Carl Sargent

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Carl L. Sargent (born December 11, 1952,[citation needed] in Caerleon, Monmouthshire, Wales[citation needed] died November 12, 2018 [1]) was a British parapsychologist and author of several roleplaying game-based products and novels, using the pen name Keith Martin to write Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Sargent was schooled in South Wales and the West of England. He then attended Churchill College, Cambridge, majoring in the natural sciences, and graduated with honours in psychology in 1974. He received a PhD in 1979 for a work which bore on parapsychology, and went on to undertake post-doctoral research in parapsychology at the Psychological Laboratory of the University of Cambridge. Sargent was the first parapsychologist to obtain a Cambridge doctorate.[3] He taught psychology at the same university.[citation needed] Many of his experiments were made using students from the science and geography departments opposite the Psychology department on the Downing Site, paying £2-3 per experiment; the main task would be to guess the colour or value of the next card to be chosen.[citation needed]

Games[edit]

Sargent started playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1978 through friends. TSR UK were based in Cambridge, and they met with Sargent after he had submitted an article to Imagine magazine. The TSR UK crew later left to work for Games Workshop.

Sargent authored various Fighting Fantasy gamebooks and novels for Games Workshop from 1988-1995, some under the pseudonym Keith Martin.[4]:46 In 1989 Games Workshop spun off its sole remaining RPG line, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, into a new subsidiary called Flame Publications; Sargent was one of the freelancers that aided this new company.[4]:50 Sargent still did work for TSR, and his From the Ashes (1992) supplement pushed the Greyhawk world into a more conflictive period.[4]:25

He later worked as a freelance designer, and was brought in by TSR to work on Greyhawk. Most of his role-playing works were published between 1987 and 1996. He has authored many products for the Dungeons & Dragons (particularly for the World of Greyhawk setting), Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Shadowrun roleplaying games.

Parapsychology[edit]

Sargent holds a PhD in psychology (or experimental parapsychology), which he earned in 1979. He is known to have performed numerous ganzfeld experiments at the University of Cambridge (a photograph of Sargent performing such an experiment appears in the Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, page 129). His published works in this field include Explaining the Unexplained: Mysteries of the Paranormal, co-authored with Hans Eysenck. The book received a positive review in the New Scientist by John Beloff who described it as "an introduction to parapsychology that one can put into the hands of an inquiring student without embarressment."[5]

In their book Sargent and Eysenck argued that the experiments of William Crookes with the medium Daniel Dunglas Home were evidence for supernatural powers.[6] Sargent wrote a negative review for Ruth Brandon's The Spiritualists, a book which claimed Home and other spiritualist mediums were fraudulent.[7] R. W. Morrell commenting in the New Scientist on the review wrote "Carl Sargent would have us believe that D. D. Home was not caught out as a fraud. Sadly for Dr Sargent, though, he was", Morrell concluded that Sargent had displayed a personal gullibility.[8]

Sargent's ganzfeld experiments have been criticized by scientists for being open to error and fraud. Susan Blackmore, who visited Sargent's laboratory in Cambridge, detected several errors and failures to follow the protocol during an experiment. Sargent would later leave the field of parapsychology altogether.[9]

Writing for Skeptical Inquirer Blackmore states that Sargent "deliberately violated his own protocols and in one trial had almost certainly cheated." Psychologists reading Daryl Bem's review in Psychological Bulletin would "not have a clue that serious doubt had been cast on more than a quarter of the studies involved" Sargent and Chuck Honortons. When Blackmore confronted Sargent, he told her "it wouldn't matter if some experiments were unreliable because, after all, we know that psi exists". Blackmore also recounts having a discussion with Bem at a consciousness conference where she challenged him on his support of Sargent and Honorton's research, he replied "it did not matter". Blackmore writes, "But it does matter. ... It matters because Bem's continued claims mislead a willing public into believing that there is reputable scientific evidence for ESP in the Ganzfeld when there is not".[10]

Publications[edit]

Role-playing[edit]

Parapsychology[edit]

As Keith Martin[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://officialfightingfantasy.blogspot.com/2018/11/carl-sargent-1952-2018.html?m=1
  2. ^ You are the hero, Jonathan Green, page 164
  3. ^ Nicholas Humphrey. (1999). Leaps of Faith: Science, Miracles, and the Search for Supernatural Consolation. Copernicus. p. 161. ISBN 0-387-98720-7
  4. ^ a b c Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  5. ^ Beloff, John (16 September 1982). "Explaining the Unexplained"". New Scientist. p. 784. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018.
  6. ^ Brandon, Ruth (16 June 1983). "Scientists and the Supernormal". New Scientist. pp. 783–786. Archived from the original on 23 December 2016.
  7. ^ Sargent, Carl (24 November 1983). "A Clash of Beliefs". New Scientist. p. 580. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018.
  8. ^ Morrell, R. W. (8 December 1983). "True Believers". New Scientist. p. 763. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018.
  9. ^ Blackmore, Susan (2001). "What Can the Paranormal Teach Us About Consciousness?". Csicop.org. Archived from the original on 7 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  10. ^ Blackmore, Susan (2018). "Daryl Bem and Psi in the Ganzfeld". Skeptical Inquirer. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. 42 (3): 44–45.
  11. ^ Green; Jonathan (2014) You Are the Hero: A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks. Snowbooks Ltd, p. 164. ISBN 9-781909-679368

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]