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Book review: Debating Psychic Experience: Human Potential or Human Illusion?

Randi's Prize

Rpcoverthumb1 My book Randi's Prize is back from the printers and a press release goes out tomorrow. Yay. Reviewers should start getting copies in a week or two. Publication date is now November 1.

This is the culmination of years of work, and I'm pleased to see it finally in print. The book expresses my thoughts about how psychic phenomena is downplayed or disregarded in our society. I believe this is something we need to get to grips with.

Why? Simply because the evidence for psychic functioning is so widespread, as an aspect of human consciousness and experience, that it makes no sense to ignore it as if it didn't happen. Still less to abuse those who report it as stupid or gullible, as campaigning sceptics like James Randi do.

Scepticism is a natural and healthy response to paranormal claims. We can't take at face value the notion that some 'psychics', or people with so-called psychic ability, can read minds, tell the future, or converse with the spirits of the dead, or for that matter that there is such a thing as the spirit world. These claims are antithetical to the materialist paradigm, and at the very least need to be thoroughly investigated.

So sceptics like Randi - along with others whose views I discuss in the book: Richard Wiseman, Susan Blackmore, Ray Hyman, James Alcock, David Marks, C.E.M. Hansel, etc - have a role to play. But it's wrong for sceptical scientists to imagine that these are the experts. They aren't; they're the fleas on the back of the elephant. The real experts are the parapsychologists who carry out experiments and field research.

Actually some sceptics do carry out investigations and even offer some original thinking - Susan Blackmore on out-of-body and near-death experiences, for instance. But their main concern, Blackmore included, is to dissuade their audience from taking psychic claims seriously.  Polemicists like Randi consider abuse to be an appropriate response.  I happen to think that empirical investigation, patient and painstaking, is a better way to understand these things than laughing and pointing and calling it 'woo-woo'.

Looked at from a historical perspective there is something really interesting going on here. To me it's as though the sceptics are patrolling the frontiers of the materialist paradigm, beating back the superstitious hordes. There's only a handful of them, the so-called 'specialists' who understand enough about parapsychology to sound knowledgeable to their audience, and create a plausible case against it. But if scientific materialism is to survive, these people have to be right.

After all, how much sense does it make for neuroscience and cognitive psychology to pursue the computational view of the mind if there's abundant data that would require some unknown Factor X? And how confident can evolutionary biologists and psychologists be about what has proved to be a hugely fertile field of thought if they are always looking over their shoulders at claims of telepathy and suchlike? That would put a spoke in the wheels, to put it mildly.

And do psychic phenomena indicate that consciousness survives death? If so, how will that affect secular society?  Would it end by reinforcing religious belief? And what would be the outcome of that? There are large issues here, and I've touched on some of in Randi's Prize.

I guess many of Paranormalia's readers will be familiar with a lot of the research in the book - many of them know a good deal more than I do about the subject.  But I hope that some will find something in it to interest them. Perhaps I should mention, though, that it's not primarily about James Randi - I just thought the prize thing would make a cool title.  I'm sure there is a book to be written about him, but it would be a different sort of book, and would probably only interest those people who already understand the issues. Mine, by contrast, is mainly concerned to try to explain the challenges posed by psychic research to those who know little about it, and its implications.

I'm putting together a companion website, which will contain a bit of supplementary information, and links to other research, which I'm sure readers will want to add to. There will also be a page with extracts from the book, and a summary of some of the ideas it discusses.

I'll be running a blog there too, which I intend to use to respond to criticisms and discuss readers' questions, while the more in-depth essays will continue to appear here, hopefully a bit more regularly than of late.

Aiee, so much work! So little time!

Comments

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Congratulations, Rob, I look forward to seeing it. I trust a review copy will wing its way to JSPR at some point.

I'll post a link on the SPR Facebook page now, and in due course can include the book in the website's 'publications of interest' section (when I see the publishing blurb).

Looking forward to the book!

Please send your PR to me. I would like to include the book topic on my paranormal blog site.

