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Tags parapsychology , pseudoscience

View Poll Results: Is parapsychology a pseudoscience?
Yes 75 78.13%
No 1 1.04%
Parapsychology contains some science but also pseudoscience 20 20.83%
Voters: 96. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 9th May 2013, 09:54 AM   #1
DoomMetal
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Is parapsychology a pseudoscience?

I have just read a volume in series of the book Understanding the World and in it is chapter on parapsychology by Mario Bunge.

Here are some of the points he makes:

Precognition violates the principle of antecedence ("causality"), according to which the effect does not happen before the cause.

Psychokinesis violates the principle of conservation of energy as well as the postulate that mind cannot act directly on matter. (If it did no experimenter could trust his own readings of his instruments.)

Parapsychology makes no use of any knowledge gained in other fields, such as physics and physiological psychology.

The hypotheses in parapsychology are inconsistent with some basic assumptions of factual science. In Particular, the very idea of a disembodied mental entity is incompatible with physiological psychology; and the claim that signals can be transmitted across space without fading with distance is inconsistent with physics. Worse, parapsychologists brush these inconsistences aside, claiming that they deal with nonphysical phenomena, so that physicists and over natural scientists are not competent to study them.

Parapsychology is extremely poor in problems: all its problems boil down to that of establishing that there are paranormal phenomena, i.e. facts that cannot be explained by science. Nor is this problem formulated in clear terms, and this because of the appalling theoretical indigence of parapsychology.

The typical parapsychologist does not excel at handling formal tools, in particular statistics. Thus he consistently selects the evidence ("optional stopping" of a sequence of trials); he does not distinguish a coincidence (accidental or spurious correlation) from a causal relation or a genuine correlation; and he is not fond of mathematical models or even or informal hypotheico-deductive systems.

An interesting conclusion by Bunge

Quote:
Parapsychologists suggest no mechanisms and propose no theories. Compare this behaviour with that of a scientist, say an astronomer. If an astronomer were to find that a certain celestial object does not seem to "obey" the laws of celestial mechanics or astrophysics, he would feel it his duty to offer or invite some possible conjectures - e.g. that it is not an ordinary body but a quasar or black hole, a plasma or laser beam, or some other physical thing. He may conjecture that this thing of a new kind "obeys" laws not yet discovered - but not that it violates well established physical principles such as that of conservation of energy. The parapsychologist does no such thing: he accepts apparently anomalous phenomena as evidence for paranormal abilities, and takes no steps to explain them in terms of laws.

Has anyone heard of the First Law of Clairvoyance, or the Second Law of Telepathy, or the Third Law of Psychokinesis? And has anyone ever produced a perpetual motion engine driven by the mind, or a mathematical theory of spooks capable of making definite testable predictions?

In conclusion parapsychology is a pseudoscience paragon.

Any thoughts? Agree or disagree with Bunge?

Do you agree or disagree that parapsychology is a pseudoscience?

I have added a poll which will close in June. Interested in reading any responses.

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Old 9th May 2013, 08:38 PM   #2
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It could be a science, if it actually provided testable, verifiable results. But, to date, the wanderings of stochastic processes don't much impress me.

What's sad is that people don't understand that if you set a 5% confidence bound, one of 20 people, on average, will reach it, and that result will be meaningless.
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Old 9th May 2013, 08:52 PM   #3
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I think the third option in your poll is misguided, or out of place. If pseudoscience is wrapping something up in the trappings of science, but not adhering to scientific method, then parapsychology is clearly pseudo scientific. But, that doesn't mean parts of it cannot contain "real science". People use "real science" in their pseudo-scientific pursuits every day.
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Old 9th May 2013, 09:00 PM   #4
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Any thoughts?? two actually come to mind

