William G. Roll
1926 – 2012
By Noah Ankney
William G. Roll was born on July 3rd, 1926 in Bremen, Germany. At a young age his parents divorced and he stayed with his mother in Denmark. It would be here Roll would have his first experiences with the supernatural in the form of out of body experiences. In 1942 his mother, Gudrun Agerholm Roll, passed away and in 1946 he headed to the United States after participating in the war against the Germans.
A year later, 1947, Roll would enroll at the University of California, Berkeley where he would later receive his BA in Philosophy and Psychology. With Roll’s interest in the paranormal, he would head to Oxford where he would study Parapsychology for 8 years and would later write his Thesis on “Theory and Experiment in Psychical Research” which would earn him his M. Litt degree. During his tenure at Oxford, he held the title of President at Oxford University Society for Psychical Research.
Due to Roll’s expertise and numerous literary contributions in the form of investigation research papers and articles, he would later be invited to join Parapsychology Laboratory of Duke University by J.B. Rhine where he worked from 1957-1964. It would be during this time where Roll would venture to his first case that would lead him to coin a very popular term in Poltergeist research, Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis, or RSPK. The case took place at Seaford, Long Island, NY. It was also during this time he would be appointed project director at the Psychical Research Foundation and elected president of the Parapsychological Association.
After Rhine’s departure from Duke in 1964, The Psychical Research Foundation would become a sponsored program at the Department of Electrical Engineering. Twenty-two years later in 1986, Roll was appointed Professor of Psychical Research and Psychology at West Georgia College (now known as State University of West Georgia) with funding from PRF. Since 1990, Roll had been teaching Parapsychology at the University as an adjunct professor.
As a Parapsychologist, Roll would write and co-author hundreds of scientific papers, edit numerous volumes of established text in Parapsychological Research and author four books entitled, “The Poltergeist” (1972), “Theory and Experiment in Psychical Research” (1975, his M.Litt. thesis),” Psychic Connections” (1995, with Lois Duncan), and “Unleashed” (2004, with Valerie Storey). In 1996 he received the Parapsychological Association’s award for a Distinguished Career in Parapsychology. In 2002 he was awarded the Dinsdale Memorial Award by the Society for Scientific Investigation for his RSPK studies.
Roll remained active in paranormal research right up till his passing – in fact, on the date of his passing the journal Neurocase posted the abstract for a new article that he was lead author on, “Case report: A prototypical experience of ‘poltergeist’ activity, conspicuous quantitative electroencephalographic patterns, and sLORETA profiles – suggestions for intervention”
On January 9th, 2012, William G. Roll passed away at the McLean County Nursing Home in Normal, Illinois at the age of 85. William Roll will be missed by many in the paranormal/scientific community as well as everyone who knew him.
“Obituary: Dr. William G. Roll” Parapsychological Association. 10 Jan 2012. <http://www.parapsych.org/articles/37/129/obituary_dr_william_g_roll.aspx>
Greg “William G. Roll 1926-2012″ Daily Grail. 10 Jan 2012. <http://dailygrail.com/2012/1/William-G-Roll-1926-2012>
“Who is William G. Roll?” Parapsychological Association. Archives<http://archived.parapsych.org/members/w_g_roll.html>
Roll, W. G. (1968). Some physical and psychological aspects of a series of poltergeist phenomena. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 62, 263-308.
Roll, W.G. (1969). The Newark disturbances. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 63, 123-174.
Roll, W.G. (1970). Poltergeist phenomena and interpersonal relations. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 64, 66-99.
Roll, W.G. (2003). Poltergeists, electromagnetism and consciousness. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 17, 75-86.
Roll, W.G. (2004). The Poltergeist. New York: Paraview (reprint of 1979 edition).
Roll, W.G. (1993). The question of RSPK vs. fraud in the case of Tina Resch. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 36th Annual Convention, 456-482.
Roll, W.G. (2000). Poltergeist and space-time: A contemplation on Hans Bender’s Ideas
About RSPK. The Parapsychological Association, 43rd Annual Convention, Proceedings of Presented Papers, August 17-20, 316-332.
Roll, W.G., Burdick, D., & Joines, W.T. (1973). Radial and tangential forces in the Miami poltergeist. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 67, 267-281.
Roll, W.G., Burdick, D., & Joines, W.T. (1974). The rotating beam theory and the Olive Hill poltergeist. In W.G. Roll, RL. Morris & J. Morris (Eds.), Research in Parapsychology, 1973, (pp. 64-67). Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow.
Roll, W.G., & Gearhart, L. (1974). Geomagnetic perturbations and RSPK. In W.G. Roll, RL. Morris & J. Morris (Eds.), Research in Parapsychology, 1973, (pp. 44-46). Metuchen, N.J: Scarecrow.
Roll, W.G., Maher, M., & Brown, B. (1992). An investigation of reported haunting occurrences in a Japanese restaurant in Georgia. The Parapsychological Association 35th Annual Convention, Proceedings of Presented Papers, August 9-13, 151-168.
Roll, W.G., Moody, R, & Radin, D. (1996). Reports of hauntings at Dragsholm Castle, Denmark, and Engso Castle, Sweden. The Parapsychological Association, 39th Annual Convention, Proceedings of Presented Papers, August 17-19, 253-270.
Roll, W.G. & Nichols, A. (1999). A haunting at an Army post. The Parapsychological Association 42nd Annual Convention, Proceedings of Presented Papers, August 4-8, 253-270.
Roll, W.G. & Nichols, A. (2000). Psychological and electromagnetic aspects of haunts. The Parapsychological Association 43rd Annual Convention, Proceedings of Presented Papers, August 17-20, 364-378.
Roll, W.G. & Persinger, M.A. (1998). Poltergeist and nonlocality: Energetic aspects of RSPK. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 41st Annual Convention, August 6-9, 1998, 184-198.
Roll, W.G., & Pratt, J.G. (1971). The Miami disturbances. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 65, 409-454.
Roll, W.G., Sheehan, L.C., Persinger, M.A., & Glass, A.Y. (1996). The haunting of White Ranch. The Parapsychological Association Annual Convention, Proceedings of Presented Papers, August, 17-20, 279-294.
Roll, W.G., & Stump, J. (1969). The Olive Hill poltergeist. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association 6, 57-58.
Stewart, J.L., Roll, W.G., & Baumann, S. (1987). Hypnotic suggestion and RSPK. In D.H. Weiner & RD. Nelson (Eds.), Research in Parapsychology, 1986, (pp. 30-35). Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow.