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Robert A. Baker

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Robert A. Baker

Robert A. Baker
Born (1921-06-27)June 27, 1921
Blackford, Kentucky, U.S.
Died August 8, 2005(2005-08-08) (aged 84)
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
Nationality American
Fields Psychology
Institutions Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory
Human Resources Research Office at Fort Knox
University of Kentucky
Alma mater University of Kentucky
Stanford University
Known for Ghost and UFO investigations. Critic of psychiatric pseudoscience and coercion.

Robert Allen Baker Jr. (June 27, 1921 – August 8, 2005) was an American psychologist, professor of psychology emeritus of the University of Kentucky,[1] skeptic, author, and investigator of ghosts, UFO abductions, lake monsters and other paranormal phenomena. He is the editor of Psychology in the Wry, a collection of satire, and was formerly the co-editor of Approaches, a quarterly journal of contemporary poetry. His satirical and humorous verses have appeared in Vogue, Saturday Review, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, Worm-Runners' Digest, and other journals.[2] He wrote 15 books[3] and is a Past Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.[4]

Personal life

Baker was born in 1921 in the little community of Blackford, in Webster County, Kentucky. His father did shoe repair and his mother was a drugstore clerk. Despite their own lack of education, his parents encouraged him to study from an early age. He attended primary school in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and graduated from Hopkinsville High School in 1939.[5] He served in the Army Air Forces as a cryptographer during World War II, and began reading about human psychology at that time.[6]

Baker died of congestive heart failure on the 52nd anniversary of his marriage to Rose Paalz "Dolly" Baker, with whom he fathered six children.[7]

Academic career

Baker graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1948 and later returned to receive a masters degree in psychology. He received a doctorate in psychology from Stanford University in 1951.[5]

After completing his PhD, he became a staff scientist at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, doing military research. In 1953 he joined the Human Resources Research Office at Fort Knox, where he did human factors research relating to the Army.

He served on the faculty of Chico State College and Indiana University Southeast and was a staff psychologist for the Kentucky Department of Corrections.[8] In 1969 he joined the faculty of the University of Kentucky in the psychology department. He was chairman of the psychology department for four years.[6] Baker spent the last 20 years of his career here, until his retirement.

He served as president of the Kentucky Psychological Association and was a fellow of the American Psychological Association.[9]

Baker was a critic of pseudoscience in the practice of psychiatry and psychotherapy, and of the coercive nature of psychiatry. He wrote on this topic and allied himself with Thomas Szasz in his criticism.[10]

Career as a skeptic

His parents instilled skepticism in him from an early age. He was interested in ghosts as a child, but was disappointed to discover upon investigation that the noises emanating from a nearby "haunted cave" were actually natural in origin.[6]

As a university psychologist, he sometimes encountered cases with a paranormal element. He would do his best to find a non-paranormal explanation or resolution for these cases, and eventually gained a reputation as a "ghost buster".[6]

When Joe Nickell was seeking an advanced degree at the University of Kentucky, the two met. They later worked together on several paranormal investigations and co-wrote a book on the topic. Nickell once said, "No one knew more about alien abductions than Robert Baker."[9]

After retiring from the university in 1989, he devoted much of his time to anomalistic psychology and scientific skepticism, writing several books on related topics including hypnosis, ghosts, alien abductions and false memory syndrome. Baker wrote that many paranormal phenomena can be explained via psychological effects such as hallucinations, sleep paralysis and hidden memories, a phenomenon in which experiences that originally make little conscious impression are filed away in the brain to be suddenly remembered later in an altered form.[11]

Readers of [13]

He was an organizer with and served as president of the Kentucky Association of Science Educators and Skeptics.[9] He wrote numerous articles and book reviews for Skeptical Inquirer magazine[14][15][16] and CSI's Skeptical Briefs newsletter.[17][18][19]

In 1999, a panel of skeptics named him among the two dozen most outstanding skeptics of the 20th Century.[20]

See also

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ Shafer, Mike; Cabin John (2001). "What is it that gives humans that feeling that someone is watching them?".  
  2. ^ http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/106429.Robert_A_Baker
  3. ^ "CSICOP Laments Passing of Two World Class Paranormal Experts Philip Klass and Robert Baker" (Press release).  
  4. ^ "CSICOP / Fellows". The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Abstracts of Dissertations for the Degrees of Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Education, Stanford University, 1951, pp. 325–327,  
  6. ^ a b c d Bernstein, Adam (12 August 2005). "Obituary: Psychology Expert Robert Baker; Unmasked Ghostly Apparitions". The Washington Post. pp. B05. Retrieved 4 December 2008. 
  7. ^ Robert Baker, psychologist was skeptical 'ghost buster'
  8. ^ "Dr Robert Allen Baker, Jr. (1921 - 2005)". Find A Grave. August 11, 2005. Retrieved 4 December 2008. 
  9. ^ a b c "Robert Baker 1921 - 2005". Kentucky Association of Science Educators and Skeptics. Retrieved 4 December 2008. 
  10. ^ Baker, Robert A. (Winter 2003), "Psychiatry’s Gentleman Abolitionist", The Independent Review VII (3): 455–460,  
  11. ^ Baker, Robert A. (1996). Hidden Memories: Voices and Visions from Within. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1573920940
  12. ^ Grey, William (Summer 1994). "For the Record".  
  13. ^ Hines, Terence (July–August 1995). "A Failed Look At Memory and Perceptions".  
  14. ^ Baker, Robert A. (Fall 1986), "How To Bust a Ghost", Skeptical Inquirer (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 11 (1): 84–90,  
  15. ^ Baker, Robert A. (Winter 1987–1988), "The Aliens Among Us: Hypnotic Regression Revisited", Skeptical Inquirer (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 12 (2): 147–162,  
  16. ^ Baker, Robert A. (March–April 2000), "Can We Tell When Someone Is Staring at Us?", Skeptical Inquirer (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 24 (2): ?,  
  17. ^ Baker, Robert A. (June 1995), """Have You Seen "The Light?, Skeptical Briefs (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 5 (2): ?,  
  18. ^ Baker, Robert A. (September 1997), "A Skeptic's Notebook: Prayer Wars", Skeptical Briefs (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 7 (3): ?,  
  19. ^ Baker, Robert A. (June 2000), "The Case of the Missing Poltergeist", Skeptical Briefs (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 10 (2): ?,  
  20. ^ Nisbet, Matt (14 December 1999). "Skeptical Inquirer Magazine Names the Ten Outstanding Skeptics of the Century" (Press release).  

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