1) there is a sucker born every minute.
2) a fool and their money are soon parted.
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Old 9th May 2013, 09:12 PM   #5
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Just a personal anicdote. My older brother and I were playing Twenty Questions many years ago. In the room with us happened to be a model I made of The USS Constitution.
On my brother's turn he said "Animal, vegetable and mineral", ( meaning the crew, wood of the ship, and the cannons ). I replied immediately, "The Constitution". because I had been thinking of using the same idea as my next question.
Some sort of ESP? I think not. Just two brothers thinking along similar lines in a particular time and place. Have never had, nor witnessed, any other instance in my very long life of anything that went beyond the norm of random chance.
The brain is so easily fooled, and excells at rationalizing what it wishes to believe.
Not an expert on this by any means, but I just don't buy the paranormal.
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Old 9th May 2013, 10:50 PM   #6
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It is possible to scientifically study something that doesn't exist, and even come up with useful scientific results. One classic example is the Michelson-Morley experimentWP, which studied the Universal Aether and conclusively demonstrated that it didn't exist. However, it's hard to build a whole field onto the study of something that doesn't exist. Note, for example, the lack of degrees given in professional Aetherology.
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Old 10th May 2013, 05:43 AM   #7
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Is anyone actually still doing parapsychology research? I mean, most all the university level facilities have been shut down.... The efforts conducted by both US and Soviet intelligence agencies were shut down as failures...

There may be some researcher with a project or two in the basement... But is there any actual organized research being done?
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Old 10th May 2013, 06:33 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
Is anyone actually still doing parapsychology research? I mean, most all the university level facilities have been shut down.... The efforts conducted by both US and Soviet intelligence agencies were shut down as failures...

There may be some researcher with a project or two in the basement... But is there any actual organized research being done?
Yes, university facilities have been closing down related to parapsychology, and most no longer have much funding or publicity. It has become a dead end in most cases. There is a small research group known as the The Koestler Parapsychology Unit but they have not published anything in a long time.

The Parapsychological Association has been in trouble and have been asking for volunteers and donations the same with the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). The SPR stills publishes material but not as much as they used to.

As the other thread on this forum documents, whilst parapsychology is in the decline, anomalistic psychology is on the rise.

Quote:
Anomalistic psychology is definitely on the rise. Not only is it now offered as an option on many psychology degree programmes, it is also an option on the most popular A2 psychology syllabus in the UK. Every year more books and papers in high quality journals are published in this area and more conferences and symposia relating to topics within anomalistic psychology are held. There is no doubt that anomalistic psychology is flourishing.

And what of parapsychology? The health of this discipline is somewhat harder to assess but apart from the occasional ray of hope offered by the latest false dawn, the situation does not look encouraging for parapsychologists. Funding for such research is inevitably more difficult to obtain in times of economic uncertainty. Scarce research funding will be invested in areas where the probability of success is high – and the history of parapsychology shows all too clearly that studies in this area often involve huge investments of time and resources and produce nothing in return. Without a genuine breakthrough in the near future, can parapsychology survive for much longer? Without psychic powers, it’s difficult to know but I certainly would not bet on it.
http://blogs.nature.com/soapboxscien...parapsychology

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anomalistic_psychology

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Old 10th May 2013, 06:41 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by madurobob View Post
I think the third option in your poll is misguided, or out of place. If pseudoscience is wrapping something up in the trappings of science, but not adhering to scientific method, then parapsychology is clearly pseudo scientific. But, that doesn't mean parts of it cannot contain "real science". People use "real science" in their pseudo-scientific pursuits every day.
The third option is not misleading in my opinion. Contrary to Bunge I actually believe parapsychology is a science as it does adhere to the scientific method. But yes it has suffered from much pseudoscience jargon. I will go into more detail into this at some point.
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Old 12th May 2013, 02:52 AM   #10
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Ok look at the evidence that parapsychology itself is a science:

http://www.pnarchive.org/docs/pdf/is...ch_article.pdf

Please see the points he makes on section where he measures up to see if parapsychology is a pseudoscience.

Chris French has summarized the evidence and came to the conclusion:

Quote:
In general, parapsychology appears to meet the implicit criteria of science, to a greater or lesser extent, rather better than it meets the criteria of pseudoscience. There are a couple of the opposed criteria of pseudoscience that, arguably, parapsychology fully meets (e. g., it has no specific background or relatively confirmed theories; it has a world-view admitting elusive immaterial entities, such as disembodied minds) and some that quite clearly could not be directed at parapsychology at its best (e.g., evasion of the scrutiny afforded by peer review). With respect to the remainder of the criteria that are applicable, parapsychology fares reasonably well in terms of its scientific status, falling a little short on some of the benchmarks of good science but actually performing better than mainstream science on others.
He continues...

Quote:
Determining the scientific status of parapsychology does not require any consideration of whether or not paranormal forces actually exist. Indeed, anomalistic psychologists adopt the working hypothesis that paranormal forces do not exist and attempt to explain reports of ostensibly paranormal experiences in terms of non-paranormal, usually psychological, factors. But, like all good scientific hypothesis, this working hypothesis is open to refutation and would indeed be refuted if parapsychologists ever successfully demonstrate a reliable paranormal phenomenon under controlled conditions.
Please note what he says in the above PDF is important. He concludes that parapsychology itself is a science as it does use the scientific method but the paranormal forces (PSI) in parapsychology have not been proven. Dishonest parapsychologists and "woomeisters" will probably quote mine French and attempt to make out he has said thing things like psychokinesis and all PSI have been scientifically proven. He hasn't said that. We need to distinguish parapsychology itself from the pseudoscientific conclusions from some of the parapsychologists.


and his final conclusion:


Quote:
It may seem odd to suggest that parapsychology should still be judged to be a true science even if paranormal forces do not exist but there is little in any of the proposed sets of criteria for pseudoscience to argue against that position. Many hypothesis relating to ESP, PK, and even post mortem survival can be tested in the same way that hypothesis in other sciences are tested. But, after well over a century of systematic scientific research into these putative phenomena, reliable evidence that they actually exist still eludes us. This may reflect the fact that very few scientists have actually taken such claims seriously enough throughout this period to devote much to their investigation. Or it may simply be that each of these alleged phenomena is an illusion telling us more about our own psychology than about the fundamental nature of the universe.
As a psychologist, and proponent of anomalistic psychology French takes the latter view i.e. that psychological explains supposed "paranormal" experiences.
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Old 13th May 2013, 08:09 AM   #11
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Yes, it is entirely possible to do scientific parapsychology. I don't think anyone would argue that point. But, to a large extent, the parapsychology we encounter is pseudoscience. Predictability, falsifiability and reproducibility are ignored. Practitioners assume paranormal abilities or forces exist and try to explain things in terms of the existence of those abilities or forces.

My guess is there are not many folks doing parapsychology science because they quickly find there is nothing there to study.

Or, am I wrong? Have there been some important breakthroughs in parapsychology by scientists studying it? Have they proven the existence of something paranormal?

(note - I'm not saying that absence of results makes it pseudoscience, just that those investigating from a scientific standpoint found nothing and moved on, leaving the field to pseudo-scientists.)
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Old 13th May 2013, 08:33 AM   #12
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I think we have enough problem with trying to use and apply actual branches of psychology in a scientific manner. What I've come to notice about parapsychology (and years ago I used to think it was the 'bomb') is that the only scientific application of it is when it is strictly about turning on technical-gadget A and then turning off technical-gadget A or B. Interestingly enough, it gets less falsifiable a 'discipline' the more psychology you throw into it.
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Old 13th May 2013, 08:40 AM   #13
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Gah?! When did they include a course in parapsychology (and hypnology) at the University of Lund (for those who didn't know, it is a famous swedish institute of science)?!?

A few of the books included in the course:
Baars, Bernard (Ed.) (2001). In the Theatre of Consciousness, Oxford University Press (paperback). 210 s.
Cardeña, Etzel, Lynn, Steven Jay, & Krippner, Stanley (Eds.). (2000). Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 476 s.
Irwin, Harvey & Watt, Caroline (2007). Introduction to Parapsychology. 5th ed. North Carolina: McFarland & Company. 320 s.
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Old 13th May 2013, 05:22 PM   #14
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But don't you have to prove the paranormal phenomena exist in the first place before you worry about the mechanism behind them? Without any evidence of existence or capabilities, any talk of mechanism would be rank speculation.

Quote:
If an astronomer were to find that a certain celestial object does not seem to "obey" the laws of celestial mechanics or astrophysics, he would feel it his duty to offer or invite some possible conjectures - e.g. that it is not an ordinary body but a quasar or black hole, a plasma or laser beam, or some other physical thing.
But parapsychology hasn't even gotten that far. It hasn't reliabily demonstrated anything above chance. So there isn't anything there to "seem to not 'obey' the laws".
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Old 14th May 2013, 12:37 PM   #15
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Not having an actual demonstrable object of study certainly makes Parapsychology unique among the sciences (at the very least).

I second what Mike3 says
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Old 15th May 2013, 01:06 AM   #16
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I think that parapsychology was once a science, but after many decades of genuine scientific research, the unavoidable conclusion was that there was, after all, nothing there. Like Q-rays and aether, psi phenomena were creations of postulating the existence of something based upon data that was faulty.

Whatever 'parapsychology' that is going on now is cranks, swindlers, and the occasional naïve student who delves into the 'piles of research' and then carefully moves over to real science.

I think that there are parallels to be drawn to, say, the Bigfoot cycle. It was not all that unreasonable, in the 1960s or even 1970s, to think that the Northwest deep woods might contain a large creature that was as yet undiscovered. But after a half-century of hoaxes, dubious samples, absence of evidence, and reduction of actual scientists in the field of study, it's now a "discipline" that lacks rigor or any hard facts. Occam's Razor has shaved bigfoot into a naked lie and two pranksters with a video camera.

The more we learn about brains and how they work, the more non-psi explanations for apparent "parapsychological phenomena" we have. The more once-promising psi experiments that are attempted to be replicated, the higher the failure rate. When better experiment controls result in fewer 'results', consistently, it means that the original results were a statistical anomaly or experimenter error.

I think the amount of respect or even attention Psi et al. deserves is much less than what was reasonable back in the 70's. Like phlogiston, psi was an hypothesis that was not outside the bounds of consideration when it was invented; but it has been tested and has failed.

Just my thoughts, MK
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Old 15th May 2013, 03:57 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Jono View Post
Gah?! When did they include a course in parapsychology (and hypnology) at the University of Lund (for those who didn't know, it is a famous swedish institute of science)?!?
I voted No. Probably there are very few people interested in parapsychology reading this forum. And really few people here which are not very ignorant of parapsychology.

There are parapsychological researchers present in many universities in the world, for example in Virginia:
http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/cli...ions/cspp/dops

In Padova, Italy:
"Parapsychological research at the University of Padova began around 2000 with an informal team of researchers lead by Patrizio E. Tressoldi. Since the outset of this line of research, they have been convinced that parapsychology researches were nothing but one of the main topics of cognitive science. It is why their research projects are considered as part of cognitive psychology."
http://www.thewop.org/?p=1352

In Gothenburg, Sweden:
http://parapsykologi.se/artiklar/ganzfeld.html
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Old 15th May 2013, 04:47 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Lusikka View Post
I voted No. Probably there are very few people interested in parapsychology reading this forum. And really few people here which are not very ignorant of parapsychology.

There are parapsychological researchers present in many universities in the world, for example in Virginia:
http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/cli...ions/cspp/dops

In Padova, Italy:
"Parapsychological research at the University of Padova began around 2000 with an informal team of researchers lead by Patrizio E. Tressoldi. Since the outset of this line of research, they have been convinced that parapsychology researches were nothing but one of the main topics of cognitive science. It is why their research projects are considered as part of cognitive psychology."
http://www.thewop.org/?p=1352

In Gothenburg, Sweden:
http://parapsykologi.se/artiklar/ganzfeld.html
If you dig around you will find out quickly we are not so ignorant of parapsychology as you think. For example read the super-thread about ganzfeld, PEAR, precog, and other studies.

The plain fact ,a s somebody said, is that at the moment parapsychology has no predictive power (snark) whatsoever, and it could be held that at the moment it does not goes beyond looking at stochastic number list as someone pointed out. And for the few series where there is "something" seen above average, it is never isolated , properly studied, and used to predict anything, not even any theory to falsify.

