Osis, Karlis (1917-1997)

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Osis, Karlis (1917-1997)

Parapsychologist who investigated extrasensory perception, spontaneous psi phenomena, and mediumship. He was born on December 26, 1917, at Riga, Latvia. After World War II he completed his graduate training in Germany at the University of Munich (Ph.D., 1950). His doctoral thesis concerned interpretations of Extrasensory Perception (ESP). He moved to the United States in 1950 on the displaced persons program after graduation and became a United States citizen in 1959.

His professional career in parapsychology began as a research associate at the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University (1951-57). Osis subsequently became director of research at the Parapsychology Foundation in New York City (1957-62), and in 1962 became director of research at American Society for Psychical Research. He was a council member of the Parapsychological Association and served as its president for one term (1961-62).

At Duke University from 1951-1957, he worked with J. B. Rhine and explored the relationship between ESP and psycho-kinesis, precognition, and psi between men and animals. In 1958, Osis investigated the poltergeist phenomena at Seaford, Long Island, N.Y., and concluded the facts did not support a paranormal explanation. His report was published in the March-April 1958 Newsletter of the Parapsychology Foundation. Among his studies were those concerning the effect of distance on ESP and the relationship between meditation and ESP. Before moving to the American Society for Psychical Research he began work on deathbed experiences indicative of survival.

Osis died December 26, 1997.


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

Osis, Karlis. Deathbed Observations by Physicians and Nurses. New York: Parapsychology Foundation, 1961.

. "ESP Tests at Long and Short Distances." Journal of Parapsychology 20, 2 (1956).

. "Out-of-the-Body Research at the ASPR." ASPR Newsletter 22 (1974),

. "A Test of the Relationship Between ESP and PK." Journal of Parapsychology 17, 4 (1953).

. "What Did The Dying See?" ASPR Newsletter 24 (1975).

Osis, Karlis, and Erlendur Haraldsson. At the Hour of Death. New York: Avon Books, 1977. Rev. ed.: New York: Hasting House, 1986.

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