Castaneda and Psychic Research

Karlis Osis, research fellow at the American Society for Psychic Research in NY, wrote a letter to the editor published in the March 1978 issue of Psychology Today responding to a critical piece by Sam Keen that the magazine had published to accompany an excerpt from The Second Ring of Power.

Osis wrote, "A few years ago, a well-known psychologist asked for my cooperation in an experiment with Castaneda. Castaneda had agreed to send an ally to a place where scientific instruments would be rigged up to detect its presence. According to the psychologist, Castaneda said that such a visit would contaminate the place to such an extent that no human being could stay there afterward without great harm. He therefore suggested that we use a house that had been condemned for destruction. I courageously offered the laboratory of the American Society for Psychical Research--replete with such gadgetry as an eight-channel polygraph, a video system, a soundproof room--and assumed all responsibility for any ensuing danger. Neither Castaneda nor the ally ever showed up."

Osis further suggested, "I hope that Castaneda will live up to his calling as a powerful writer and avoid scheming up cheap miracles. The University of California might one day, I surmise, live up to its 'tonal' obligations and admit its mistake concerning Castaneda's Ph.D. in anthropology while, in deep reverence for the 'nagual,' granting him an honorary doctorate for his valuable service to American literature."