Really at the moment parapsychology cannot be qualified as science. And if there are any course given, WHAT are they speaking inside , beside describing experiment ? Again there are no theory, no falsification, no predictive power. So what can they discuss really ?
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Old 15th May 2013, 05:02 AM   #19
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As has been stated the study of parapsychology itself is a science even if it does not produce any results. It is totally possible to use the scientific method in parapsychology and attempt to test for "paranormal forces" or test hypotheses relating to ESP etc.

As Dr. Chris French says:

Quote:
Determining the scientific status of parapsychology does not require any consideration of whether or not paranormal forces actually exist.
Quote:
Many hypothesis relating to ESP, PK, and even post mortem survival can be tested in the same way that hypothesis in other sciences are tested. But, after well over a century of systematic scientific research into these putative phenomena, reliable evidence that they actually exist still eludes us.
The problem has been, that the field of parapsychology has been swamped with pseudoscience and in recent years psychology has explained much (not all) of what was previously considered "paranormal" by the parapsychologists.

Quote:
I think that parapsychology was once a science, but after many decades of genuine scientific research, the unavoidable conclusion was that there was, after all, nothing there.
I personally wouldn't go that far, there still may be something there but I am in agreement with the critics of parapsychology about the sloppy research in parapsychology in recent years and lack of scientific controls. I have not seen any real research in parapsychology done in the last 20 years. It is mostly the same debunked studies being regurgitated by the psi believers. No new breakthroughs in parapsychology at all. The burden of proof is on the psi believers to provide the evidence but every time they fall way short.

If you visit the mind-energy forum (the only parapsychology forum on the internet) none of the users have anything new to say, all they quote is the same stuff over and over and most of it can be explained by psychology without recourse to the paranormal.

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Old 16th May 2013, 04:23 PM   #20
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Here is what the parapsychologist Eric Dingwall wrote in an essay after investigating parapsychology for over sixty years:

Quote:
After sixty years' experience and personal acquaintance with most of the leading parapsychologists of that period I do not think I could name half a dozen whom I could call objective students who honestly wished to discover the truth.
The above conclusion was from his essay The Need for Responsibility in Parapsychology: My Sixty Years in Psychical Research (1985) and was published in the book A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology (1985) by the CSICOP founder Paul Kurtz.
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Old 16th May 2013, 04:59 PM   #21
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Yes, it is possible to approach parapsychology scientifically. One can also approach Christianity scientifically. That does not make Christianity "science".
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Old 19th May 2013, 11:27 AM   #22
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Quote:
Or, am I wrong? Have there been some important breakthroughs in parapsychology by scientists studying it? Have they proven the existence of something paranormal?
The usual claim of the psi believers is that the skeptics have not read the parapsychological material proving psi. I could equally turn around and say the believers have not read the skeptical material. But to be honest the skeptical literature of psi is very slim, for every 100s of woo books there will only be a single debunking book. It amazes me how the psi believers still peddle the nonsense that their beliefs are being supressed... they have mainstream publishers and media attention and promotion all the time. I have been researching this field for a few years now and read many books and there are only a handful of skeptical books written on psi. Of course there are many books debunking general paranormal claims or spiritualism etc, but not specifically psi experiments from the parapsychologists.

The only main skeptical book of psi experiments is ESP: A Scientific Evaluation by C. E. M. Hansel published in 1966 and a revised edition in 1980, most psi believers ignored the book. Another one is Pseudoscience and the paranormal : a critical examination of the evidence published in 1988 by Terence Hines. It would be interesting if a new book was released.

anyway even if the skeptical material was available online, the believers wouldn't even read it they have no interest in any evidence contrary to their belief and just call anything and anyone who opposes them a pseudoskeptic.

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Old 19th May 2013, 11:38 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by DoomMetal View Post
The usual claim of the psi believers is that the skeptics have not read the parapsychological material proving psi. I could equally turn around and say the believers have not read the skeptical material. But to be honest the skeptical literature of psi is very slim, for every 100s of woo books there will only be a single debunking book. It amazes me how the psi believers still peddle the nonsense that their beliefs are being supressed... they have mainstream publishers and media attention and promotion all the time. I have been researching this field for a few years now and read many books and there are only a handful of skeptical books written on psi. Of course there are many books debunking general paranormal claims or spiritualism etc, but not specifically psi experiments from the parapsychologists.

