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Hasted, Professor John

Category: Scientist

 

Professor John Barrett Hasted (February 17, 1921 – May 4, 2002) was a British atomic physicist and folk musician.

He was born in Woodbridge, Suffolk in 1921 in a house next door to where Edward Fitzgerald, the translator of "The Rubaiyat" once lived.   Described as a “brilliant student”, he won a scholarship to Oxford and later in life became head of the physics department at Birbeck College, London, a post he held until his retirement in 1984.  Professor Hasted was the author of Physics Of Atomic Collisions (1964), Aqueous Dielectrics (1973), and his autobiography, Alternative Memoirs (1992).

What is of interest to this site, however, is his rejection of the direction theoretical physics took in the ‘60s and beyond, his search to find alternative answers in the thousands upon thousands of observations and experiments rejected by the more materialistic theoretical physicists of his day, and his very thorough and extremely carefully planned research into a host of so called paranormal phenomenon.  His book The Metal Benders (1981), documents his work and results and we have used extracts to detail his findings. 

 

From THE METAL-BENDERS” by JOHN B. HASTED

Psychic research is an underrated branch of science; it is likely to lead to a depth of understanding of reality greater than that which we already have; and the social consequences of such an understanding could be very great. ….. although many observations have been made and some valuable knowledge obtained about the patterns of psychic behaviour, there is next to nothing which could be described as a theory by which the phenomena might be interpreted. The lack of such a theory has led to the observations themselves being discredited, and indeed there are various social and psychological pressures which reinforce this discredit. It is an interesting example of the thesis that scientific observations are often judged by social criteria.

Career

 

Professor Hasted was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, where he read chemistry. Hasted was born after the First World War, at a time when working men were denied free education, when universal health care had not been introduced and when the depression was really beginning to bite and have its appalling effects. 

The Jarrow March of 5–31 October 1936, for example, also known as the Jarrow Crusade, was an organised protest against the unemployment and poverty suffered in the British Tyneside town of Jarrow during the 1930s and took place when Hasted was 15.

The Church at the time took little interest in the plight of these men and Hasted became interested in Marxism as a solution.  He visited the WMA's London offices and launched the Oxford Workers' And Students' Choir.  Thus he had a streak of idealism and compassion that stayed with him throughout his life, although after he had served in the army during the Second World War, and seen Communism first hand, his ideas changed and he largely abandoned his far left political views.  The idealism, compassion and need to search for truth, however, was never abandoned.

During the years of the Second World War, Professor Hasted worked with the Telecommunications Research Establishment and then back in Oxford, he specialised in dielectric constants. In 1948 he became a University College London lecturer, while researching atomic physics. In 1964 his Physics Of Atomic Collisions was published.

THE METAL-BENDERS” by JOHN B. HASTED

Always to some extent dissatisfied with existing physical theory, I became interested in psychic research when the young Uri Geller visited England to demonstrate paranormal metal-bending on television. Once I became committed by my own observations to recognizing that these peculiar physical phenomena really took place, I started to spend time on observations, in the belief that the phenomena demanded a new approach in physics in order to explain them.

The end of theoretical physics

 

The 60s saw some fundamental changes in the way theoretical physics evolved and for that matter chemistry, medicine and biology. 

America’s academics had turned to atheism and were pioneering materialism and science as the new religion.  We have explored this turn of events in the section Science as religion, which outlines the somewhat ludicrous direction so called science took at this time.

Scientists in the USA were not, as in the UK at the time, paid for by tax payers.  Instead they were paid for by company sponsors such as the pharmaceutical industry, the CIA or the military and as such science became inordinately influenced by politics, power and money.  Overall it ceased to be science.  The results are only now starting to be revealed.

In medicine, the USA has the unenviable record that the third most frequent cause of death, and well on the way to become the most frequent cause overall, is the medical profession with its pharmaceutical symptom based approach to medicine [please follow LINK for more details].  Those who sponsored research were the pipers who played the tune, and if the pharmaceutical companies asked for a pharmaceutical to be tested and found safe, it was done. 

Even more disturbing is the role science played in what is now termed Unethical human experimentation [see LINK for more details]. 

