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    michael duggan said:

    It is unfair to claim that Parapsychology is not producing good data. I’m sure those who have published dream, Ganzfeld, presentiment, and micro-PK work would strongly disagree. The false dawn French alludes to in relation to Bem is a misnomer. Certainly it doesn’t look like the easily repeatable experiment that it was initially hoped for, but this was never claimed. Also, there have been successful replications since Bem (Schooler, Franklin, Bethyany). Finally, French has always claimed that no evidence of psi has been found in his lab, but there was a recent replication of Ertel’s ball drawing paradigm and a Ph.D was awarded on successful PK work. (I know this because I proof read the Ph.D thesis!). Wiseman and French are on an agenda to bring academic parapsychology down and it stinks.

    Michael Duggan Ph.D

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    Brian Josephson said:

    The real issue, Chris, is explaining why pathological disbelief is rife among scientists (the classic example of this phenomenon being the rejection by scientists of the idea that meteorites fall from the sky, despite this having been witnessed by many people). My comments on pathological disbelief are available here

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    Richard Shoup said:

    Anyone who attempts to consider together such a diverse collection of “paranormal” phenomena — life after death, near-death experiences, ghostly encounters, communication with the dead, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, miraculous healing, alien abduction, astrological prediction, and the power of crystals — is certainly not thinking very clearly about these matters, or perhaps even doing science.

    If this is “anomalistic psychology”, then it might be considered an embarrassment to the field of psychology as a whole. The position here is not at all “skeptical” as claimed, but firm disbelief — an extreme starting point suitable only for proof finding and self-confirmation, not for trying to learn something about nature. The latter is the essence of science after all, the true skeptical position.

    In fact, there is abundant evidence for some of these phenomena in carefully controlled and repeatable laboratory experiments. But to fully appreciate this, one has to carefully choose and actually read and understand the evidence, something this author has apprently not yet managed. For those of us who are serious about studying a few well-confirmed anomalous so-called “psychic” phenomena, and are developing explanations within existing physics, this article is quite disappointing to see, especially associated with a widely-read journal.

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    Alan Barlow said:

    I find this article rather unusual, ignoring certain physical phenomena. These studies, e.g. are well known – and confirm other studies, for instance by Sir William Crookes,

    Note that the light phenomena, observed in both cases by excellent and experienced scientists and investigators well over a century apart, are similiar – so repeatability and thus science.

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    Jerome Ravetz said:

    If anyone doubted that challenging ideas at any level can be vehemently rejected, there is the story of Daniel Schechtman and his pseudo-crystals. For the importance of deviant individuals for the progress of science, there is David Kaiser’s book ‘How the Hippies Saved Physics’. The social phenomenon of conformist science was satirised by Leo Szilard in his “The Mark Gable Foundation’.

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    Kenneth McRitchie said:

    Chris, Before you get too cozy with this emerging discipline, it is interesting to reflect on how modern skepticism is transforming itself to become anomalistic psychology. First we have the transformation of CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation into Claims of the Paranormal) into CSI (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry). CSI dropped the pretense of being scientific in the wake of the Dennis Rawlins “sTarbaby” exposé of the committee’s unscientific handling of the Mars effect set out by the late Michel Gauquelin. (BTW, in 1988, this effect was elevated by Suitbert Ertel through objective data ranking to the status of the Mars eminence effect). This more recent anomalistic psychology approach seems to favor skeptical rhetoric under the guise of “critical thinking” over the evaluation of evidence.

    Consider the popular claim that astrology works by cognitive bias. This is a widely held belief among intelligent people, but no one has ever demonstrated it. Although classroom Forer-type tests have been performed hundreds of times, and are widely assumed to disprove astrology, they only demonstrate the Barnum effect, and cannot legitimately claim to refute astrology. The reason is because the sample of “astrology” to be evaluated by the students is carefully cherry picked to elevate the Barnum effect. This is not a scientific test of astrology with proper samples and rating of choices. Nothing of the sort has ever been published. Yet it is always trotted out in discussions against astrology. Is an example of anomalistic psychology that you teach your students?

    It is interesting to find this “soapbox” in the online pages of Nature. Research in astrology is done by interested amateurs, funded from their own pockets, as Gauquelin had done. There has not been a mainstream scientific forum for them to exchange ideas.

    For example, In 1986 Nature published an article by Shawn Carlson entitled “A double blind test of astrology.” This article brought instant fame to its author and is still one of the most frequently cited studies to have claimed to scientifically refute astrology. Yet this article was not properly vetted by peer review because it contains design and methodological flaws that should have been caught, if perhaps they were not so well concealed. When evaluated against the actual design of the experiment (which Carlson set out but did not follow) and the normal evaluations for significance used in the social sciences, the data marginally supports the participating astrologers.

    It is frustrating to astrological researchers to see such a prestigious study as Carlson’s go unchallenged in mainstream media. For those who wish to pursue the Carlson controversy, and Chris I strongly suggest that you do, please refer to the following links for references to the original article by Carlson and the ensuing peer reviewed discourse by Ertel and myself. My article includes a discussion of follow-up studies. The Carlson study needs a replication that incorporates the many useful suggestions that have been made through the discourse of these and other authors to make a fair and scientific study.

    A double-blind test of astrology

    Appraisal of Shawn Carlson’s Renowned Astrology Tests

    Support for astrology from the Carlson double-blind experiment

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