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"Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

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"Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby quantumparanormal » 08 Sep 2009, 08:38

Myth: Parapsychology is a pseudoscience. It claims to be like other scientific disciplines, but it has no core knowledge base, no set of constructs, no set of standard methodologies, and no set of accepted or demonstrable phenomena that all psi researchers would accept.

Fact: In 1969, parapsychology was accepted as an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest scientific organization in the world and the publisher of Science, one of the top-ranked scientific journals. By inclusion in the AAAS, the Parapsychological Association is demonstrably a bona fide scientific discipline. By comparison, not one of the "professional" skeptical organizations, some of which even claim to be engaged in scientific investigation, is an affiliate of the AAAS. Assertions about the lack of core knowledge, constructs, and so on imply that to be scientific, members of a discipline must all agree upon a set of uniform beliefs. That's a quaint view of how science works. Pick up practically any scientific or scholarly journal and you'll quickly find that the researchers are always engaged in vigorous debates and controversies. The moment a discipline collapses into a single set of beliefs, constructs, or even methods, it's no longer science, it's religion. As for "standard methods," many of them are described in this book. (Radin, Dean. Entangled Minds. New York, NY: Pocket Books, 2006. p. 283)
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby ProfWag » 09 Sep 2009, 04:30

I hope this doesn't come across too rude, as I think deep down you're a rather intelligent person. However, as much as you refer to Dean Radin, one would be led to believe that he is the be all/end-all of scientists. You either are him in disguise or you have your nose up his ass so far you both breath out of the same nostrils. Sorry, just an observation. Nothing reported as absolute "fact" in this e-mail... ;-)
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby quantumparanormal » 09 Sep 2009, 04:36

ProfWag wrote:I hope this doesn't come across too rude, as I think deep down you're a rather intelligent person. However, as much as you refer to Dean Radin, one would be led to believe that he is the be all/end-all of scientists. You either are him in disguise or you have your nose up his ass so far you both breath out of the same nostrils. Sorry, just an observation. Nothing reported as absolute "fact" in this e-mail... ;-)


:lol: Ahh.... someone needs a hug. :mrgreen:
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby ProfWag » 09 Sep 2009, 04:45

quantumparanormal wrote:Myth: Parapsychology is a pseudoscience. It claims to be like other scientific disciplines, but it has no core knowledge base, no set of constructs, no set of standard methodologies, and no set of accepted or demonstrable phenomena that all psi researchers would accept.

Fact: In 1969, parapsychology was accepted as an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest scientific organization in the world and the publisher of Science, one of the top-ranked scientific journals. By inclusion in the AAAS, the Parapsychological Association is demonstrably a bona fide scientific discipline. By comparison, not one of the "professional" skeptical organizations, some of which even claim to be engaged in scientific investigation, is an affiliate of the AAAS. Assertions about the lack of core knowledge, constructs, and so on imply that to be scientific, members of a discipline must all agree upon a set of uniform beliefs. That's a quaint view of how science works. Pick up practically any scientific or scholarly journal and you'll quickly find that the researchers are always engaged in vigorous debates and controversies. The moment a discipline collapses into a single set of beliefs, constructs, or even methods, it's no longer science, it's religion. As for "standard methods," many of them are described in this book. (Radin, Dean. Entangled Minds. New York, NY: Pocket Books, 2006. p. 283)

Don't forget to include in this that Margaret Mead was the President of the AAAS in 1969. She was an anthropologist by trade, and a good one it appears, and she was also one of the founding members of the Parapsychological Association 'cause she was a big believer in ESP. As Paul Harvey used to say, "And now you know the rest of the story."
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby quantumparanormal » 09 Sep 2009, 05:06

ProfWag wrote:Don't forget to include in this that Margaret Mead was the President of the AAAS in 1969. She was an anthropologist by trade, and a good one it appears, and she was also one of the founding members of the Parapsychological Association 'cause she was a big believer in ESP. As Paul Harvey used to say, "And now you know the rest of the story."


You are, once again, incorrect.

Margaret Mead hasn't been president of the AAAS since 1975. She then became chair of the executive committee of the board of directors in 1976. The president of the AAAS in 1969 was Hiram Bentley Glass, someone who was not a believer in ESP (from what I could find from the various web sources/literature). In 1968, Walter Orr Roberts was the president, also a non-believer in ESP (from what I could find from the various web sources/literature).

Yet given these facts, the PA is still a member of the AAAS. Go figure.
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby ProfWag » 09 Sep 2009, 05:15

quantumparanormal wrote:
ProfWag wrote:Don't forget to include in this that Margaret Mead was the President of the AAAS in 1969. She was an anthropologist by trade, and a good one it appears, and she was also one of the founding members of the Parapsychological Association 'cause she was a big believer in ESP. As Paul Harvey used to say, "And now you know the rest of the story."


