Hardy, Sir Alister Clavering (1896-1985)

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Hardy, Sir Alister Clavering (1896-1985)

Zoologist who was very active in the field of parapsychology. Hardy was born February 10, 1896, at Nottingham, England. He attended Oundle School and Exeter College, Oxford (M.A., D.Sc.). In 1920 he was a Christopher Welch Biological Research Scholar and Oxford Biological Scholar at Stazione Zoologica, Naples, Italy, after which he became an assistant naturalist with the Fisheries Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in England (1921-24) and chief zoologist on the Discovery expedition (1924-28).

In 1928 Hardy began his lengthy tenure (1928-42) as professor of zoology and oceanography at University College, Hull. In 1939 he was awarded the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of England. He spent three years (1942-45) as regius professor of natural history at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and in 1946 settled at Oxford University as Linacre Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, where he spent the rest of his life. He was knighted in 1957.

In addition to his work on zoology, oceanography, and marine ecology, Hardy took a keen interest in the significance of psychical research for biology, and as a member of the council of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), London, he sought to bring psychical and biological studies closer together. He made his views clear in his 1953 article "Biology and Psychical Research." He went on to write several important books, including The Living Stream: A Restatement of Evolution Theory and its Relation to the Spirit of Man (1965); The Divine Flame (1966); The Challenge of Chance (with R. Harvie and A. Koestler, 1973); The Biology of God (1975); and The Spiritual Nature of Man (1979). He served as president of the SPR from 1965 to 1969.

In 1969 Hardy founded the Religious Experience Research Unit at Manchester College, Oxford, and as its director he collected and analyzed firsthand accounts of religious experiences. These he specifically distinguished from psychical experiences involving ESP. He held a firm religious belief in "a Power which is greater than, and in part lies beyond the individual self."

Hardy died in Oxford May 23, 1985, at age 89. The Alister Hardy Research Center is located at 29-31 George St., Oxford OX1 2BR, England.


Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

Hardy, Sir Alister. "Biology and Psychical Research." Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 50, no. 183 (1953).

. The Biology of God. London: Jonathan Cape, 1975.

. The Divine Flame. London: Collins, 1966.

. The Living Stream: A Restatement of Evolution Theory and its Relation to the Spirit of Man. London: Collins, 1965.

. The Spiritual Nature of Man. Oxford: Clarendon, 1979.

. "Telepathy and Evolutionary Theory." Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 35 (1950).

Hardy, Sir Alister, R. Harvie, and Arthur Koestler. The Challenge of Chance: Experiment and Speculations. London: Hutchinson, 1973.

Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology. New York: Helix Press, 1964.

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Hardy, Sir Alister Clavering (1896-1985)

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