William Aitken Fails on Prof. E. Haraldsson and Dr K. Osis
Posted by Barry Pittard on February 9, 2008
In this blogging and some upcoming ones, I shall be looking at Brian Steel’s article: Bill Aitken and Sathya Sai Baba. A Writer’s Dilemma, on Aitken’s book, Sri Sathya Sai Baba. A Life (New Delhi, Penguin Books India, 2004. Paperback edition, 2006).
Aitken speaks of his book as a counterweight to “excesses of hagiography”. Steel’s textual analysis, however, reveals beyond any dispute that the book is strongly, despite its claims to the contrary, hagiographical. It isolates “headline grabbing” and superficial views contra Sai Baba, while ignoring the large body of serious criticism by former devotees and other critics that has been taken seriously by many third parties. For example, see below for clickable video material from the BBC’s The Secret Swami and DR’s Seduced. See also, my fairly extensive resource compilation, Exposure of Sai Baba: Media Source List.
Brian Steel criticises Bill Aitken’s work for carelessly elevating a minor player, the US parapsychologist Dr Karlis Osis, to major importance and yet leaving out of account Osis’s more relevant and well known research partner, Professor Erlandur (other spelling=Elendur)Haraldsson, author of Miracles Are My Visiting Cards. USA Title, (1988). Modern Miracles. An investigative report on psychic phenomena associated with Sri Sathya Sai Baba. New York: Ballantine Books, 304 pp. This is a work, sold in the many thousands, which Sai Baba devotees commonly – and very mistakenly – hail as ‘proving’ that his so-called miracles are all real.
“The author’s preference for Murphet’s quote about the minor participant (Osis) and his inexplicable lack of curiosity about one of the most influential books in the SSB literature is an important flaw in the research for this book, especially since Aitken fleetingly mentions Haraldsson’s book (on p. 220), but merely to recommend its coverage of miracle stories”.
Dr E. Haraldsson, Emeritus Professor of the University of Iceland, Reykjavík, a leading academic parapsychology researcher. Incorrectly and widely cited by Sai Baba devotees as having ‘proved’ Sai Baba’s claims to have extraordinary psychic powers.
Professor Haraldsson’s careful and exhaustive investigations discredited Sai Baba’s claim to have ‘resurrected’ Walter Cowan, which the crypto-/ virtual devotee Aitken fails to note. Morover, Osis is promoted as an expert in Kirlian photography. In fact, ‘photographs of auras’ have been shown to be explainable by physics other than by any supposed ‘aura’. There is an interesting Wikipedia article which notes how Kirlian photography has been discredited in the scientific community.
To be continued shortly
See The Secret Swami HERE. Available in broadband and modem
Seduced (DR, Danish Broadcasting, Denmark’s national television and radio broadcaster):
(80 MB, Broadband)
(21 MB, Modem)
- Dr Elendur Haraldsson, University of Iceland Faculty of Social Science. Dr E. Haraldsson’s webpage (English version), with his email contact details
- Erlendur Haraldsson, Wikipedia entry
- How Not to Study Paranormal Phenomena. Book Review by Babu Gogineni, Director, International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). This looks at critically at Haraldsson’s work on Sai Baba, and says that the former has not responded to the points made.