You are, once again, incorrect.

Margaret Mead hasn't been president of the AAAS since 1975. She then became chair of the executive committee of the board of directors in 1976. The president of the AAAS in 1969 was Hiram Bentley Glass, someone who was not a believer in ESP (from what I could find from the various web sources/literature).

Yet given these facts, the PA is still a member of the AAAS. Go figure.

Yep, she wasn't Pres then. My bad. Here was my source though it may have been written incorrectly.
"To many, parapsychology qualifies as a legitimate science. After all, the Parapsychological Association has been accepted as an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (something which happened in 1969 through the efforts of AAAS president Margaret Meade, a big believer in psychic powers). There are also several professional bodies of parapsychologists that ostensibly serve to monitor research and ensure that high standards are met. "
atheism.about.com/od/parapsychology/a/research.htm
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby quantumparanormal » 09 Sep 2009, 05:43

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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby really? » 27 Mar 2010, 19:48

ProfWag wrote:
quantumparanormal wrote:
ProfWag wrote:Don't forget to include in this that Margaret Mead was the President of the AAAS in 1969. She was an anthropologist by trade, and a good one it appears, and she was also one of the founding members of the Parapsychological Association 'cause she was a big believer in ESP. As Paul Harvey used to say, "And now you know the rest of the story."


You are, once again, incorrect.

Margaret Mead hasn't been president of the AAAS since 1975. She then became chair of the executive committee of the board of directors in 1976. The president of the AAAS in 1969 was Hiram Bentley Glass, someone who was not a believer in ESP (from what I could find from the various web sources/literature).

Yet given these facts, the PA is still a member of the AAAS. Go figure.

Yep, she wasn't Pres then. My bad. Here was my source though it may have been written incorrectly.
"To many, parapsychology qualifies as a legitimate science. After all, the Parapsychological Association has been accepted as an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (something which happened in 1969 through the efforts of AAAS president Margaret Meade, a big believer in psychic powers). There are also several professional bodies of parapsychologists that ostensibly serve to monitor research and ensure that high standards are met. "
atheism.about.com/od/parapsychology/a/research.htm


First off I pretty much agree with what you have to say except in this case. Regarding this affiliation between AAAS and the PA is entirely based on the philosophy of the AAAS which welcomes and encompasses scientific inquiry into all areas of human interest. It is not an endorsement or acknowledgement as a true science by the AAAS. Below is one of the most recent articles on parapsychology.

ESP Road Test [Richard Wiseman}

Science 2 April 1999 284: 39 [DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5411.39b] (in Random Samples)

......influencing the computer) or to precognition (the mind anticipating the computer). "This is always a problem with this type of parapsychology," he says. "However, I would be happy enough to demonstrate any effect at all."...

Summary »
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby NinjaPuppy » 28 Mar 2010, 07:54

Hey there QP. Good to see you.
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby NucleicAcid » 28 Mar 2010, 13:49

Parapsychology is a true science and not a pseudoscience as a fact because it uses the scientific method in the exact same fashion as any other 'conventional science.' Parapsychology is, by definition of the word, a science.

While directly testing the existence psi has had some rough spots over the years, it is by and large, if you look at the whole picture, rather repeatable. It could be more solid, but it's far from flimsy. However, we are always getting closer to certain predictor variables and correlates of psi. These correlations, such as sheep-goat effects and the better performance of meditators vs non-meditators, are becoming increasingly replicable, meaning we are getting closer to really understanding how psi works and how to harness it. Which is really the most important thing.
Hey, you there. Yes, you. Read more journal articles.

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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby ProfWag » 28 Mar 2010, 17:58

NucleicAcid wrote:
While directly testing the existence psi has had some rough spots over the years, it is by and large, if you look at the whole picture, rather repeatable.

Wow, this is news to me. I wasn't aware of a psi test that has been successfully repeated.
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby really? » 28 Mar 2010, 20:35

NucleicAcid wrote:Parapsychology is a true science and not a pseudoscience as a fact because it uses the scientific method in the exact same fashion as any other 'conventional science.' Parapsychology is, by definition of the word, a science.

While directly testing the existence psi has had some rough spots over the years, it is by and large, if you look at the whole picture, rather repeatable. It could be more solid, but it's far from flimsy. However, we are always getting closer to certain predictor variables and correlates of psi. These correlations, such as sheep-goat effects and the better performance of meditators vs non-meditators, are becoming increasingly replicable, meaning we are getting closer to really understanding how psi works and how to harness it. Which is really the most important thing.