Please do drop me the PR material so I can mention it on Polterwotsit my blog, and the JREF. I will get a copy a soon as it's out (cash allowing)! Sounds fascinating :)
cj x

Looks like an interesting read, but I can't quite make out the subtitle. What does it say?

Why are Troubador/Orca waiting two moths with publishing after the first review copies are printed? Two weeks would be more like what I would expect (though I'm not in the book buissness)? Newspapers are printed and distributed in hours, after all?

Annalisa - good point, will try to get a better image. The subtitle is: What sceptics say about the paranormal, why they are wrong and why it matters.

Roger - the publishing world is all a bit mysterious to me. I think this first mailing is going to media publications with long lead times. The main mailing will be closer to the publication date. It takes me months to review books for the SPR, so I can sort of understand why they need it ahead of time.

Great title, gorgeous cover.

I'd love to read this one.

I was linked here from Matthew Smith's facebook, fyi.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Million-Dollar-Psychic/135540263151854

thanks, Cal

COngratulations and I am looking forward to reading it - in fact I have been looking forward to reading it since you first mentioned it on this blog. With Chris Carter's new book coming in today's mail and the promise to get yours before the end of the year, I have a lot to look forward to.

As a paranormal claimant with two skeptic arranged paranormal tests behind me (IIG test in November 2009 and small JREF TAM demonstration in July 2010) I must defend the skeptical investigators of the paranormal.

It is a common notion among the woo - which we lovingly are called - that skeptics are debunkers and unwilling to let true paranormal abilities be proven. This is the defense made by paranormal claimants who are oblivious to the scientific method, who are coming to realize that their magical experiences were nothing but confirmation bias, false memory, wishful thinking or outright fraud being exposed, and so the disappointment leads them to blaming it all on the skeptics.

Why are paranormal investigators, as opposed to skeptical investigators, always considered somewhat of a lower-class of investigators? Why are their results not published in scientific journals? Why is this open-mindedness of the paranormal investigators, seeming to disqualify them from proper acknowledgement of their work? Could it be for valid reasons?

Could it be that most of the paranormal is simply a trick of the mind, a deception, enabled by the open-mindedness and expectation that it be real? Cause how come it mysteriously vanishes when under the scrutiny of skeptics? Do skeptics perhaps have some magical ability that cancels it?

I have worked deeply in the skeptical movement for the past three years, investigating my claim of medical perception, also known as medical intuitive or dowsing, exclusively with skeptics. Skeptics are some of the most open minded people, because they are willing to be proven wrong. But they are level headed, and they understand the trickery of the mind.

For those woos thinking that it is impossible to reach to an actual skeptics test because the skeptics would be all debunkers, that is simply not true. It was very easy to arrive at a test with both the IIG and the JREF. And I am currently in discussions with none other than Dr. Richard Wiseman, who has shown some interest and willingness to consider my claims.

Skeptics are able to devise tests that would prove paranormal phenomena if those were real as described. Yet, when claims fail it is somehow the skeptics' fault.

While skeptics are often an uncomfortable, unfriendly bunch, they are honest, open, and quite willing to be proven wrong. Because as soon as any element of the paranormal be proven, it would belong to science. And skeptics love science, it is what they pledge to.

Anita Ikonen
www.visionfromfeeling.com

I think it is a little simplistic to refer to 'skeptics' as though they are some kind of uniform body. It appears to me that there is a wide range outlooks amongst those who would consider themselves as skeptics.

"It is a common notion among the woo - which we lovingly are called"

I'll leave it at that.

WOO = Wise Old Owl.

James Randi is judge, jury and executioner and if he decides against himself he loses 1 million dollars. That alone is enough to destroy Anita's argument.

So somehow cause Randi and his ilk refuse to accept it all the evidence for parapyschology such as the Ganzfield studies, the Rhine Studies, NDES and a huge etc just disappears.

Skeptics love science in the same way the KKK loves blacks.

http://www.stopvisionfromfeeling.com

kris wrote,
"James Randi is judge, jury and executioner and if he decides against himself he loses 1 million dollars. That alone is enough to destroy Anita's argument.

