Pickering, Edward Charles (1846–1919)
Distinguished astronomer and a founding member of the
American Society for Psychical Research. He was born on
July 19, 1846, in Boston, Massachusetts. He studied at the Lawrence
Scientific School of Harvard University (B.S., 1865).
After graduation he taught mathematics and physics at Lawrence
(1865–67) and then became a professor of physics at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1868–77). In 1877 he
was appointed director of the Harvard Observatory, a position
he held for 42 years. Pickering devised methods of measuring
the magnitudes of stars and supervised the cataloguing of some
80,000 stars. He also established the Harvard Observatory auxiliary
station at Arequipa, Peru, in 1891.
In the field of parapsychology, Pickering was vice president
of the American Society for Psychical Research from 1885 to
1888 and served on the society’s Committee on Thought
Transference. He participated in the statistical analysis of experiments
in telepathy using cards, dice, and numbers, a precursor
to the methods later championed by parapsychology.
He died on February 3, 1919, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Pickering, Edward Charles. ‘‘Possibility of Errors in Scientific
Researches, Due to Thought-Transference.’’ Proceedings of
the American Society for Psychical Research 1 (1885).
Pickering, Edward Charles, and J. M. Peirce. ‘‘Discussion of
Returns in Response to Circular No. 4.’’ Proceedings of the
American Society for Psychical Research 1 (July 1885).
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York Helix Press, 1964.

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