postdoctoral training in hypnosis research with Professor Ernest R. Hilgard at Stanford University.[1]

His first books, Altered States of Consciousness (1969) and Transpersonal Psychologies (1975), became widely used texts that were instrumental in allowing these areas to become part of modern psychology.[1]

He is currently (2005) a Core Faculty Member at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (Palo Alto, California) and a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (Sausalito, California), as well as Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, where he served for 28 years, and emeritus member of the Monroe Institute board of advisors. Tart was the holder of the Bigelow Chair of Consciousness Studies at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and has served as a Visiting Professor in East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, as an Instructor in Psychiatry at the School of Medicine of the University of Virginia, and a consultant on government funded parapsychological research at the Stanford Research Institute (now known as SRI International).[1]

He was also integral in the theorizing and construction of the automatic ESP testing device the ESPATEACHER machine that was built at the University of Virginia. He supports Joseph McMoneagle's remote viewing claims that McMoneagle has remote viewed into the past, present, and future and has predicted future events.[2]

As well as a laboratory researcher, Tart has been a student of the Japanese martial art of Aikido (in which he holds a black belt), of meditation, of Gurdjieff's work, of Buddhism, and of other psychological and spiritual growth disciplines. Tart believes that the evidence of the paranormal is bringing science and spirit together.[3] His primary goal is to build bridges between the scientific and spiritual communities, and to help bring about a refinement and integration of Western and Eastern approaches for knowing the world and for personal and social growth.

In his 1986 book Waking Up, he introduced the phrase "consensus trance" to the lexicon. Tart likened normal waking consciousness to hypnotic trance. He discussed how each of us is from birth inducted to the trance of the society around us. Tart noted both similarities and differences between hypnotic trance induction and consensus trance induction. He emphasized the enormous and pervasive power of parents, teachers, religious leaders, political figures, and others to compel induction. Referring to the work of Gurdjieff and others he outlines a path to awakening based upon self-observation.


Tart has drawn criticism from the scientific community for his comments on a failed psychokinesis (PK) experiment. According to Terence Hines:

Charles Tart (1976) used a random number generator to study the possibility of training people to use psi. Subjects were given feedback on whether or not their responses were correct following each trial. Positive results were initially found, as subjects came to be able to match their responses to the numbers generated by the machine. It turned out, however, that the sequence of targets generated by the random number generator was not random. This finding renders highly problematic the contention that the experiment demonstrated psi.[4]

Tart responded by claiming the nonrandomness was due to a PK effect. Thus, he has claimed that a procedural flaw in the experiment itself is evidence for psi. Hines has written this is an example of the use of a nonfalsifiable hypothesis in parapsychology.[4] In 1980, Tart claimed that a rejudging of the transcripts from one of Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff’s remote viewing experiments revealed an above-chance result.[5] Targ and Puthoff refused to provide copies of the transcripts and it was not until July 1985 that they were made available for study when it was discovered they still contained sensory cues.[6] The psychologist David Marks and Christopher Scott (1986) wrote "considering the importance for the remote viewing hypothesis of adequate cue removal, Tart’s failure to perform this basic task seems beyond comprehension. As previously concluded, remote viewing has not been demonstrated in the experiments conducted by Puthoff and Targ, only the repeated failure of the investigators to remove sensory cues."[7] Tart has also been criticized by the skeptic Robert Todd Carroll for ignoring Occam's razor (advocating the paranormal instead of naturalistic explanations) and for ignoring the known laws of physics.[8]

In 1981, Tart received the James Randi Educational Foundation Media Pigasus Award "for discovering that the further in the future events are, the more difficult it is to predict them."[9]

Books authored or edited[edit]

  • Altered States of Consciousness (1969), editor. ISBN 0-471-84560-4
  • Transpersonal Psychologies (1975)
  • On Being Stoned: A Psychological Study of Marijuana Intoxication (1971)
  • States of Consciousness (1975)
  • Symposium on Consciousness (1975) With P. Lee, R. Ornstein, D. Galin & A. Deikman
  • Learning to Use Extrasensory Perception (1976)
  • Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm (1977)
  • Mind at Large: Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Symposia on the Nature of Extrasensory Perception (1979, with Harold E. Puthoff & Russel Targ)
  • Waking Up: Overcoming the Obstacles to Human Potential (1986)
  • Open Mind, Discriminating Mind: Reflections on Human Possibilities (1989)
  • Living the Mindful Life (1994).
  • Body Mind Spirit: Exploring the Parapsychology of Spirituality (1997). Examines the relationship between parapsychological abilities and human's spiritual nature, and was voted the March 1998 best metaphysical book selection of Amazon.Com.
  • Mind Science: Meditation Training for Practical People (2001).
  • States of Consciousness (2001). ISBN 0-595-15196-5
  • The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together (2009)

He has had more than 250 articles published in professional journals and books, including lead articles in such scientific journals as Science and Nature.

Audio Interviews[edit]


  • Distinguished Contributions to Scientific Hypnosis, The Society of Psychological Hypnosis (Division 30 of the American Psychological Association), 2001.[10]
  • Abraham Maslow Award (given to an individual for an outstanding and lasting contribution to the exploration of the farther reaches of human spirit), The Society for Humanistic Psychology (Division 32 of APA), 2004.[11]
  • Charles Honorton Integrative Contributions Award, The Parapsychological Association, 2008.[12]
  • Pigasus Award, Category 1 (To the scientist who said or did the silliest thing relating to parapsychology in the preceding twelve months), presented by James Randi, 1981.


  1. ^ a b c d "Brief Biographical Data". April 10, 1998. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  2. ^ The Ultimate Time Machine: A Remote Viewer's Perception of Time and Predictions for the New Millennium by Joseph McMoneagle, Foreword by Charles T. Tart, Hampton Roads Publishing Co., Inc., 1998
  3. ^ The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together by Charles T. Tart, New Harbinger Publications, 2009
  4. ^ a b Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 141. ISBN 1-57392-979-4
  5. ^ Charles Tart, Harold Puthoff, Russell Targ. (1980). Information Transmission in Remote Viewing Experiments. Nature 284: 191.
  6. ^ Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 136. ISBN 1-57392-979-4
  7. ^ David Marks, Christopher Scott. (1986). Remote Viewing Exposed. Nature 319: 444.
  8. ^ Robert Todd Carroll. (2013). Charles Tart at the The Skeptic's Dictionary.
  9. ^ James Randi (1982). The Truth About Uri Geller. Prometheus Books. p. 329. ISBN 0-87975-199-1
  10. ^ UC Davis News & Information :: Charles Tart
  11. ^ Abraham Maslow Award
  12. ^ Dr. Charles Tart Receives Award | Sofia University

External links[edit]