The Rhine is not all it seems

It’s regrettable that the author of your otherwise informative article on the parapsychology institute did not include more details on the many evidences of fraud associated with that body (“Paranormal activity,” May 14). Indeed, Rhine himself, justifying his selection of positive trials in the Zener card guessing tests, once said to me ( this was in the early 1960s) that since the ability of psychics is sensitive to fatigue, there was no point in including negative trials in his analyses since, obviously, when the psychic failed it must have been due to fatigue!

As a young postdoctoral student (with a degree in botany), Rhine worked in the Harvard lab of McDougal, before the two of them came to Duke to establish the new university’s department of psychology and philosophy (later separated, at which time the original Rhine lab was opened at Duke).

Nobelist Peter Medawar, a distinguished biologist, once remarked that he found it curious that in the mornings, while at Harvard, young Rhine conducted studies on Lamarckian inheritance, and in the afternoons, experiments on psychokinesis.

The first requires the assumption that the wishes of the experimenter not influence the outcome, the second the contrary assumption that his desires would do so. The ability to maintain contradictory beliefs seems to characterize many parapsychologists. Their conclusions often remind me of a bumper sticker that can be seen hereabouts: “FOX News: Where facts don’t matter.”

Peter H. Klopfer, Professor emeritus, biology department, Duke University

Craig Lindsey a Go Go

I love Craig Lindsey’s review of Gringo a Go Go, especially the light-hearted true ’60s spirit of including imagination (tabs of acid!) and not just the facts (“It’s a go for Gringo a Go Go,” April 30). Of course, he’s not a big name on the food critic circuit that David A. Ross is but he’s providing the fanciful touch our alternative newspaper started with and should maintain.

Don’t forget, you may learn more from your younger writers and interns than they do from you, if they’re representing a good time. As for Gringo a Go Go, I want to go.

David L. Ross, Durham

Church and state

Aaron Lake Smith’s snark about last year’s “failed resolution to make Christianity our official religion in the state” was tediously misinformed “Watching drones, prayer and unions,” May 7.). He blasted that as an attempt to “overturn the separation of church and state,” but does not seem to understand that the whole “separation” concept applies exclusively to the federal governmenthence the First Amendment wording about how “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Many of the original 13 colonies were founded on terms explicitly friendly to religion (Congregationalist, Catholic, Quaker, etc.). Progressives who clutch fearfully at Mr. Jefferson’s paraphrase whenever anything even remotely Christian goes bump in the night should read up on American history first.

Patrick O’Hannigan, Morrrisville

Editor’s note: None of the tenets in the Bill of Rights applied to the state governments, which, if taken literally, would mean speech, press and assembly protections would not apply on the state and local level. However, the 14th Amendment protects all citizens with the privileges and immunities of the United States. Individual states are expressly prohibited from passing any laws that would abridge those constitutional protections.