So somehow cause Randi and his ilk refuse to accept it all the evidence for parapyschology such as the Ganzfield studies, the Rhine Studies, NDES and a huge etc just disappears."

What I don't understand, is why when claimants either are unable to arrive at a testing protocol and conduct the test, or they have a test with the JREF and inevitably fail, the claimants will always blame the JREF.

So when I started preparing a test with the IIG and then the small demonstration with the JREF, I couldn't help but wonder if all the conspiracies were true, and if these organizations and skeptics truly were as difficult and debunking as they are described by other claimants.

But what I found was that since my claims are not based on any tricks, on any delicate statistical misconception, outright lies and fraud, or on something merely in my own head, a test was not only easy to arrange and conduct; I was given fair tests, treated really well, and:

Had I only given the correct answers I would have passed the tests.

There was nothing set in place by the skeptics to prevent me from passing. I had every opportunity to perform my claim successfully as described.

And here we go again, "Randi's million". The million is not the point here, except that woos only think of money and that is why this is used as the lure to attract their attention to having a test. Randi's Challenge is about exploring whether a claimant can do what they claim - excluding the trickery, delusions, confirmation bias, and other non-paranormal sources of apparent accuracy.

And so if Randi really won't ever let a claimant pass his challenge (which is not true, because the JREF allowed me to take a 1 in 5 demonstration which I could have easily passed even by pure chance) why won't claimants who argue simply take a test with someone else - who is a skeptic or scientist. Not a paranormal group.

The tests conducted by the JREF are exactly the same as a test conducted by any other skeptical or scientific - not paranormal - group. The only difference is, and here is why people like to complain at Randi - is the million dollar prize offer, and because as a magician Randi is just so damn good at finding the trickeries done by claimants.

So there lies the frustrations. The JREF conducts fair and professional tests. If a claimant fails, it is because their claims weren't as promised in the light of science, truth, common sense, and reality.

Anita Ikonen
www.visionfromfeeling.com

Did anyone notice Anita did nothing to refute the fact that James Randi is judge, jury and executioner and has a vested interests in not getting any results and that the fact that for all this Randi Challenge nonsense we still are getting NDES, Poltergeists, Telepathy etc. Do you even know what things such as the Rhine Study and the Ganzfield Study are Anita?

Research and science are done by researchers and scientist not magicians. Next.

Robert – can you tell me what you mean by, “The book expresses my thoughts about how psychic phenomena is downplayed or disregarded in our society”?

I can’t help noticing that promotion of the paranormal is everywhere around us. On mainstream TV we have regular series featuring Derek Acorah, Colin Fry, Tony Stockwell, Psychic Sally and others. Then of course (and even the Discovery channels are doing it), the range of paranormal programming includes Most Haunted, as well as a whole range of programmes about psychic detectives; there is Paranormal State and their never ending hunt for demons to cast out, not to mention the “TAPS” team looking for ghosts with their EMF meters and infra red cameras. Sometimes there are whole nights on TV dedicated to one paranormal programme after another. Even ordinary daytime chat show programming regularly includes some psychic or other claiming abilities and deeds that are “inexplicable.” And as if that wasn’t enough, my local radio station has a presenter who is so taken with it all that most of the guests he has on his show are from one paranormal area or another, and he keeps pushing this stuff at his audience.

Newspapers are also full of it, with their astrological columns, complete with premium rate phone numbers, and of course there are few papers that can resist sensationalising the claims of various psychics who say they have solved crimes or can channel the spirits of John Lennon, Michael Jackson, et al. And don’t forget all those advertisements for phone-in psychics. And women’s magazines just can’t get enough of it. Theatres, pubs and clubs in my area regularly host psychics.

Where I live, there are several spiritualist churches, and a number of venues that hold regular psychic fairs, and even the local newspaper runs a weekly column about the alleged supernatural (not forgetting its daily astrology column, and reports of UFOs every time one of the locals spots a Chinese lantern floating about).

