Dodds, Eric Robertson (1893–1979)
Professor of Greek who was closely associated with psychical
research. He was born July 26, 1893, in Northern Ireland, studied
at Belfast, and did postgraduate work at University College,
Oxford. He began his teaching career in 1924 as a professor of
Greek at the University of Birmingham. He then became a regius
professor of Greek at Oxford University in 1936, a post he
retained until his retirement in 1960. Dodds then served as
president of the Society for Psychical Research, London,
from 1961 to 1963.
In his presidential address in 1962, Dodds stated that his
first introduction to psychical research was through the book
Human Personality & Its Survival of Bodily Death, by F. W. H.
Myers. Although impressed by the evidence in this work, he
said he saw no prospect of making ‘‘even a modest livelihood
by psychical research’’ and so became a professional Greek
scholar ‘‘with psychical research as a spare time occupation.’’
He contributed a number of articles to the Journal of the Society
for Psychical Research as well as to other publications. He discussed
the problem of psi phenomena in his autobiography
Missing Persons (1977).
Dodds is remembered as one of the more rigorous thinkers
in psychical research. His most famous paper concerned survival
and his disbelief in the acceptability of the reported evidence
for it. He concluded that all of the paranormal data collected
in the search for evidence of survival could be explained
by super extrasensory perception.
He died April 8, 1979, in England.
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon
House, 1991.
Dodds, Eric R. The Greeks and the Irrational. Berkeley, Calif.:
University of California Press, 1951.
———. Missing Persons: An Autobiography. Oxford: Clearendon
Press, 1977.
———. ‘‘Supernormal Phenomena in Classical Antiquity.’’
Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 55 (1971): 189.
———. ‘‘Why I Do Not Believe in Survival.’’ Proceedings of
the Society for Psychical Research 42 (1934): 147.
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York: Helix Press, 1964.