The only main skeptical book of psi experiments is ESP: A Scientific Evaluation by C. E. M. Hansel published in 1966 and a revised edition in 1980, most psi believers ignored the book. Another one is Pseudoscience and the paranormal : a critical examination of the evidence published in 1988 by Terence Hines. It would be interesting if a new book was released.

anyway even if the skeptical material was available online, the believers wouldn't even read it they have no interest in any evidence contrary to their belief and just call anything and anyone who opposes them a pseudoskeptic.
See, thats a read flag to me.

When you publish a book you are going after the wallets of the credulous. When you publish research in a peer -reviewed publication you are seeking consensus among scientists with similar specialites. When there is plenty of the former and a paucity of the latter then there is a good change you're dealing in pseudoscience.
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Old 19th May 2013, 02:22 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Dr B View Post
Not having an actual demonstrable object of study certainly makes Parapsychology unique among the sciences (at the very least).

That IS what makes Parapsychology special, it's adaptation of the scientific method in the absence of an actual object of study makes it the control group for science.
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Old 19th May 2013, 05:33 PM   #25
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Since I live in Edinburgh, I volunteered out of pure curiosity to be tested for psychic ability by the Koestler Chair of Parapsychology (this is something that you can do simply by sending them a polite letter). I have been tested twice. In one test I achieved no results whatsoever, but I was told afterwards that I was a control subject and that was the expected result.

The other experiment was rather more interesting. I was supposed to use "micro-PK" to influence the random generation of pixels on a screen in such a way as to make them less random. I scored precisely zero. This confused the postgrad student who had designed the experiment, because every other subject had scored slightly above chance, thus making my result simultaneously the most and least interesting! I tried to involve him in a discussion of how these amazing abilities were supposed to work, since I had no idea which of the numerous bits of kit scattered about the room was the random number generator. He looked at me as if I was a very stupid person indeed and patiently explained that all computers have a built-in random number generator. I thought the best revenge was to quietly agree with him and walk out without attempting to explain that those built-in algorithms are not in fact random, and always give results a little above chance if you repeat them long enough.

Incidentally, does that impossible score of zero ironically make me psychic after all?

And if so, can I have a million bucks?

Please...?
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Old 20th May 2013, 09:18 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Vinegar Tom View Post
I was supposed to use "micro-PK" to influence the random generation of pixels on a screen in such a way as to make them less random. I scored precisely zero. This confused the postgrad student who had designed the experiment, because every other subject had scored slightly above chance, thus making my result simultaneously the most and least interesting! I tried to involve him in a discussion of how these amazing abilities were supposed to work, since I had no idea which of the numerous bits of kit scattered about the room was the random number generator. He looked at me as if I was a very stupid person indeed and patiently explained that all computers have a built-in random number generator. I thought the best revenge was to quietly agree with him and walk out without attempting to explain that those built-in algorithms are not in fact random, and always give results a little above chance if you repeat them long enough.
THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Why do parapsychology experiments using random number generators never seem to address this issue? How many tiny-but-significant effects are caused by just this thing?
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Old 20th May 2013, 09:45 AM   #27
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Is pseudopsychology a parascience?
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Old 23rd May 2013, 07:12 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by GhostofHume View Post
That IS what makes Parapsychology special, it's adaptation of the scientific method in the absence of an actual object of study makes it the control group for science.
No - it does not make it special at all - it makes it non-scientific.

Science has its own control groups....no need for para-woo.
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Old 23rd May 2013, 07:13 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by GhostofHume View Post
That IS what makes Parapsychology special, it's adaptation of the scientific method in the absence of an actual object of study makes it the control group for science.
You also assume that parapsych adapts the scientific method. I would say that only occurs in the minority of cases and so does not typify or represent the field on the whole.

