Beloff, John 1920-2006
BELOFF, John 1920-2006
See index for CA sketch: Born April 19, 1920, in London, England; died June 1, 2006. Parapsychologist and author. Beloff was a pioneer in the field of parapsychology who established the first formal laboratory in the United Kingdom to study phenomena such as extrasensory perception (ESP). Considered by his parents to be the least intelligent and driven of their children, he suffered from an inferiority complex as a child and took up the study of architecture only at his parents' insistence. He did not enjoy the subject, however, and left school to enlist in the British Army during World War II. The army, too, rejected him, and he was invalided from service after two and a half years. It was only after reading Extrasensory Perception by J.B. Rhine that Beloff found his true calling. Fascinated by ESP and parapsychology, he decided to study psychology at the University of London. He graduated in 1952, and completed a doctorate at Queen's University in 1956. Beloff lectured at Queen's until 1963, when he joined the University of Edinburgh faculty. It was here that he established his laboratory, which was the first and, for many years, the only one of its kind. Beloff set out to prove through scientific experiment the claims of those who said they had successfully tested and witnessed paranormal events. Yet, despite Beloff's enthusiasm for the subject, he could never reproduce others' findings in his laboratory. His own personal sense of inadequacy came into play here, and Beloff blamed himself as a "psi-inhibitor" whose presence, for some reason, prevented paranormal events from happening. Critics of the paranormal, however, argued that Beloff's experiments showed that such things as ESP did not exist and that Beloff failed to reproduce their effects in the laboratory because he was a good scientist who created valid experiments. Beloff nevertheless steadfastly believed in his heart that there existed a world beyond the readily visible. He was a longtime member of the Society for Psychical Research, where he was a former president and for which he edited the Journal of the Society of Psychical Research from 1981 to 1999. The author of such books as Existence of Mind (1962) and Parapsychology: A Concise History (1993), Beloff, who was also a philosopher and avowed atheist, retired in 1995. He was recognized for his work in 1991, when he received the Outstanding Career in Parapsychology Award from the Parapsychological Association.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Times (London, England), June 16, 2006, p. 68.