As Wikipedia says
The experiments include: the exposure of people to chemical and biological weapons (including infection of people with deadly or debilitating diseases), human radiation experiments, injection of people with toxic and radioactive chemicals, surgical experiments, interrogation and torture experiments, tests involving mind-altering substances, and a wide variety of others. Many of these tests were performed on children, the sick, and mentally disabled individuals, often under the guise of "medical treatment". In many of the studies, a large portion of the subjects were poor, racial minorities, or prisoners.  Funding for many of the experiments was provided by the United States government, especially the United States military, the Central Intelligence Agency, and private corporations.

Cause based medicine seeks to find the ultimate cause
of an illness and tackle this, either with emotional help or
plant based remedies that do no harm.  It was dubbed 'alternative'
medicine in the USA and also largely ridiculed, as there was no
money to be made from curing anyone.  Symptom based
medicine requires the person to continually pay for
pharmaceuticals that only suppress the symptoms, thus
deluding them temporarily into thinking they are well, when in fact
the cause is still actively attacking them.

There was no money or power to be gained from religion or spiritual pursuits, both of which sought to place ethical brakes on the sort of scientific ‘research’ which either uses no data to come to its conclusions, or uses observations which are skewed to favour the outcome required, or which is simply totally unethical. 

In consequence anything even remotely ‘spiritual’, or which smacked of the supernormal was dismissed, and a concerted campaign used to discredit those attempting to study the area.  In the USA, it still is.

But quite a number of academics in the UK and Europe, along with a principled few in the USA, found the situation intolerable and unforgivable. 

Stephen Hawking, who at the time was occupant of Newton’s chair at Cambridge University, chose as a title for a lecture ‘Is the end in sight for theoretical physics?’   Professor John Wheeler, and Hasted expressed their own disquiet.  Paul Davies, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Newcastle on Tyne also expressed the dilemma facing the more open minded scientists in the following statement

There exists alongside the entropy arrow another arrow of time, equally fundamental and no less subtle in nature.  Its origin lies shrouded in mystery, but its presence is undeniable.  I refer to the fact that the universe is progressing – through the steady growth of structure, organisation and complexity – to ever more developed and elaborate states of matter and energy

In other words there is a plan, there is design and there is more to the world than random evolutionary events leading to entropy.  Halsted, Hawking, Wheeler et al also warned at the time that the theories then being developed failed to account for all the anomalous observations being recorded elsewhere in so called ‘paranormal’ experiments – but interestingly also in biology.  The work of Lyall Watson, and the findings documented in books such as Seasons of Life: The biological rhythms that enable living things to thrive and survive by Leon Kreitzman and Russell Foster, indicated that the world was not ‘physical’, it was system based, ‘informational’ if you prefer and based on, analogously, ‘programs’ that served to direct such things as homing pigeons, or telepathy, or the actions of organisms like the Portuguese man of war..

Hans Bender and Uri Geller, with Professors David Bohm, John Hasted and Ted Bastin

Hasted decided to set up a host of experiments to try to bring back into the fold of theoretical physics all the thousands upon thousands of observations rejected by the dogma of ‘Science as religion’. 

He also conducted a considerable number of experiments himself under controlled scientific conditions.  The experiments he meticulously conducted were into:

  • Metal-bending – at a distance, using touch, extensions and contractions, movement of the surface of action, directional effects, hardening, softening and magnetization effects as well as fractures and cleavages
  • Thermal , Electromagnetic, Optical and Structural phenomena
  • Apporting – which he called teleportation
  • Poltergeist experiences – including the movement of objects: psychokinesis
  • Levitation – principally Human levitation

And he found all these phenomenon existed and could be proved.  He also included study of ‘Informational psychic phenomena’, as well as the many-universes interpretation of quantum theory and its implications.

 

Despite all that you may read in the rantings of those who have a vested interest in ensuring the world stays materialistic and science as a religion is preserved, he was not naïve, nor was he in any way duped – though why children of 5 years old should want to dupe a University Professor has not been explained by those who criticise his work.

