I don't use Twitter, Facebook etc, but do check the SPR's site as recent tweets are on the homepage. They have made quite an effort to digitise past copies of the Journal, Proceedings and other publications, and these, I believe, are free to access for members. They also have a collection of recordings of past lectures and study days; these were on audio cassettes, but I think there was a move to digitise these as well, though I don't know if this has happened.
Gauld's Mediumship and Survival was published in 1982 to mark the centenary of the founding of the SPR, as was MacKenzie's Hauntings and Apparitions. Yes, many of the more serious books can be dry, the Tyrrell one being a case in point. To be fair to the author, it was based on a lecture he gave (Myers' memorial lecture if I remember correctly) in 1942, to an audience of SPR members and others with an interest in parapsychology; so his audience and consequently readership of the book was quite a step away from, say, that for one by Peter Underwood. I agree that it is heavy going. I have read it several times and found myself re-reading many passages in an effort to grasp what he was trying to convey. I listened to a lecture by Andrew MacKenzie in which he said that he, too, had to go over some remarks of Tyrrell in order to understand them. Six Theories about Apparitions in SPR Proceedings 50 is, in my opinion, even more difficult to grasp, but, of course, the concepts that are being discussed are quite complex. Going back to MacKenzie and his Hauntings and Apparitions, the first couple of chapters are a decent summary on how the thinking about ghosts has developed over the years and worth a read.
Another of the centenary publications. This turned up in the Spitalfield Crypt charity shop, Watney Market, a few years back alongside copies of Harry Price's Poltergeist and Philip Paul's hard going Some Unseen Power. Someone around here is (I hope it's not a case of 'was') interested in the serious stuff, that's for sure.
Renée Haynes - The Society for Psychical Research: 1882-1982 A History
ln the centenary year of the Society for Psychical Research, Renée Haynes, editor of the Society's Joumal and Proceedings (1970-1981), has written a wide ranging and fascinating account of its investigations and their results.
Founded by a group in which Cambridge men played a large part "to examine without prejudice or prepossession . . . those faculties of man, real or supposed, which appear to be inexplicable in terms of any recognized hypotheses” the Society has had among its Presidents two Nobel Prize Winners, eight Fellows of the Royal Society, and a future Prime Minister: and among its members distinguished physicists, philosophers, biologists, writers, statisticians, painters, statesmen (Gladstone for one), criminologists, administrators and a Professor of electrical engineering.
Different aspects of its subject matter - and of the terms in which this has been interpreted - have been emphasised from time to time. Telepathy has always been to the fore, whether studied in spontaneous cases, in dual experiments involving diary keeping, in experiments at a distance between a transmitter and small groups, or in the mass experiments — made popular by J. B. Rhine — which can yield statistically important results.
Psychokinesis, the apparent effect of mind on matter, popular at first, soon fell under a cloud, but is now attracting considerable attention.
The early emphasis on the evidence for survival and the possibility of telepathy between the dead and the living has weakened and an interest in the technical side of laboratory work has sprung up.
Yet throughout the Society‘s history members have sought, not only to experiment, but to investigate the whole range of psi phenomena; to check on reported incidents, to find out whether they were indeed paranormal, and if so what they implied.
Many phenomena once attributed to miracle, trickery or illusion have come, largely through the pioneer work of the Society, to be widely accepted as factual, if not always explicable. Others, still hotly refuted, can arouse that bane of all learned societies, furor scholasticus.
Despite all the cases of fraud discovered and publicised, a hardcore of inexplicable but verified events remains to prove the worth of the Society's careful investigations, and to puzzle and intrigue the unbiased seeker after truth.
Renee Haynes is the author of many books, notably The Hidden Springs (a survey of beliefs about psi), The Seeing Eye, the Seeing l (about perception, sensory and extra sensory) and Philosopher King (a study of Benedict XIV, with special reference to his work on ESP).
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.