Most of the para-woo i read is logically fallacious and yes, logic is a part of science.
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Old 24th May 2013, 03:39 PM   #30
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Quote:
When you publish a book you are going after the wallets of the credulous. When you publish research in a peer -reviewed publication you are seeking consensus among scientists with similar specialites. When there is plenty of the former and a paucity of the latter then there is a good change you're dealing in pseudoscience.
I am in agreement, but most scientists have no time to debunk paranormal claims. Remember the psi believers get mainstream media coverage and their material outweighs the sceptical material by far.

If you go to any paranormal section in a book shop critical or sceptical books are never found in that section. Most folk (the typical layman) does not have access to peer-reviewed scientific papers. In newspapers or on the TV all the time are claims or paranormal activity and they are usually presented without sceptical coverage.

If a couple of "big names" wrote some mainstream books critical of psi, they may find themselves in bookshops. That is only the way to get the word out, as there is little coverage of scepticism of psi in the media.
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Old 24th May 2013, 07:23 PM   #31
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Here is one of the few scientific papers that was written on a scientific experiment into psi:

Quote:
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used in an effort to document the existence of psi. If psi exists, it occurs in the brain, and hence, assessing the brain directly should be more sensitive than using indirect behavioral methods (as have been used previously). To increase sensitivity, this experiment was designed to produce positive results if telepathy, clairvoyance (i.e., direct sensing of remote events), or precognition (i.e., knowing future events) exist. Moreover, the study included biologically or emotionally related participants (e.g., twins) and emotional stimuli in an effort to maximize experimental conditions that are purportedly conducive to psi. In spite of these characteristics of the study, psi stimuli and non-psi stimuli evoked indistinguishable neuronal responses-although differences in stimulus arousal values of the same stimuli had the expected effects on patterns of brain activation. These findings are the strongest evidence yet obtained against the existence of paranormal mental phenomena.
Moulton, S. T., & Kosslyn, S. M. (2008). Using neuroimaging to resolve the psi debate. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20, 182-192.

http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~moulton/...maging_Psi.pdf

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Old 24th May 2013, 07:30 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Vinegar Tom View Post
... those built-in algorithms are not in fact random, and always give results a little above chance if you repeat them long enough.
I am aware that most computer algorithms are formulas and not random, but what would make them give results a little above chance if you repeat them long enough? Or are you just cherry-picking results and ignoring the ones below chance? Please explain.
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Old 29th May 2013, 12:52 PM   #33
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It is a usual claim by the psi believers who say scientists do not test their claims, but this is contradicted by Taylor and his colleagues.

See:

Taylor, J. G. & Balanovski, E. (1978). Can electromagnetism account for extra-sensory phenomena? Nature 276, 64-67.

Taylor, J. G. & Balanovski, E. (1979). Is there any scientific explanation of the paranormal? Nature 279, 631-633.

Taylor as a physicist came to the conclusion that if "psi" or "psychic" (PK) forces exist then they would have to have a physical mechanism, only four possible forces could account for psi: gravitation, the weak force, the strong force, and electromagnetism.

With the first three ruled out, the only scientifically feasible explanation for psi would be electromagnetism.

Taylor and Balanovski set up many investigations into supposed psi phenomena and using test subjects etc and used all kinds of scientific equipment to measure EM fields. But in conclusion the EM fields were too weak to explain any "paranormal" activity and nothing "paranormal" was observed.

Modern day psi believers claim quantum physics explains their psi, however, the Standard Model of physics (recently the Higgs particle was detected in proof) can predict particle values to 10 or more decimal places, so there can be no new psi forces. Everything is therefore contained within physical reality and there is no room for Psi, unless of course they invoke some non-physical dimension outside of time and space.

If psi exists in the material world like the psi believers claim it would have to have a physical basis, but as seen above there is no evidence for this. In response all psi believers can do is claim psi is totally non-physical, very few of them accept that psi is out of time and space. But If that is the case then psi is metaphysical in nature but every single modern day psi believer claims that material science has proven their "non-physical" psi

Perhaps they are not deep thinkers and do not see their own contradictions, but these contradictions go very deep.

