Talks

Upcoming and past talks.  Dr. Laursen is available to give talks, presentations, and seminars on his research projects and studies. Please contact him if you are interested.

Most Recent Talk

No upcoming talks scheduled yet. But a new four-week online course, Premonitions, begins on Tuesday, May 17. For more information, go to Teaching.

My most recent talk was “Stopping Clocks: Precognition, Time, and Trauma around the 1966 Aberfan Disaster.”

On the morning of October 21st, 1966, around 100,000 tons of coal waste slid a third of a mile down a Welsh hillside. It engulfed a village school and 16 houses. In this, 144 people lost their lives, 116 of them children, mostly aged 7 to 11. The impact of the flowslide stopped a clock at 9:13 a.m.

Responding to the scene in Aberfan, an English psychiatrist, John Barker, heard local people tell of dreams and omens of the disaster before it happened. Wondering if others had foreseen the tragedy, Barker worked with the London Evening Standard science correspondent Peter Fairley to seek premonitions from people across the United Kingdom. That, along with a parallel call by the Oxford Institute for Psychophysical Research, garnered a collection of 150 precognitive dreams, visions, and uncanny feelings.

Speculation arose: what if a mass collection of potentially precognitive experiences could provide an early warning system that could prevent such tragedies? Could this defy time to save lives? Various organized attempts have been made to explore this possibility, including Barker and Fairley’s own Premonitions Bureau.

The social and cultural historian Christopher Laursen enhances the context to recent publications exploring premonitions around the Aberfan tragedy, including the writer Sam Knight’s new book The Premonitions Bureau and Alan Murdie’s study of the Oxford Institute for Psychophysical Research collection.

Often the premonitions are left out of the greater history of the Aberfan disaster. Likewise, narratives on the premonitions neglect the life-altering scope of the disaster. The two become separate stories. What can we learn when we consider them together? Could a unified narrative help clarify the nature of precognition, time, and trauma?

Click here for resources accompanying the talk.

_ _ _

Thursday, May 5
Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena
7 pm UK time
Free to members | £5 for annual digital membership
_ _ _

Friday, May 6
The Rhine
4 pm Pacific | 7 pm Eastern
Online donation-based event

Past Talks