Owen, Iris M.

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Owen, Iris M.

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  • Iris May Pepper

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Iris May Owen, born Iris May Pepper, was a British immigrant to Canada who made significant contributions to the field of psychical research, particularly concerning table tilting and group psychokinesis (PK). Owen was born in Meldreth, in Cambridgeshire, England, in 1916. In the Second World War, she served in the armed forces as a radio intercept officer, helping to decode German “Enigma” messages. Following the war, Owen worked as a nurse in a cancer radiology clinic. She married her husband, A.R.G. (George) Owen in 1952 and had a son, Robin, in 1955. Both George and Iris were interested in researching psychical phenomena, particularly concerning psychokinesis and poltergeists. With her husband, Iris Owen spent much of the 1960s analyzing case studies of poltergeist phenomena and came to conclude that some poltergeist phenomena were indeed real. A particularly famous case began in 1966 and would occupy the Owens on and off again for several years: that of 11 year old Matthew Manning, who later visited Dr. and Mrs. Owen in Canada in 1974. Research such as this led in 1969 to the Owens being offered to direct parapsychology research for the Toronto based New Horizons Research Foundation (NHRF) for five years. They accepted the offer and came to Canada the following year. The New Horizons Research Foundation was a non-profit organization that dealt in psychical research and Dr. Owen became the foundation’s Vice President as well as the editor of its journal, “New Horizons: Journal of the New Horizons Research Foundation”, which published from 1972-1978 and incorporated the “Transactions of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research”. The Toronto Society for Psychical Research (TSPR) was another organization dedicated to psychical research, with Iris Owen as its Secretary-Treasurer. It was under the TSPR’s auspices that the Owens’ famous Philip experiment was conducted. Headed by Iris, the Philip experiment sought to recreate the table tilting experiments of British psychical researchers such as Kenneth J. Batcheldor, who determined that group psychokinesis was possible. To do so, an imaginary ghost named Philip was created as a way to guide and focus the sitter group’s psychical energy as questions were posed to and responses sought from the imaginary Philip. Iris published the experiment’s results in a 1976 book, “Conjuring up Philip: An Adventure in Psychokinesis”, where she concluded that table tilting is the result not of deceased spirits tilting the table, but of group psychokinesis – she firmly believed that the imaginary Philip only responded the way the group desired and provided no information that they as individuals or a group did not already possess. The Owens retired in 1994 and moved to Calgary, where Iris passed away in 2009.


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Henwood, Diana Andrienne (1933-2012)

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Members of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research (TSPR) and participants in the

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