C. E. M. Hansel

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C. E. M. Hansel
C. E. M. Hansel.png
Born(1917-10-12)12 October 1917
Bedford, England
Died28 March 2011(2011-03-28) (aged 93)
Alma materFitzwilliam College
OccupationPsychologist, writer
Gwenllian Evans
(m. 1954)

Charles Edward Mark Hansel (12 October 1917 – 28 March 2011) was a British psychologist most notable for his criticism of parapsychological studies.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Hansel was born in 1917 in Bedford, England and attended Bedford School as a child. He received a commission in the RAF Equipment branch as an acting pilot officer in April 1939, serving in England, Iraq, and Egypt. After his service, he attended Bournemouth Municipal College of Technology and Commerce, earning a BA, and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, where he studied Moral Sciences, Part II Psychology and earned his MA.[4]

Parapsychology career[edit]

Following his graduation in 1949, Hansel joined the faculty at the University of Manchester as a lecturer in Psychology.[4] He later moved to Swansea University where he became a Professor of Experimental Psychology and Head of the Department of Psychology.[5] Hansel was a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.[6]

Hansel's most well-known work is his book ESP: A Scientific Evaluation (1966), revised (1980, 1989). In it, he examined the areas of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis and analysed a number of major ESP experiments that claimed to have conclusively demonstrated the phenomenon. Hansel found that all of the research he examined suffered from poor experimental design which allowed for error, misinterpretation and fraud.[7] He suspected that the data from the Soal-Goldney experiments, run by Samuel Soal, was fraudulent but parapsychologists refused to accept Hansel's charge. However, Hansel was later proven to be correct.[8][9] Hansel noted that there was a history of "trickery" in psychical research[10] and reached the conclusion that although trickery was not necessarily the cause of the results, as long as it could not be ruled out ESP could not be claimed to have been conclusively demonstrated.[11][12] In his revised edition, Hansel (1980) points out that "after 100 years of research, not a single individual has been found who can demonstrate ESP to the satisfaction of independent investigators. For this reason alone it is unlikely that ESP exists".[13]


Hansel married in 1954 and had five children.[14]


Hansel's book received positive reviews from scientists and sceptics.[15] The physicist Victor J. Stenger noted that "Hansel succeeded brilliantly in exposing the shoddiness of the experimental procedures of Rhine's laboratory."[16] Robert Sheaffer stated that Hansel's criticisms were devastating to the claims of ESP and the book was a serious challenge to parapsychology.[17] Philosopher Antony Flew also gave a positive review, highlighting the failure of parapsychology to provide repeatable experiments.[18]

The work also received criticism with parapsychologist John Beloff claiming the book was little more than an attempt to explain away the evidence.[19] Parapsychologist Gardner Murphy gave it a mixed-review but recommended the book "as valuable for the parapsychologist in pointing out ways in which he must tighten his research."[20] Hansel's revised edition in 1989 contained further studies and an appendix with replies to his critics.[21]

The psychologist David Marks in his book The Psychology of the Psychic (2000) noted that his discovery of experimental error in parapsychological experiments confirmed the research of Hansel.[22]


  • Experiments on Telepathy. The New Scientist. 1959. pp. 457–459. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  • "Experimental Evidence for Extra-Sensory-Perception". Nature. 184 (4697): 1515–1516. 1959. Bibcode:1959Natur.184.1515H. doi:10.1038/1841515a0. PMID 14399569. S2CID 4157409.
  • "A Critical Review of the Experiments on Mr. Basil Shackleton and Mrs. Gloria Stewart as Sensitives". Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. 53 (190). 1960.
  • "Experiments on Telepathy in Children: A Reply to Sir Cyril Burt". British Journal of Statistical Psychology. 13 (2). 1960. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8317.1960.tb00055.x.
  • "A Critical Analysis of the Pearce-Pratt Experiment". The Journal of Parapsychology. 25 (2): 87. 1961.
  • "A Critical Analysis of the Pratt-Woodruff Experiment". The Journal of Parapsychology. 25 (2): 99. 1961.
  • ESP: A Scientific Evaluation. Scribner. 1966. ISBN 978-0684310503.
  • "Psychical History". Nature (August 1968).
  • "ESP: Deficiencies of Experimental Method". Nature. 221 (5186): 1171–1172. 1969. Bibcode:1969Natur.221.1171H. doi:10.1038/2211171a0. PMID 4975289. S2CID 4187882.
  • ESP and Parapsychology: A Critical Re-evaluation. Prometheus Books. 1980. ISBN 978-0879751203.
  • "A Critical Analysis Of H. Schmidt's PK Experiments". Skeptical Inquirer. 5 (3): 26–33. 1981. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  • "Fact or fiction?". Nature. 322 (6079): 505–506. 1986. Bibcode:1986Natur.322..505H. doi:10.1038/322505b0. S2CID 39810143.
  • The Search for Psychic Power: Esp & Parapsychology Revisited: ESP and Parapsychology Revisited. Prometheus Books. 1989. ISBN 978-0879755164.


