Dr. Charles T. Tart on January 26th, 2017

A Visit/Tease from the Trickster?

Charles T. Tart

A funny thing happened this morning (1-26-17).  I awoke around my usual time and was lying in bed half-asleep, not quite dreaming, but thinking rather loosely, and found I was thinking about “ampere,” both the measure of electrical current, and the French scientist Ampère, for whom that unit is named.  I realized that while I knew a lot about early scientists, I didn’t really know anything about Ampère.  What was his first name, I wondered?  So I made a guess that it was probably René.  While realizing that you can hardly go wrong guessing that a Frenchman would be named René…Ampere

My fantasizing/thinking went on to wonder if Ampère had had a daughter.  If so, would she have been named Milly Ampère, a rather forced pun on the female name Mildred or Milly and ampere?  A deliberate pun on the electrical unit of the milliampere, one thousandth of an ampere.  I shared this silly punning with my wife Judy, who indeed thought it was silly!  (But she’s used to me…)

Fully waking and getting up, I found my thinking/fantasizing amusing, and I had no idea why I would’ve been thinking about ampere or Ampère.  I doubt that I’ve ever thought about them on waking before, although back in my days half a century ago as a ham radio operator and then a radio engineer, I was often concerned with the size of currents, measured in amperes or milliamperes.


After breakfast I wanted to learn more about the scientist Ampère, so I googled him and got the Wikipedia entry for Ampère.  As I wrote my wife,

“I was wrong in guessing René.  It’s André-Marie Ampère (1775–1836), but both first names rhyme well with René…”

I thought about this event occasionally on and off through breakfast, thinking there were no recent events in my life that would have me thinking about electrical currents and so lead to the word Ampère.

Then as I was getting dressed, I remembered a pleasant lunch with parapsychologist colleague Lloyd Auerbach yesterday, and we touched on the topic of the too common unreliability of paranormal effects actually occurring when you are ready to investigate them.  I told Lloyd that some of the older parapsychologists I had known back in the 60s and 70s sometimes thought that perhaps there was something of a “trickster” factor controlling paranormal events, they were allowed to happen often enough to keep us intrigued, but not often enough to let us make any real progress in understanding them.  For reasons perhaps known to whatever the “trickster” was, but not to us.  I also mentioned my parapsychologist colleague, Russell Targ, one of the pioneers in creating the remote viewing paradigm, who had once told me that although he has probably seen more instances of very strong ESP happening in remote viewing sessions than any other parapsychologists, once in a while he finds himself having doubting thoughts, is this psychic stuff really real?  Then he needs to see another example of strong psychic functioning to remove this nagging doubts.  He told me this in the context of a discussion we were having about the enormous cultural pressure in our times to deny the paranormal, and how it could affect even those of us working with the paranormal.

And then it hit me.  This Ampère business.  It might’ve happened as an illustration that indeed things happen for reasons beyond our understanding once in a while, to keep us interested, but this set of events was clearly too easy to write off as coincidence, not really demonstrating anything.  Darn!  Does it actually mean anything?  I wouldn’t claim anything definite for it.  Have I been trickstered?  Or is my mind just having further fun with a little nonsense?

Reading further in the Wikipedia entry, I find that Ampère had a son, but no daughter.  Goodbye Milly.

An interesting way to start a day.



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