In my local bookstore, the handful of books they have on science are relegated to a far corner, but the rest of their shelves are groaning under the weight of books on astrology, cosmic ordering, I-ching, the akashic record, telepathy, past lives, NDE, UFOs and alien abduction, poltergeists, angels, aromatherapy, chi, auras, spiritualism, astral projection, biorhythms, feng shui, indigo children, ley lines, dowsing, Nostradamus, palmistry, the shroud of Turin, clairvoyance, tarot cards, ancient astronauts, psychic surgery, faith healing, psychokinesis, ouija boards, fortune telling, crystal power – and the list goes on and on and on.

You can’t even get away from it at home when the peace is disturbed by religious folk turning up uninvited and insisting they can set you on the path to heaven. That’s when they’re not accosting people at railway stations and airports or just approaching people at random in the street.

Everywhere one looks there is someone or some group promoting religion, the paranormal, medical pseudoscience, new age thinking, the occult and the whole range of superstitions. How on Earth can you claim that “psychic phenomena is downplayed or disregarded in our society”? It’s everywhere you turn. (And not a single proven case among them)

Minor correction Harley, not a single proven case besides the proven ones. Care to argue the Pam Reynold's NDE case. Lets see if you can do better then Keith Augustine.

Hell even major skeptics such as Wiseman concede the paranormal has been proven ( see his comment about remote viewing). Harley's statement is plain ignorance.

Harley – fair point, I should have chosen my words more carefully. I agree that it’s big in popular culture. The appetite for sensation is unlimited. Thanks for the list. (Although I don’t think religion should be conflated with the paranormal – Western religions tend to be suspicious of it).

My point is it’s largely absent among opinion makers – scientists, science writers, philosophers, commentators in the ‘serious’ press and broadcast media who pay very little attention to it. If they do at all, they tend to be circumspect and non-committal. The papers I read, the Guardian and sometimes the Times, very rarely mention psi research. Today I was trying to think of journalists writing for the British nationals who have a particular interest in it, and I could only come up with two. (If anyone knows of any, let me know).

If telepathy is real, just to take one example, it has huge implications, for science and society as much for individuals (I talk about this a bit in the book). It’s not so much that telepathy is disbelieved – I guess privately quite a lot of educated people do take it seriously, having experienced it themselves or having someone close to them who has. It’s just something they have agreed not to talk or ask questions about. It’s too personal, too hard to get a handle on.

I’d argue that there’s an imbalance here. If the educated establishment had a more open, consensual attitude to psi experience, a better understanding of what it is – and also what it is not – then possibly we might see a less chaotic and sensational attitude to it in the popular media. One reason why they don't is because they are afraid of getting stick for it from sceptics like you.

BTW where do you live? I need to get in touch with that radio station. :)

I write works of fiction (the Ganzfield books) about parapsych abilities, and I've found that there is a lot of interest in the field. I'd love to get my hands on a review copy of Randi's Prize. If you're interested, please send one to me care of my publisher:
http://www.site.spencerhillpress.com/Contact.html
Thanks, and take care!

- Kate

Robert – I understand your point about conflating religion with the paranormal. However, afterlife believers tell us that the deceased inhabit a dimension that is outside of time and space; they are invisible, immaterial, without mass, and yet somehow manage to interact with our own (material) world, using supernatural energy that science cannot detect. Which is pretty much a description of any of the thousands of gods that people around the world currently believe in. They seem pretty similar to me.

You’re right, of course, that the opinion makers don’t spend too much time worrying about the alleged paranormal. That might be because there is no incontrovertible proof that it is true, no matter how many anecdotes and personal testimonies there are. If any independent scientists can ever replicate the claimed experimental results of the big names in paranormal research (Schwarz, Radin, Sheldrake, etc.) then I think the opinion makers – and everyone else – will sit up and take notice.

