Pratt, J(oseph) G(aither) (1910-1979)

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Pratt, J(oseph) G(aither) (1910-1979)

Parapsychologist and chief assistant to J. B. Rhine at Duke University. Pratt was born on August 31, 1910, at Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He entered Duke University during the 1920s with the idea of becoming a Methodist minister (Duke is sponsored by the Methodist Church) but was diverted into parapsychology and stayed to complete work with Rhine and eventually earned his Ph.D. (B.A., 1931; M.A., 1933; Ph.D., 1936). After graduation he became a research associate and the assistant director at the Parapsychology Laboratory, a position he held (except for service with the United States Navy during World War II) until joining the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia in 1964. He remained at Virginia until his retirement. Pratt was a charter member of the Parapsychological Association and elected its president in 1960. He also served for many years on the editorial staff of the Journal of Parapsychology.

Pratt took a special interest in quantitative experiments in extrasensory perception. His early investigations at Duke University included the Pearce-Pratt series (with Hubert E. Pearce Jr.) and the Pratt-Woodruff series (with J. L. Woodruff. ) These ESP tests were critiqued by C. E. M. Hansel.

Pratt investigated the card-guesser Pavel Stepanek in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Stepanek was discovered by parapsychologist Milan Ryzl in 1961. Pratt and Ryzl collaborated on experiments with Stepanek in Prague and Charlottesville, Virginia, for several years.

As a parapsychologist, Pratt traveled in Europe, India, South Africa, and the Soviet Union. He had hoped to study the talented Russian PK subject Nina Kulagina, but did not obtain permission, although he saw her informally in a hotel. Pratt collaborated with H. J. Keil, Benson Herbert, and Montague Ullman on a monograph about Kulagina, published in Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, January 1976. He died November 3, 1979, at his home near Charlottesville, Virginia.


Pratt, J. G. "A Decade of Research with a Selected Subject." Proceedings of American Society for Psychical Research (1973).

. ESP Research Today: A Study of Developments in Parapsychology Since 1960. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1973.

. On the Evaluation of Verbal Material in Parapsychology. New York: Parapsychology Foundation, 1969.

. Parapsychology: An Insider's View of ESP. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1977.

. The Psychic Realm. New York: Random House, 1975.

Rhine, J. B., J. G. Pratt, et al. Extrasensory Perception After Sixty Years. New York: Henry Holt, 1940.

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Pratt, J(oseph) G(aither) (1910-1979)

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