SORRAT
Acronym for the Society for Research on Rapport and Telekinesis,
a group founded by John G. Neihardt. Meetings were
usually held at Neihardt’s home at Skyrim Farm, near Columbia,
Missouri.
Neihardt’s interest in psychic matters stemmed from his
close association with the Indian Rights movement from 1903
on. Neihardt was accepted as a participant in secret healing
ceremonies and was actively concerned with the Indian shaman
Black Elk, the subject of his book Black Elk Speaks (William Morrow,
1932). Neihardt’s wife, Mona, had been associated with
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. SORRAT
1437
Spiritualism and was mediumistic, and Neihardt investigated
the phenomena of various mediums.
The SORRAT group was formed during the mid-1960s with
a primary focus on the manipulation of matter by conscious
mental effort. Neihardt discussed the group methods with veteran
parapsychologist J. B. Rhine, in order to conduct experiments
in a congenial atmosphere that would also be fraudproof.
One technique employed was the ‘‘mini-lab’’—a sealed
transparent box containing target objects for testing psychokinesis.
With the assistance of parapsychologist Edward William
Cox, an automatic filming method was developed in which a
fixed movie camera and lights were trained on a mini-lab and
activated by an electrical signal. The former McDonnell Laboratory
for Psychic Research also supported these techniques.
From 1965 on, the SORRAT group performed experiments
tending to validate psychokinesis, levitation, apports, apparitions,
and communication with entities. However, the methods
of recording the phenomena were so poor that most parapsychologists
have dismissed the experiments as the unfortunate
work of unprepared amateurs and hence of no evidential value.
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Richards, John Thomas. SORRAT A History of the Neihardt
Psychokinesis Experiments, 1961–1981. Metuchen, N.J. Scarecrow
Press, 1982.

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