And before anyone else says it – no, I do not believe there is a conspiratorial cover up by scientists to suppress paranormal research. Scientists are as competitive as anyone else, so the opportunity to make the scientific breakthrough of a lifetime is not likely to be passed up lightly if someone thinks they can do it. A few months ago when I pointed out on another thread that Gary Schwarz’s afterlife experiments were flawed (not least because he took part as a sitter in his own experiments), a reply I got was along the lines of: “OK, his experiments are flawed. So what? He gets the results we want.” Anyone who is willing to knowingly accept flawed research as being valid research will never understand why mainstream science (and the opinion makers) don’t make much of it.

Your point about telepathy is interesting and if it were real I think the ramifications would be enormous. But I also think the paradoxes it would entail would mean that either it cannot exist, or if it does, then the whole world would descend into absolute chaos. Many paranormalists say that we all have an innate telepathic or clairvoyant ability, but that in most people it is simply not developed; perhaps in the future everyone will evolve or develop these abilities. Try a thought experiment (no pun intended):

A man sees an attractive woman and thinks, “Wow, she’s alright. Wouldn’t mind getting her under the covers.” Five seconds later, the woman’s jealous husband approaches and punches him in the mouth for thinking about his wife that way. He then goes to his wife and punches her too for finding the man attractive. (No words have been spoken – this is all done telepathically) If they are all telepathic, why didn’t the man avoid the husband’s attack, or at least realise there was a jealous husband about and just keep his thoughts to himself (which, obviously, he can’t) and why didn’t the woman run away before she was punched? And what about other people in the vicinity – how will they react or interact given the fact that they all know what each other is thinking?

It gets more interesting if clairvoyance is real: A man is minding his own business and the jealous husband comes over and punches him in the mouth because he knows that the man is going to think lustfully about the wife in the next minute or so. Then why did the man not foresee the attack before it happened? But what if the police arrive to arrest the husband for assault before he commits the deed and therefore before the man has even seen the woman he is going to have those thoughts about? And after all that, will he still have those thoughts, seeing as how the whole sequence of events has now changed? Or could they be changed at all, if the future is there waiting to be played out?

If you give it a few minutes thought, it doesn’t take long to realise the absurdities and paradoxes that would come about (think about the time-traveller grandfather paradox). The reality, however, is that there has not yet appeared even one person who can unequivocally demonstrate such powers. Meta-analyses are so far the only way that researchers tease out anything that perhaps might indicate, perhaps, maybe or maybe not, possibly, it might just be, or not, or could be, that there is anything paranormal going on. But it’s far from conclusive.

I think I can see why the more sensible newspapers like the Guardian and the Times are not falling over themselves to publish paranormal pieces. I’ve asked here before why those claiming psychic abilities cannot perform when invited to do so. But the answer is always the same: it doesn’t work like that; these powers are rare and elusive; they cannot be called up at will; the psychic energy is weak right now; an unbeliever is upsetting the vibrations; there is a fluctuation in the psychic continuum (OK, I made the last one up, but it sounds as good as the rest, and there is an equal lack of evidence to support the assertion). That might be good enough for the believers, who will not seriously question it, but the opinion makers are a different matter. The “educated establishment” you refer to might not accept the paranormal as real, but I suspect a clue to the reason why they don’t might lie in the word “educated” – especially if their education has included some sound science. They might be convinced, however, if someone could be produced who could just, say, predict the lottery numbers every week (I know – it doesn’t work like that; rare and elusive phenomenon, etc.).

I’m not sure what your penultimate paragraph alludes to – the “educated establishment” doesn’t seem to me to have anything in common with the “popular media.” Maybe the popular media represents the antithesis of the educated establishment – the ignorant masses, maybe. But I don’t think anyone – educated or ignorant – is afraid of getting stick from “sceptics like me.” (I seem to be the one who gets all the stick around here)

If you want to know where I live and which radio station I am referring to, perhaps one of your telepathic correspondents can post the answer here for you. ;-)

That would be impressive. (And deserve further research, as they always, but always say)

Harley

How many times have you been flattened on this subject now? You are by far one of the easiest skeptics I have ever argued with. Be exact at times I have suspected you were secretly a paranormalist out to make skeptics look bad.

First replication.