  1. ^ "Marriage entry - Hansel". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Marriage entry – Evans". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  3. ^ "In Memoriam: Professor Charles Edward Mark Hansel (1947)" (PDF). Fitzwilliam Journal. Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. March 2012. p. 67. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Charles Edward Mark Hansel (1917–)". Answers.com. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012.
  5. ^ Jones, Lewis. (1986) "London CSICOP Conference". "The Skeptical Inquirer". Vol. 10, No. 2. p. 102.
  6. ^ Frazier, Kendrick. (1998). Encounters with the Paranormal: Science, Knowledge, and Belief. Prometheus Books. p. 11. ISBN 978-1573922036 "CSICOP's roster of Fellows appropriately includes a host of distinguished psychologists. Among them are James Alcock, Robert Baker, Barry Beyerstein, Susan Blackmore, Thomas Gilovich, C. E. M. Hansel".
  7. ^ "British Research into Parapsychology". (1963). New Scientist. p. 172
  8. ^ Kurtz, Paul. (2001). Skepticism and Humanism: The New Paradigm. p. 51. ISBN 0-7658-0051-9 "His book, ESP: A Scientific Evaluation was very influential in setting forth the skeptic's case against Soal, Rhine, and others. It was only in 1978, however, that Betty Markwick definitively showed that S. G. Soal had cheated in the Soal-Goldney tests and that random-number grading sheets, which he brought to the experiment and took back, were doctored. This scandal in parapsychology led to many people abandoning the field and becoming skeptics."
  9. ^ Gardner, Martin. (2009). When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish: And Other Speculations About This and That. Hill and Wang. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-374-53241-3 "In spite of numerous accusations of fraud by C. E. M. Hansel and other skeptics, leading parapsychologists refused to believe the charges until Betty Markwick published her sensational findings in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research."
  10. ^ Hansel, C.E.M. (1966). "ESP: A Scientific Evaluation". archive.org. New York, Scribner. p. 233. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  11. ^ Hansel, C.E.M. (1966). "ESP: A Scientific Evaluation". archive.org. New York, Scribner. p. 241. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  12. ^ "ESP: A Scientific Evaluation". Kirkus Reviews.
  13. ^ Hansel, C.E.M. (1980). "ESP and Parapsychology: A Critical Reevaluation". archive.org. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books. p. 314. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  14. ^ Hansel, C.E.M. (1966). "ESP: A Scientific Evaluation". archive.org. Buffalo, N.Y. : Prometheus Books. p. 264. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  15. ^ Gardner, Martin. (1966). "ESP: A Scientific Evaluation by C. E. M. Hansel". The New York Review of Books.
  16. ^ Stenger, Victor J. (1990). Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World Beyond the Senses. Prometheus Books. pp. 171–174. ISBN 0-87975-575-X
  17. ^ Sheaffer, Robert (1980). "Demythologizing ESP (Review)". Reason: 61–68.
  18. ^ Flew, Antony. (1968). ESP: A Scientific Evaluation by C. E. M. Hansel, E. C. Boring. The Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 18, No. 71. pp. 183–184.
  19. ^ Beloff, John. (1966). ESP: A Scientific Evaluation by C. E. M. Hansel. American Journal of Psychology. Vol. 79, No. 4. pp. 662–664.
  20. ^ Murphy, Gardner. (1966). ESP: A Scientific Evaluation by C. E. M. Hansel; E. G. Boring. American Scientist. Vol. 54, No. 3. pp. 339–340.
  21. ^ Hansel, C. E. M. (1989). The Search for Psychic Power. Prometheus Books. pp. 279–301. ISBN 0-87975-516-4
  22. ^ Marks, David; Kammann, Richard. (2000). The Psychology of the Psychic. Prometheus Books. pp. 15–17. ISBN 1-57392-798-8