McConnell, Robert A. (1914– )
Biophysicist and parapsychologist who was president of the
Parapsychological Association in 1958. McConnell was born
in Pennsylvania in 1914, and studied at Carnegie Institute of
Technology (B.S., physics, 1935) and the University of Pittsburgh
(Ph.D., physics, 1947). He worked as a physicist with
Gulf Research and Development, at a U.S. Naval aircraft factory
(1937–41), and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Radiation Laboratory, where he was a group leader (1944–46).
While at MIT he read of J. B. Rhine’s work in parapsychology
and, intrigued, delved into the literature of psychical research.
After graduation McConnell joined the faculty at the University
of Pittsburgh where he remained until his retirement in
1984, when he was named research professor emeritus. In addition
to his work in parapsychology, he also specialized in
radar moving target indication, theory of the iconoscope, and
ultrasonic microwaves. He was unusual for a parapsychologist
in an academic appointment in that he was able to spend the
majority of his research time in parapsychological work
throughout his active career. He was a founding member of the
Parapsychological Association and was the organization’s first
president (1957–58). He later served a second term in that office
(1977–78).
In addition to his articles in technical journals, McConnell
has written widely on parapsychology. He contributed chapters
to a Ciba Foundation symposium on Extrasensory Perception
(1956) and a symposium edited by Eileen J. Garrett, Does Man
Survive Death During his retirement he wrote Parapsychology in
Retrospect My Search for the Unicorn (1987).
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
McConnell, Robert A. Encounters with Parapsychology. Pittsburgh,
Pa. The Author, 1982.
———. ESP Curriculum Guide. New York Simon & Schuster,
1971.
———. An Introduction to Parapsychology in the Context of Science.
Pittsburgh, Pa. The Author, 1983.
———. Parapsychology and Self-Deception in Science. Pittsburgh,
Pa. The Author, 1982.
———. Parapsychology in Retrospect My Search for the Unicorn.
Pittsburgh, Pa. The Author, 1987.
McConnell, Robert A., and Gertrude Schmeidler. ESP and
Personality Patterns. New Haven, Conn. Yale University Press,
1958.
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York Helix Press, 1964.