Studies such as the Rhine and Ganzfield have been replicated in dozens of universities for over 50 years. Next. Meta analysis is a perfectly rational means of evaluating results and has been used in 100s of areas. It doesn't come invalid just because it rains on your pet philosophies. Next

Secondly reincarnation research has been replicated and so has NDE research. I will gladly fill in your gaps if you don't know what I mean.

Of course if another scientist replicated what Radin etc did you would simply type this sentence like this

"If any independent scientists can ever replicate the claimed experimental results of the big names in paranormal research (Schwarz, Radin, Sheldrake, insert name of scientist who replicated result etc.) then I think the opinion makers – and everyone else – will sit up and take notice."

I would observe if you would actually read the studies in question you could answer your own questions. The blunt answer to almost all your questions is that the forces in question are not powerful enough to create the effect in question. Your question basically is akin to asking why doesn't the earth collide into the sun if gravity is so powerful, see gravity doesn't exist folks.

As for flawed research, lets let the skeptics speak on that one.

From Ray Hyman

The SAIC experiments are well-designed and the investigators have taken pains to eliminate the known weaknesses in previous parapsychological research. In addition, I cannot provide suitable candidates for what flaws, if any, might be present. Just the same, it is impossible in principle to say that any particular experiment or experimental series is completely free from possible flaws. An experimenter cannot control for every possibility--especially for potential flaws that have not yet been discovered.

There even a perfect parapsychology experiment is not enough.

and lets see another skeptic quote

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

So even your own side does not agree with your dribble Harley.

Lastly I consider the guardian a liberal rag not worthy of being toilet paper but that is just my view.

Harley, why do you always waste so much time writing massive essays. You would be much better off writing one decent sentence than an essay full of idiotic assumptions. For someone so distrustful of the media, your idea of telepathy is clearly based entirely on what you've seen on TV, rather than any claims that anyone has ever made. Did you really think your moronic thought experiments (which betray a really nasty view of humanity, by the way) were so clever we'd be at a loss for a response. No one ever claimed that telepathy meant hearing other people's thoughts or knowing what everyone around you is thinking, or seeing the future like a movie, except for fake psychics and writers of fiction. Think of it as feeling vibrations, as a stoner would say. It's just feelings, which are hard to pick up on, hard to interpret, etc. Your supposed "paradoxes" are based on your own assumptions, and prove nothing .

As for your point that "If any independent scientists can ever replicate the claimed experimental results of the big names in paranormal research (Schwarz, Radin, Sheldrake, etc.) then I think the opinion makers – and everyone else – will sit up and take notice." why don't Radin, Sheldrake etc. count as "independent scientists. They did the research, and they got positive results, but it is not being hailed as a scientific breakthrough, so why would someone else doing the same thing cause people to take notice. Wouldn't they become just another name in you list of "big name" paranormal researchers whose research needs to be replicated. And if your looking for it to be replicated by a skeptic, or a skeptic change their mind and say its real, its not like that hasn't happened. I would find specific examples but its almost 3:30 and I have things to do. I'll find them later.

Kris – the number of times I’ve been “flattened” on the subject? It has never happened – except in your imagination.

Your claims of replication, as always, are just claims. No references or links to back them up; you’re all talk.

I see you are quote-mining again. Hyman and Wiseman, but as previously, the Wiseman quote especially is not the full quote. But I’m not going to bother correcting you yet again.

As you say, “…the forces in question are not powerful enough to create the effect in question.” Yes, it doesn’t work like that, does it? Rare and elusive phenomena. It seems to me that a force that cannot produce an effect is the same as no force at all.

The Guardian, however, is a fine newspaper, but I can understand why you don’t like it – they do use some big words now and again. Anyway, it was Robert who mentioned the Guardian, not me. If you think Robert’s choice of reading material is not even fit for toilet paper, I suggest you take it up with him. Those goddamn liberals, eh?

