views updated


Acronym for the Society for Research on Rapport and Telekinesis, a group founded by John G. Neihardt. Meetings were usually held at Neihardt's home at Skyrim Farm, near Columbia, Missouri.

Neihardt's interest in psychic matters stemmed from his close association with the Indian Rights movement from 1903 on. Neihardt was accepted as a participant in secret healing ceremonies and was actively concerned with the Indian shaman Black Elk, the subject of his book Black Elk Speaks (William Morrow, 1932). Neihardt's wife, Mona, had been associated withSpiritualism and was mediumistic, and Neihardt investigated the phenomena of various mediums.

The SORRAT group was formed during the mid-1960s with a primary focus on the manipulation of matter by conscious mental effort. Neihardt discussed the group methods with veteran parapsychologist J. B. Rhine, in order to conduct experiments in a congenial atmosphere that would also be fraud -proof.

One technique employed was the "mini-lab"a sealed transparent box containing target objects for testing psychokinesis. With the assistance of parapsychologist Edward William Cox, an automatic filming method was developed in which a fixed movie camera and lights were trained on a mini-lab and activated by an electrical signal. The former McDonnell Laboratory for Psychic Research also supported these techniques. From 1965 on, the SORRAT group performed experiments tending to validate psychokinesis, levitation, apports, apparitions, and communication with entities. However, the methods of recording the phenomena were so poor that most parapsychologists have dismissed the experiments as the unfortunate work of unprepared amateurs and hence of no evidential value.


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

Richards, John Thomas. SORRAT: A History of the Neihardt Psychokinesis Experiments, 1961-1981. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1982.