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Tags Caroline Watts , psychokinesis , telekinesis

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Old 30th January 2017, 11:37 PM   #1
BillSkeptic
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Exclamation Most parapsychologists do not now believe in psychokinesis

I have just been reading Caroline Watt's new textbook "Parapsychology: A Beginner's Guide" (2016).

She has an interesting chapter in which she admits:

Quote:
"Most parapsychologists do not believe that there exists a strong body of evidence supporting the existence of macro-PK. However, investigations into such claims have yielded a considerable insight into the psychology used to fool observers into thinking that they have witnessed genuine psychic ability."
(page 31)

Quote:
"Overall, the majority of academic parapsychologists do not find the evidence compelling in favour of macro-PK. However, as a result of this work, we now have a much greater understanding of the psychological strategies employed by fake psychics to fool people, including how they manipulate attention, perception, and memory."
(page 37)

Watt's statements are important because she is seen as a main figure in the modern parapsychology community.

Skeptics have argued for years that there is no solid evidence for psychokinesis. Are parapsychologists starting to wake up to this fact?
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Old 30th January 2017, 11:46 PM   #2
marplots
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I read it as a way to hold onto a belief rather than a move toward abandoning it.

It reminds me of how Christians created new categories, "micro" and "macro" for evolution so they wouldn't have to give up their creationist ideas. "Macro-PK" isn't a useful category if you are rejecting PK - which skeptics pretty much do.
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Old 31st January 2017, 12:48 AM   #3
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There was a period during the early-mid 20th century when many table-tipping parapsychologists essentially switched from believing in poltergeists to believing in telekinesis. Ironically, the ideomotor phenomenon had been thoroughly explained and demonstrated by skeptics about a hundred years earlier.
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Old 31st January 2017, 06:33 AM   #4
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I didn't even know that there WAS a current parapsychology scene. All the university-level research departments seem to have gone defunct.
I recall when the university I work at was caught out by one of Randi's little schemes.... Sending in a ringer "test subject" who succeeded in fooling the researchers quite easily.

The sponsors promptly dropped funding for the "chair".
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Old 31st January 2017, 06:34 AM   #5
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This is why I often say that those who proclaim that some extremely small scale event happens is proof of psi is not what psi is meant to be. It is meant to have human scale macro effects, that is why scientists were initially interested. Current research always seems to be looking for an effect so much smaller it has no resemblance to the initial reason for looking for psi.
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Old 31st January 2017, 07:53 AM   #6
Bladesman87
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I usually find lines like this are to disarm people. Reject one thing to give the impression that you're just as sceptical as the rest of the world and that you don't buy into any old silly thing.
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Old 31st January 2017, 07:55 AM   #7
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I can't say that I care much about what a bunch of woo-woo believe.
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Old 31st January 2017, 08:17 AM   #8
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What I find amazing is that there is still such a thing as a parapsychologist.

Heck! If one wants to make a lot of money by doing crap, then get into religion the way that L. Ron Hubbard did, or that Peter Popoff has done, or that Jim Bakker did, and so on.
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Old 31st January 2017, 09:25 AM   #9
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It is my understanding that the only Psi experimental results that have much credence are the ganzfeld experiments and even they have their dubious aspects.

The result is that after well over a century of study and experiment all that parapsychological research has been well pathetic.

But we have learned about some truly fascinating catch 22s.

The number one catch 22 is - The presence of doubter - Sceptics - inhibits destroys psychic powers and that explains negative results when sceptics and magicians are present at experiments. This is because the Sceptic gives off negative vibes that destroy psychic powers. Of course this means that so long has there is a single Sceptic anywhere negative results can be explained away.

Number two. a "complicated" "careful" experiment destroys psychic powers because it upsets the psychic and inhibits psychic powers. A loose experiment with plenty of opportunities to cheat is ideal for psychic powers because it frees the psychic from the negative stress of dealing with a controlled careful experiment. The fact it is so much easier to cheat with a loose experimental design when those positive results happen is of course just a coincidence. (Whatever)

Number three Sceptics reading about psychic experiments and finding flaws in them have exercised backward causality on the experiments causing them to have flaws. Thus the negativity of Sceptics affecting experiments even applies to them reading about the experiments later.

Number four When testing the psychic one must allow him / her to more or less run the experiment because not to do so will upset the psychic and inhibit / destroy his / her psychic powers. The fact that this makes it so much easier for the psychic to cheat is irrelevant. (Whatever)

Number five If a psychic is caught cheating that only proves that they cheated that one time. It is absolutely irrelevant to showing / indicating that they could have cheated at other times they were not caught. Thus a psychic may cheat sometimes to not disappoint people but that has no bearing on whether or not he / she cheats at other times.

Number six A stage Magician may make a elephant disappear on stage and that is a trick but no trick could possibly explain moving a pill bottle a few inches across a table. Thus a stage Magician can perform the most incredible, convoluted stage tricks but incredibly simple tricks can't be performed by so-called psychics.