Not true at all. The only thing that's been found out so far is as the controls are tightened psi disappears.
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby Nostradamus » 28 Mar 2010, 20:49

That's my understanding as well. The sheep-goat effect was suggested to explain why tightening controls leads to a loss of evidence for psi.

As NucleicAcid points out there is a difference between the method of collecting data and the results. The experiments end up accepting the null hypothesis, which is that there is no evidence for anything happening that cannot be explained by chance.
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby NucleicAcid » 29 Mar 2010, 01:02

really? wrote:
Not true at all. The only thing that's been found out so far is as the controls are tightened psi disappears.


Incorrect. There is very little correlation between degree of control and effect size. One of my colleagues is running a transform on the Ganzfeld data that actually shows a small decrease in effect size during the mid-80's when everybody started publishing many different types of Ganzfeld experiments, but rose as the computerized Autoganzfeld, the most tightly controlled of the Ganzfeld series, was introduced.

Image (Bierman 2000)

I recommend Bem Palmer Broughton 2001, "Updating the Ganzfeld Database." Journal of Parapsychology.

What you are confusing is that when people started doing all sorts of variations with the Ganzfeld, e.g. using audio targets, different sending methods, different send/receive environmental conditions, a lot of those had null results. Dean Radin I believe ran a regression on effect size as a function of adherence to the original Ganzfeld methodology, and it came out quite significant.

Here are some excerpts of graphs from Dean Radin's The Conscious Universe:

http://amnap.blogspot.com/2007/05/scien ... omena.html

They show the results graphically of thousands of psi experiments conducted over a half century.

Skeptic Report publish an analysis by skeptic Andrew Endersby. In that analysis, he found an approximately 28% overall hit rate:

At the end of my research I find a hit rate of between 28.6% and 28.9% depending on certain choices concerning which scoring methods to use on particular experiments. This doesn’t have quite the headline grabbing appeal of 1 in 3 instead of 1 in 4 but the hit rate is still highly significant for 6,700 sessions. However, this contains all experiments. Flawed or not, standard or not. There’s no doubt that this figure can be tweaked up or down according to ruling in or out certain experiments.


28.75% where MCE (mean chance average) is 25 doesn't seem like much, but over 6700 trials it ends up being more than 7 standard deviations from the mean, corresponding to a p value of less than approximately 1 in a million. Experiments are considered 'repeatable' in 'normal science' if they have a p value of less than 0.05 or 0.01 over a few hundred trials.

The major issue with replication is not whether psi effects can be repeatably generated in the lab (clearly they can), it's that there are very many confounding variables that determine success (sheep-goat is only one of them, which, Nostradamus, actually has nothing to do with tightness of controls, but belief of the participants), including many that we do not know or understand at this point. Therefore, when a psi experiment is exported to a different lab, those scientists may think they're doing it all the same, but they've missed one crucial detail. This is not unique to parapsychology in the least. Happens in physics, psychology, biology, every science, really. This happens to me ALL the time in chemistry. I've had reactions that I've ran exactly the same work wonderfully on a sunny day, but fail on a rainy day. Does that mean that the Grignard reaction doesn't exist? Of course not, that's absurd, the Grignard process was one of the most important discoveries in organic chemistry at its time. But if you read about it in a paper when it first came out, and you tried it yourself, but your glassware was a teency bit wet (I'm talking a thin film of water, or a humid room), you'd get zilch, and you wouldn't know why until you did it a bunch more times and figured out, "Oh, this reaction is highly sensitive to water."

Is psychic functioning the thing we test for, and have formed a positive hypothesis about, and have found experimental evidence for support for? You betcha. Could other things be causing the effect? Possibly, but the way science works, since those are not part of our hypothesis, we would have to test for those to confirm those as the source of the effect. Is there still some question as to what is causing the effect in psi experiments? Absolutely, that's why this argument rages on. But does that mean it's not replicable, or results go away when we tighten controls, or it's a pseudoscience? Absolutely not.
Hey, you there. Yes, you. Read more journal articles.

If what I say sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown (Wah wahh woohh wuh waah), then you should try college. It's fun, and only costs you your soul and several tens of thousands of dollars. :)

“I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven“ - Richard Wiseman

Let's make directional hypotheses, test them repeatedly, replicate experiments, and publish results! Yay, science!
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Re: "Parapsychology is a pseudoscience"

Postby really? » 29 Mar 2010, 06:11

NucleicAcid wrote:
really? wrote:
Not true at all. The only thing that's been found out so far is as the controls are tightened psi disappears.