Qwerty – you call me idiotic and moronic – the standard response of someone without an argument; but there are others here who are cleverer than you and can at least be more imaginative with their insults towards me: personally, I do not stoop to insulting someone in lieu of argument: and all said in a single sentence (admittedly a compound sentence, but not essay-length (and if you think my comments are essay-length, it is clear that you have never been required to actually write an essay): I stand by my comments and await someone to deconstruct them in a methodological manner, justifying their arguments in a logical and coherent way): people like yourself, however, always seem to take the easy route – it’s much easier than having to think, though.

Harley

As I always say on this, I am very very happy to recommend any newcomer to this website read all our previous discussions and see who they think is more informed and who hammered who.

Ah yeah you did mention the Guardian Harley, people can just read your post and see you did.

This is 100% why I encourage people just to read our discussions cause honestly you cannot recall what you said one post ago. If you are not bright enough to recall your own comments what in blazes makes you think you are competent enough to have any view on anything beyond what food you want to eat.

Of course Harley won't correct me, cause I am so obviously wrong. Again I encourage new comers to see just how absurd this troll is. Read his discussions with me and other people!

Qwerty

Get used to Harley. You can flatten his arguments 1000 times and he will say he won. He will accuse you of everything under the sun without an iota of proof. He will forget what he said from one post to another. He will purposely misunderstand you to make cheap points. But Paranormalia wouldn't be Paranormalia without him and he has a certain befuddled charm to him. I for one honestly like him even if I think if he could he would take his brain out and play with.

it.

Robert, you do Susan Blackmore in particular a disservice by saying "their main concern, Blackmore included, is to dissuade their audience from taking psychic claims seriously". She spent years as a researcher and believer in psi phenomena, and only rejected the psi hypothesis when she repeatedly failed to get positive results. Also, she seems to have encountered some sloppy practices among other researchers, which contributed to her disillusionment with psi research.

Simon - I did hestitate before including Blackmore in this generalisation, and I do have a lot more respect for her as a thinker than some other sceptics. But I think the point is fair. It's true that she was enthusiastic about psi as a student, and I'm a bit unclear about how and when the change in her thinking occurred. But I can't agree that it was purely a result of her own failure to get postive results'.

I'm influenced by Rick Berger's critique, which considers that she downplayed statistical significance in her own work and that her claim of ‘ten years
of psi research’ actually represents 'a series of hastily constructed, executed,
and reported studies that were primarily conducted during a 2-year period’.

(http://www.parapsych.org/psiexplorer/blackmore_critique.htm)

It's easier to find fault with others (eg her critique of Carl Sargent's work) than with one's own.

In her rebuttal Blackmore did at least admit that no conclusion could be drawn one way or the other from her work. Yet in general, her attitude is robustly sceptical and she often urges readers to stop taking psi seriously as an anomaly.

Harley, you have been 'flattened' on numerous occasions, or have I been subjected to a shared imaginary experience?

Sue Blackmore was mentioned. M/s Blackmore has conducted no(zero-none nein jackshit) serious investigations into anything paranormal. She is pleasant and mildly interesting.....but her theories on NDE's etc are horseshit(sorry but it is so) and she never has got over the 'fact' that popular opinion swallowed them whole as truths. Hell, she even believes her own rubbish herself, now.

Really looking forward to "Randi's Prize." I hope the publisher has plans to put it out as an ebook. Though I'll happily read it in print if that's the only version available, I'd prefer a Kindle edition.

I'm glad that Anita Ikonen encountered no difficulties in arranging to be tested by JREF. Others haven't been so fortunate. See this example:

tiny.cc/byi6pc9z3n

Whatever the merits of the Greek homeopaths' claims, it seems clear they were given the runaround.

Also note that there's a big difference between a preliminary (non-binding) test and a test that could actually result in payment of the prize money. The biggest hurdles often arise *after* the preliminaries. In fact, I don't think anyone has ever made it to the final testing stage.

Hello Michael, good to see you here. There'll be Kindle and iPad versions soon, but happy to send you a print copy in the meantime if you give me an address (robertmcluhan@googlemail.com)

best

Robert

Yes Matt in fact Harley has been destroyed on here by numerous people many times. Simple read the comment sections of various posts on this blog. That is all one has to do and I have no problem as a paranormalist encouraging people to do that.

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