Number seven Learning about magic especially close up magic is a waste of time for a psychic researcher who is far too intelligent to be fooled by simple tricks. (Whatever)

Number Eight Only positive, (Pro-Psi results), are worth publishing. Negative results should be destroyed or filed away.
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Old 31st January 2017, 10:16 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
Number three Sceptics reading about psychic experiments and finding flaws in them have exercised backward causality on the experiments causing them to have flaws. Thus the negativity of Sceptics affecting experiments even applies to them reading about the experiments later.
I once read an advocate of psychic powers arguing that the results of psychic experiments should never be published for fear that skeptics in the future read about it and retroactively use their negative psychic powers to make the test fail in the past.
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Old 31st January 2017, 10:37 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by JesseCuster View Post
I once read an advocate of psychic powers arguing that the results of psychic experiments should never be published for fear that skeptics in the future read about it and retroactively use their negative psychic powers to make the test fail in the past.
I like it. Should be known as Roko's Skeptical Basilisk.

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Old 31st January 2017, 12:17 PM   #12
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"Their woo is crazy. My woo is real!"
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Old 3rd February 2017, 03:25 AM   #13
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It's interesting what a reverse progression psi research has had. From ghosts to psychic powers, and weaker and weaker psychic powers at that. Quite the opposite from what "real" science does.
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Old 5th February 2017, 06:28 PM   #14
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I am very happy to hear/read that!!! (the op)
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Old 5th February 2017, 07:39 PM   #15
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I am not sure why they ever did though???!!!!!
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Old 9th February 2017, 03:07 AM   #16
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Back in 2004 I was at the World Skeptic Congress where Caroline Watt gave a talk about much the same theme: Many parapsychologists had given up the belief in woo, but were instead trying to understand what caused people's belief in woo. She gave examples of irrational beliefs and how she and her co-workers interviewed believers and tried to understand the reason for their beliefs. There was no mention specifically of PK. However, I also remember that she stated that a lot of skeptic criticism had been unconstructive and unhelpful.

Based on that talk, I doubt that Caroline Watt is herself a believer in the irrational, even if she might not be a full-fledged skeptic, but I can imagine that in her book she is describing what other parapsychologists think when she is describing the state of modern parapsychology.
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Old 9th February 2017, 10:25 AM   #17
Bladesman87
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuVh36vQkSI

So, returning to this thread, this is what I hear when I hear parapsychologists and the like tell me "of course we don't believe in that".
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Old 25th February 2017, 06:46 AM   #18
BillSkeptic
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
Back in 2004 I was at the World Skeptic Congress where Caroline Watt gave a talk about much the same theme: Many parapsychologists had given up the belief in woo, but were instead trying to understand what caused people's belief in woo. She gave examples of irrational beliefs and how she and her co-workers interviewed believers and tried to understand the reason for their beliefs. There was no mention specifically of PK. However, I also remember that she stated that a lot of skeptic criticism had been unconstructive and unhelpful.

Based on that talk, I doubt that Caroline Watt is herself a believer in the irrational, even if she might not be a full-fledged skeptic, but I can imagine that in her book she is describing what other parapsychologists think when she is describing the state of modern parapsychology.
Caroline Watt is personally involved with Richard Wiseman, I am not sure how long they have been partners.

She seems to have been influenced by Wiseman in some aspects. In one interview she seemed to be defending the role of anomalistic psychology that all reported paranormal phenomena have natural explanations from psychological factors.

She is still associated with the Society for Psychical Research though and she makes credulous mistakes like paranormal believers in her books at times. She said in her recent introduction book on parapsychology that Daniel Dunglas Home was a genuine medium and that no magician had ever replicated his feats. We all know that is not true. Many magicians have commented on Home's sťance room trickery.

I would say she was still a believer in the paranormal but she is slowly turning more and more skeptical.
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Old 26th February 2017, 07:10 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by BillSkeptic View Post
Caroline Watt is personally involved with Richard Wiseman, I am not sure how long they have been partners.

She seems to have been influenced by Wiseman in some aspects. In one interview she seemed to be defending the role of anomalistic psychology that all reported paranormal phenomena have natural explanations from psychological factors.

She is still associated with the Society for Psychical Research though and she makes credulous mistakes like paranormal believers in her books at times. She said in her recent introduction book on parapsychology that Daniel Dunglas Home was a genuine medium and that no magician had ever replicated his feats. We all know that is not true. Many magicians have commented on Home's sťance room trickery.

I would say she was still a believer in the paranormal but she is slowly turning more and more skeptical.
Of course Ms. Watt is taking refuge in the past because it helps to shield her remaining illusions about Psychic phenomena from disproof. Thus the feats of D. D. Home who has been safely dead for more than a century and Ms. Watt can claim has reliable all the credulous reports of true believers about Home's psychic feats has reliable and carefully ignore the mountains of evidence indicating that people, especially believers misremember alleged psychic feats all the time. for example claiming that spoon benders never touched the spoon when they in fact did.

Thus in example after example the reporters of D. D. Home's feats don't mention that D. D. Home performed his psychic feats in near total darkness. And of course Ms. Watt probably doesn't mention that D. D. Home also performed the standard psychic charlatan routine of 19th century faker sťances with glowing hands and other signs of sheer fakery.

And of course D. D. Home also engaged in acts of deception for gain, including a rather grotesque attempt to use his psychic abilities to get a rich woman to make him rich that ended up in court.

The fact that Ms. Watt still thinks D. D. Home was for real is sad but then Ms. Watt can preserve her illusions because D. D. Home is safely dead and beyond testing of any kind.
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