Science is also about repeatability but psi has never been repeated, and most psi believers even claim it is not predictable yet they still claim their psi is science it gets to the point where it is downright dishonesty... why can't the psi believers accept their beliefs are metaphysical and beyond empirical science? Instead they feel the need to lie and claim their psi is scientific and call anyone who disagrees with them a "pseudoskeptic".

Psi is no different than creationism, it is a form of denialism.

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Old 29th May 2013, 12:56 PM   #34
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Basic physics leaves it not looking good for parapsychology as a field in any way. Sean Carroll points out that both human brains and the spoons they try to bend are made, like all matter, of quarks and leptons; everything else they do is emergent properties of the behaviour of quarks and leptons. And the quarks and leptons interact through the four forces: strong, weak, electromagnetic and gravitational. Thus either it's one of the four known forces or it's a new force, and any new force with range over 1 millimetre must be at most a billionth the strength of gravity or it will have been captured in experiments already done. So either it's electromagnetism, gravity or something weaker than gravity.

This leaves no force that could possibly account for telekinesis, for example. Telepathy would require a new force much weaker than gravity that is not subject to the inverse square law, and also a detector in the brain evolved to use it for signaling. Precognition, the receipt of information transmitted back in time, would violate quantum field theory.
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Parapsy...tific_problems

Not seen any response to that from the psi believers
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Old 29th May 2013, 01:19 PM   #35
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Old 30th May 2013, 08:14 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by DoomMetal View Post
Taylor as a physicist came to the conclusion that if "psi" or "psychic" (PK) forces exist then they would have to have a physical mechanism, only four possible forces could account for psi: gravitation, the weak force, the strong force, and electromagnetism.
To a little boy with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Once of the postulates to explain paranormal phenomena is that there is some new, undiscovered force at work. This is usually advanced when known ones have been exhausted.

Not that I believe it for a moment. I just wanted to clarify that your argument could be accused of having an excluded middle.
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Old 31st May 2013, 07:25 PM   #37
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Interesting discussion. Just out of curiosity, how might a scientific test of this phenomenon go? I had a friend who was an occupational therapist. One of her clients was an autistic 15-year-old boy. She mentioned to me that she would play chess with him (she doesn't play well), and while she was thinking about her move, he would interrupt her and say that's a terrible move, make the move she was thinking about and show her why. She was quite nonplussed about it. I suggested that she take a deck of cards, look at each one, and ask him what the card was. She said that he got 34 right out of the deck. I suggested that he attempt to guess the cards without her looking at them, and she told me that he only got a couple.

While these are hardly scientific evidence of mind reading, it certainly is interesting. What suggestions might you have to test something like this more scientifically?
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Old 31st May 2013, 07:39 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by BobR View Post
Interesting discussion. Just out of curiosity, how might a scientific test of this phenomenon go? I had a friend who was an occupational therapist. One of her clients was an autistic 15-year-old boy. She mentioned to me that she would play chess with him (she doesn't play well), and while she was thinking about her move, he would interrupt her and say that's a terrible move, make the move she was thinking about and show her why. She was quite nonplussed about it. I suggested that she take a deck of cards, look at each one, and ask him what the card was. She said that he got 34 right out of the deck. I suggested that he attempt to guess the cards without her looking at them, and she told me that he only got a couple.

While these are hardly scientific evidence of mind reading, it certainly is interesting. What suggestions might you have to test something like this more scientifically?
Just a thought. Perhaps he was watching her eye movements and realized what she was planing. I can comment on anything else that took place.
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Old 31st May 2013, 08:51 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
It's not a science. It's magic.
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Old 31st May 2013, 08:52 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Sherman Bay View Post
To a little boy with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Once of the postulates to explain paranormal phenomena is that there is some new, undiscovered force at work. This is usually advanced when known ones have been exhausted.

Not that I believe it for a moment. I just wanted to clarify that your argument could be accused of having an excluded middle.

It was mentionned , read again what he quoted :

Quote:
Thus either it's one of the four known forces or it's a new force, and any new force with range over 1 millimetre must be at most a billionth the strength of gravity or it will have been captured in experiments already done.
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