Halsted tested Stephen North, a British psychic, in the late 1970s.  It was already well established that North had the ability to bend spoons and teleport objects in and out of sealed containers; Hasted was more interested at the time in trying to work out how it was done and thus provide an underlying theoretical framework, than he was in proving it was being done.  At the time, on BBC TV, a considerable number of children were appearing on Blue Peter and similar children’s programmes having great fun bending spoons until they looked more like Salvador Dali’s spoons, [this would not have been a coincidence because Dali was interested in this area too], as such it was being regarded  as somewhat commonplace – although without explanation.

Halsted’s extraordinary results deserve to be blazoned across the sky as the work of a scientist of extraordinary calibre, and yet he is virtually unknown outside the UK.  Perhaps we can alter this appalling discrepancy.

The Metal-Benders” By John B. Hasted

My policy has been to spend as much experimental time as possible with children, at the expense of time spent with adult subjects. Although some powerful adults undoubtedly produce greater and more frequent effects than do the children, there is currently an atmosphere of dubiety that has been deliberately created around the adults and which I have tried to avoid. The historical reasons for this are obvious.…. Society’s fear of and distrust for that which is not understood has spilt over into the ranks of the scientists themselves, the majority of whom have refused to regard psychic research as important. …. I have therefore tried to develop a pool of psychic subjects from virgin territory, using immature teenagers and younger children.
These groups are quite capable of mischief, but their efforts are primitive and easily detected…... I am much more confident of being able to detect fraud when investigating children than when investigating adults. Moreover the motivations of children are as readily understood or misunderstood as those of adults: they are best understood by other members of their family, with whom a close relationship must be maintained during the period of experimentation.

Folk career and death

 

Professor Hasted was also active as a folk singer, folk club organiser, and leading light of the Second British Folk Revival.  With A.L. Lloyd, he formed the Ramblers, a folk group which was modelled on such American groups as the Almanac Singers and the Weavers.  In 1956, Hasted had realigned the Ramblers folk group, to become the John Hasted Skiffle And Folksong Group.  They performed at the Forty-four  Skiffle and Folksong Club in Piccadilly – The band lasted with several lineup changes until 1959.

  • John Hasted (guitar/banjo)
  • John Cole (harmonica)
  • Paul Fineberg (clarinet)
  • Dennis Finn (washboard)
  • Chaim Morris (double bass)
  • Judith Goldblum (vocals)
  • Redd Sullivan (vocals)
  • Shirley Collins (vocals)

 In the late 1950s came his accompaniments for Dominic Behan's Irish Songs Recalled and Shirley Collins's Sweet England, and False True Lovers. In 1958, he visited the US to meet scientists, and Woody Guthrie, which incidentally, is a most telling fact in itself.   He also had a number of records [old 78s] released.

More than anyone else he was instrumental in making famous the five-string banjo in Britain and his accompaniment of Dominic Behan's "Zoological Gardens" is great stuff.

He was married and had twin daughters and a son.  He had twin daughters from his first marriage to Elizabeth Gregson. His second wife, Lynn, died in 1988; and they had one son.   It was his second wife who persuaded him to focus on science, from 1968 until his retirement in 1984, when he was head of experimental physics at Birkbeck.

Professor John Barrett Hasted, physicist and musician, born February 17 1921; died May 4 2002, aged 81.

Birkbeck College Physics Department 1983
Back Row : Alan Appleton, Peter Trent, David Butt, John Hirsch, Malcolm Coupland, Basil Hiley, Keith Higgins
Front Row : John Jennings, John Hasted, David Bohm

 

References

It is worth adding that in the acknowledgements to his book Professor Hasted indicated that in collecting the observations, he had a team of assistants and helpers, all of whom witnessed the phenomena  - David Robertson, Nick Nicola, Sadeq Kadifachi, Ken Jacobs, Brian Warford, Tony Walker, two Bill Marshes, David Bohm, Arthur Ellison, Arthur Koestler, Brian Inglis and George Owen.

THE METAL-BENDERS” by JOHN B. HASTED
A criticism I have often heard is that ‘we all wanted the events to happen.’ This is in some degree true, and it may be that this is why they did happen. There is an unmeasured parameter in the experiments, namely the attitude of the observers. But I did not always know exactly what it was that I wanted to take place; and sometimes what did take place was different from what I expected.

an open mind is a wonderful thing ......

Observations

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