Incorrect. There is very little correlation between degree of control and effect size. One of my colleagues is running a transform on the Ganzfeld data that actually shows a small decrease in effect size during the mid-80's when everybody started publishing many different types of Ganzfeld experiments, but rose as the computerized Autoganzfeld, the most tightly controlled of the Ganzfeld series, was introduced.

Image (Bierman 2000)

I recommend Bem Palmer Broughton 2001, "Updating the Ganzfeld Database." Journal of Parapsychology.

What you are confusing is that when people started doing all sorts of variations with the Ganzfeld, e.g. using audio targets, different sending methods, different send/receive environmental conditions, a lot of those had null results. Dean Radin I believe ran a regression on effect size as a function of adherence to the original Ganzfeld methodology, and it came out quite significant.

Here are some excerpts of graphs from Dean Radin's The Conscious Universe:

http://amnap.blogspot.com/2007/05/scien ... omena.html

They show the results graphically of thousands of psi experiments conducted over a half century.

Skeptic Report publish an analysis by skeptic Andrew Endersby. In that analysis, he found an approximately 28% overall hit rate:

At the end of my research I find a hit rate of between 28.6% and 28.9% depending on certain choices concerning which scoring methods to use on particular experiments. This doesn’t have quite the headline grabbing appeal of 1 in 3 instead of 1 in 4 but the hit rate is still highly significant for 6,700 sessions. However, this contains all experiments. Flawed or not, standard or not. There’s no doubt that this figure can be tweaked up or down according to ruling in or out certain experiments.


28.75% where MCE (mean chance average) is 25 doesn't seem like much, but over 6700 trials it ends up being more than 7 standard deviations from the mean, corresponding to a p value of less than approximately 1 in a million. Experiments are considered 'repeatable' in 'normal science' if they have a p value of less than 0.05 or 0.01 over a few hundred trials.

The major issue with replication is not whether psi effects can be repeatably generated in the lab (clearly they can), it's that there are very many confounding variables that determine success (sheep-goat is only one of them, which, Nostradamus, actually has nothing to do with tightness of controls, but belief of the participants), including many that we do not know or understand at this point. Therefore, when a psi experiment is exported to a different lab, those scientists may think they're doing it all the same, but they've missed one crucial detail. This is not unique to parapsychology in the least. Happens in physics, psychology, biology, every science, really. This happens to me ALL the time in chemistry. I've had reactions that I've ran exactly the same work wonderfully on a sunny day, but fail on a rainy day. Does that mean that the Grignard reaction doesn't exist? Of course not, that's absurd, the Grignard process was one of the most important discoveries in organic chemistry at its time. But if you read about it in a paper when it first came out, and you tried it yourself, but your glassware was a teency bit wet (I'm talking a thin film of water, or a humid room), you'd get zilch, and you wouldn't know why until you did it a bunch more times and figured out, "Oh, this reaction is highly sensitive to water."

Is psychic functioning the thing we test for, and have formed a positive hypothesis about, and have found experimental evidence for support for? You betcha. Could other things be causing the effect? Possibly, but the way science works, since those are not part of our hypothesis, we would have to test for those to confirm those as the source of the effect. Is there still some question as to what is causing the effect in psi experiments? Absolutely, that's why this argument rages on. But does that mean it's not replicable, or results go away when we tighten controls, or it's a pseudoscience? Absolutely not.


First off do you understand the term Meta-analysis ?
Secondly do you understand what the greatest problem that can occur when using collective results from different experiments ?
Thirdly these experiments seem to be outdated. If there were results clearly above chance then more research would have been conducted.
The one thing we agree on is it's not pseudoscience, but I think it is poor science.


This is not unique to parapsychology in the least. Happens in physics, psychology, biology, every science, really. This happens to me ALL the time in chemistry. I've had reactions that I've ran exactly the same work wonderfully on a sunny day, but fail on a rainy day. Does that mean that the Grignard reaction doesn't exist? Of course not, that's absurd, the Grignard process was one of the most important discoveries in organic chemistry at its time. But if you read about it in a paper when it first came out, and you tried it yourself, but your glassware was a teency bit wet (I'm talking a thin film of water, or a humid room), you'd get zilch, and you wouldn't know why until you did it a bunch more times and figured out, "Oh, this reaction is highly sensitive to water."

A bad example because chemists know that it's a real reaction and are able to take safe guards against it not happening and can even describe from theory why it happens. Contrast that to all Ganzfield proponents. They have no theory that explains it, no idea why it happens in their opinion sometimes and not others.
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