The Entity Letters describes a years-long sociological investigation of a sitter group that witnessed table movements, table levitations, poltergeist phenomena, earthquake effects, and other startling physical events. The group was known as the Society for Research on Rapport and Telekinesis (SORRAT), founded in 1961 by John G. Neihardt, the famous poet and author of the best-selling book Black Elk Speaks. SORRAT hoped to replicate Spiritualist phenomena to increase scientific understanding of psychokinesis (mind over matter). After meeting weekly for a few months, the group heard rapping sounds, seemingly from Black Elk and other spirits. The phenomena grew to include ostensibly spirit-written messages found within a sealed container called a mini-lab specially designed to preclude the possibility of fraud. Eventually, the “spirits” began communicating by mail with dozens of S0RRAT members, describing life after death, the nature of time, and spiritual development. The Entity Letters explores the idea that these kinds of experiences shaped ancient religions.
“James McClenon has written a courageous book which reflects his scientific curiosity, openness, and commitment to a ‘high-risk’ research topic. The kind of field study the author has described in detail is of great importance because it touches the core of paranormal macro-phenomena in the Western world. And it covers all the accompanying emotions, such as astonishment, doubt, skepticism, but also the excitement of having extraordinary experiences and getting in touch with something unexplainable. An important book.” — Gerhard Mayer, Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, Freiburg, Germany
“James McClenon presents a fascinating personal narrative of his search for paranormal phenomena. The SORRAT case is a perfect vehicle for demonstrating the value of openminded curiosity, combining physical science, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. This is truly a ‘supernatural mystery’ bedeviled by the ‘trickster.’ A classic.” — Charles F. Emmons, sociologist at Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania
James McClenon, Ph. D., a sociology professor and licensed clinical social worker, has written three books: Deviant Science: The Case of Parapsychology (University of Pennsylvania Press), Wondrous Events: Foundations of Religious Belief (University of Pennsylvania Press) and Wondrous Healing: Shamanism, Human Evolution, and the Origin of Religion (Northern Illinois University Press).