25.04.2019

Common criticisms about parapsychology

Constructive criticism is essential in science and is welcomed by the majority of active psi researchers. Strong skepticism is expected, and many parapsychologists are far more skeptical about psi than most scientists realize.

However, it is not generally appreciated that some of the more vocal criticisms about psi are actually “pseudo-criticisms.” That is, the more barbed, belligerent criticisms occasionally asserted by some skeptics are often issued from such strongly held, prejudicial positions that the criticisms are not offered as constructive suggestions, but as authoritarian proofs of the impossibility of psi.

It is commonly supposed by non-scientists that skeptical debates over the merits of psi research follow the standards of scholarly discussions. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Disparaging rhetoric and ad hominem attacks arise too often in debates about psi. The social science of parapsychology, and the way that science treats anomalies in general, is a fascinating topic that starkly illuminates the very human side of how science really works.

Criticism 1: Apparently successful experimental results are actually due to sloppy procedures, poorly trained researchers, methodological flaws, selective reporting, and statistics problems. There is therefore not a shred of scientific evidence for psi phenomena.

Response: These issues have been addressed in detail by meta-analytic reviews of the experimental literature . The results unambiguously demonstrate that successful experiments cannot be explained away by these criticisms. In fact, research by Harvard University specialists in scientific methods showed that the best experimental psi research today is not only conducted according to proper scientific standards, but usually adheres to more rigorous protocols than are found in contemporary research in both the social and physical sciences. In addition, over the years there have been a number of very effective rebuttals of criticisms of individual studies, and within the past decade, experimental procedures have been developed that address virtually all methodological criticisms, even the possibility of fraud and collusion, by including skeptics in the experimental procedures.

Criticism 2: Psi phenomena violate basic limiting principles of science, and are therefore impossible.

Response: Twenty years ago, this criticism was a fairly common retort to claims of psi phenomena. Today, with advancements in many scientific disciplines, the scientific worldview is rapidly changing, and the basic limiting principles are constantly being redefined. In addition, the substantial empirical database in parapsychology now presents anomalies that simply won’t “go away,” thus this criticism is no longer persuasive and is slowly disappearing. Given the rate of change in science today, assigning psi to the realm of the impossible now seems imprudent at best, foolish at worst.

Criticism 3: Parapsychology does not have a “repeatable” experiment.

Response: When many people talk about a repeatable psi experiment, they usually have in mind an experiment like those conducted in elementary physics classes to demonstrate the acceleration of gravity, or simple chemical reactions. In such experiments, where there are relatively few, well-known and well-controllable variables, the experiments can be performed by practically anyone, anytime, and they will work. But insisting on this level of repeatability is inappropriate for parapsychology, or for that matter, for most social or behavioral science experiments. Psi experiments usually involve many variables, some of which are poorly understood and difficult or impossible to directly control. Under these circumstances, scientists use statistical arguments to demonstrate “repeatability” instead of the common, but restrictive view that “If it’s real, I should be able to do it whenever I want.”

Under the assumption that there is no such thing as psi, we would expect that about 5% of well-conducted psi experiments would be declared “successful” (i.e., statistically significant) by pure chance. But suppose that in a series of 100 actual psi experiments we consistently observed that 20 were successful. This is extremely unlikely to occur by chance, suggesting that psi was present in some of those studies. However, it also means that in any particular experiment, there is an 80% probability of “failure.” Thus, if a critic set out to repeat a psi experiment to see if the phenomenon was “real,” and the experiment failed, it would obviously be incorrect to claim on the basis of that single experiment that psi is not real because it is not repeatable.

A widely accepted method of assessing repeatability in experiments is called meta-analysis. This quantitative technique is heavily used in the social, behavioral and medical sciences to integrate research results of numerous independent experiments. Starting around 1985, meta-analyses have been conducted on numerous types of psi experiments. In many of these analyses, results indicate that the outcomes were not due to chance, or methodological flaws, or selective reporting practices, or any other plausible “normal” explanations. What remains is psi, and in several experimental realms, it has clearly been replicated by independent investigators.

© The Parapsychological Association. All rights reserved. Original: http://parapsych.org/section/36/frequently_asked_questions.aspx

Featured articles

Links:ブランドコピー高い品質など世界中有名なブランドレプリカを格安で通販しております。N級品ブランドコピーは 業界で最高な品質に挑戦します!激安 ルイヴィトンバッグレプリカ,ルイヴィトンバッグ ブランドコピー激安財布バッグ、ブランドコピー通販 スーパーコピー激安 財布, ブランドコピー激安代引き楽天市場。