C. E. M. Hansel

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C. E. M. Hansel
C. E. M. Hansel.png
Born12 October 1917
Died28 March 2011
OccupationPsychologist, writer

Charles Edward Mark Hansel (12 October 1917 – 28 March 2011) was a British psychologist most notable for his criticism of parapsychological studies.[1]


Hansel was born in 1917 in Bedford, England. He attended Bedford School and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, where studied Moral Sciences and earned an MA, before joining the faculty at the University of Manchester as a lecturer in Psychology in 1949.[2] He was an emeritus professor of psychology at Swansea University.[3]

His book ESP: A Scientific Evaluation (1966), revised (1980, 1989) evaluated the claims of parapsychology. Hansel argued that the possibility of fraud had not been ruled out and the experiments were poorly designed.[4] In the book he debunked many of the parapsychological experiments into ESP, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis as being based on error, misinterpretation and fraud. Hansel did not rule out the possibility of ESP but concluded there is no scientific evidence for it.[5]

Hansel had originally suspected that Samuel Soal's ESP data was fraudulent. Parapsychologists refused to accept this charge, but Hansel was later proven correct.[6][7]

Hansel was a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.[8]


Hansel's book received positive reviews from scientists and sceptics.[9][10][11] The physicist Victor J. Stenger noted that "Hansel succeeded brilliantly in exposing the shoddiness of the experimental procedures of Rhine's laboratory."[11] Robert Sheaffer gave the book a positive review stating Hansel's criticisms were devastating to the claims of ESP and the book was a serious challenge to parapsychology.[12]

It was heavily criticised by the parapsychologist John Beloff.[13] In 1966, the 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."[14] Hansel's revised edition in 1989 contained further studies and an appendix with replies to his critics.[15]

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.[16]


  • Hansel, C. E. M. Experiments on Telepathy. New Scientist (February 1959).
  • Hansel, C. E. M. Experimental Evidence for Extrasensory Perception. Nature (1959–60).
  • Hansel, C. E. M. A Critical Review of the Experiments on Mr. Basil Shackleton and Mrs. Gloria Stewart. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (May 1960).
  • Hansel, C. E. M. A Critical Analysis of the Pearce-Pratt Experiment. Journal of Parapsychology (June 1961).
  • Hansel, C. E. M. A Critical Analysis of the Pratt-Woodruff Experiment. Journal of Parapsychology (June 1961).
  • Hansel, C. E. M. Experiments on Telepathy in Children: A Reply to Sir Cyril Burt. British Journal of Statistical Psychology (November 1960).
  • Hansel, C. E. M. (Introduction by Edwin Boring). ESP: A Scientific Evaluation. Charles Scribner's Sons (1966). Rev. ed. as ESP and Parapsychology: A Critical Re-Evaluation. Prometheus Books (1980).
  • Hansel, C. E. M. Psychical History. Nature (August 1968).
  • Hansel, C. E. M. ESP: Deficiencies of Experimental Method. Nature (January 1969).
  • Hansel, C. E. M. A Critical Analysis of H. Schmidt's Psychokinesis Experiments. Skeptical Inquirer (1981).
  • Hansel, C. E. M. Fact or Fiction?. Nature (August 1986).
  • Hansel, C. E. M. The Search for Psychic Power. Prometheus Books (1989).


  1. ^ "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.
  2. ^ "Charles Edward Mark Hansel (1917–)". Answers.com. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012.
  3. ^ The Skeptical Inquirer. (1985). Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. p. 102
  4. ^ "British Research into Parapsychology". (1963). New Scientist. p. 172
  5. ^ "ESP: A Scientific Evaluation". Kirkus Reviews.
  6. ^ 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."
  7. ^ 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."
  8. ^ 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".
  9. ^ Gardner, Martin. (1966). "ESP: A Scientific Evaluation by C. E. M. Hansel". The New York Review of Books.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b 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
  12. ^ Sheaffer, Robert (1980). "Demythologizing ESP (Review)". Reason: 61–68.
  13. ^ Beloff, John. (1966). ESP: A Scientific Evaluation by C. E. M. Hansel. American Journal of Psychology. Vol. 79, No. 4. pp. 662–664.
  14. ^ Murphy, Gardner. (1966). ESP: A Scientific Evaluation by C. E. M. Hansel; E. G. Boring. American Scientist. Vol. 54, No. 3. pp. 339–340.
  15. ^ Hansel, C. E. M. (1989). The Search for Psychic Power. Prometheus Books. pp. 279–301. ISBN 0-87975-516-4
  16. ^ Marks, David; Kammann, Richard. (2000). The Psychology of the Psychic. Prometheus Books. pp. 15–17. ISBN 1-57392-798-8