The Geller Spanner
Guests on Paranormalia

Skeptics: more media savvy?

by Matthew Colborn

Richard Wiseman is at it again. He's just done a remote viewing study on Twitter with 7000 participants that, suprise surprise, has got negative results (New Scientist, 13 June 2009, p. 23).

Some thoughts:

1. Why is it that skeptics in the UK at least seem to have a far higher profile in the pop science literature than academic parapsychologists? Most controversies on psi in magazines like the New Scientist are fielded by Wiseman, French, etc., who seem a lot more media savvy than, say, the Northampton people.

2. I've come to see these sort of experiments as disconformatory propaganda e.g. high profile 'skeptics' claiming that they've looked into ESP and found nothing. Historically, mass-testing has proved a poor way of eliciting psi, but a negative result this way is a very effective way of persuading fellow scientists that there's nothing in parapsychology.

3. Ok, I'll be blunt; I think that academic parapsychology is absolutely lousy at self-promotion, especially when compared to those in the skeptical camp, who are far more articulate and media friendly. I suspect that Nancy Zigrone was right when she said that parapsychologists have let the skeptics set the agenda too much. The price is that parapsychologists tend to remain always on the offensive.

Secondly, academic parapsychologists seem a very timid bunch, who would rather hide and preserve reputations than stick their necks out and advocate their research. This also allows skeptics to gain the upper hand.

Another consequence for short-term timidity is a longer term closing of departments and the sidelining from serious academic discussion.

4. I'll be even blunter. I think that parapsychologists are losing the fight to be a visible and viable part of the academic research programme. This is despite the fact that there are probably more academic parapsychologists scattered through the UK that there have ever been. The spokespeople, however, remain far too apologetic and silent during critical moments, such as during the closing of the Edinburgh labs, or after the recent Perrott-Warwick day, where, once more, the skeptics dominated and set the agenda.

And it's not that the New Scientist necessarily censors 'pro' pieces; on the same pages (pp. 22--3), there's a piece by a chiropractor defending the profession against Singh's allegations.It's that professional proponents often lack the skeptics' initiative as far as the mass media is concerned. (This is ignoring the amateurs on shows like 'Haunted homes, 'etc., who often portray parapsychologyin a poor light, anyway.)

We all know who speaks for skepticism; they lose no opportunity for publicity and voice. But who, precisely, is speaking up for academic parapsychology?


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I have very little sympathy with the organized "skeptics" (who really are not skeptics at all, but advocates for a materialist/atheist ideology). However, I can't entirely blame them for refusing to believe in psi. It's partly the fault of parapsychology for not coming up with better evidence. The "skeptics" would not be so loud and arrogant if there were real hard evidence against them.

The controversy is ultimately scientific, not political. Most psi believers are probably not very scientific and can't argue convincingly with materialist/atheists who have learned to debate logically. But the parapsychologists don't have that excuse. Why aren't they fighting for their ideas and their survival?

I don't believe it's because they're timid. Even a timid person realizes you have to fight for your own survival, or for the research you love.

I suspect that parapsychology can't ever come up with the hard evidence that would convince the "skeptics." I think the kind of science that works for our "physical" level might not work so well for higher, mental or spiritual, levels.

You have to contend with the Trickster for one thing. Do you know what I mean? The Trickster mediates between levels (according to what I remember from what I have read about it). Many religions have this concept, and I think Jesus might be a typical example, which is why he taught in riddles.

Insanity, jokes, dreams, all kinds of irrationality -- the doorway between our world and higher dimensions mangles logic and sense. It mangles everything that science is made of.

So maybe jokes get played on us when we try to apply our science to higher levels. Maybe a psychic who was almost infallible suddenly can't perform at all under the scornful gaze of a "skeptic."

I don't know if anyone will agree with any of this, just some thoughts I've had. I argue about parapsychology, etc., on "skeptic" blogs. I think they are very close-minded and in many ways ignorant. But they are more logical than the average believer. I really think you can or could convince them, if only the higher worlds would be serious and scientific, but I doubt they will.

The evidence is out there; thousands of well controlled studies testify to the reality of psi phenomena. This is not a issue concerning evidence but presentation. Most psi researchers don't want to rock the boat by having career destroying spats with skeptics, especially in high impact forums such as New Scientist. Eventually the data will trump prejudicial biases, but until then, the skeptics will control the media and how parapsychology is perceived by the general population.

There is a great deal of research, by far more eminent scientists than Richard Wiseman, which supports the existence of a wide range of phenomena. The problem is that the experimenters are often no longer around to cross-examine or defend themselves (Lodge, Crookes etc) and that many of the phenomena which they report are hard (or seemingly impossible these days) to find.

Either Lodge, Crookes etc were duped which even a cursory read of some of their reports will show is unlikely or the phenomena have for some reason become even rarer than they were then. One can speculate why but that's all it would be.

Of course this begs the obvious comment that they aren't observable now "because they never happened in the first place". Whilst I see the appeal of that, I think it requires one to disregard a lot of evidence and to discount a number of reputable sources.

The only thing Wiseman even remotely (heh) proved in that 'experiment' is that skeptics don't make good senders...

I agree strongly with realpc above - and recommend to them George Hansen's "The Trickster and the Paranormal". Now Hansen is a good spokesman for Psi research - funny how he's not turning up in New Scientist, innit?

I realize there is an enormous amount of evidence for psi. But it seems that when "skeptics" do the experiments they don't work. Maybe it's because the experimenter's mind inevitably gets involved, or because psi just doesn't like to be predictable.

Sorry realpc - I wasn't trying to teach you to suck eggs. I realise you know there is a lot of research and evidence, I just thought I'd make the general point.

Good initial comment too. I agree with it.As with most things in life, our motivation can affect the outcome perhaps. spontaneous from the world point of view, it happens when it does, it cannot be forced is bound by different laws than those of the world. It happens through peoples minds and bodies....if it happens.

People are always having strange experiences, but where is a scientist when you need one?

Part of the reason skeptics have a higher profile in pop science lit is that a large segment of the audience accepts their standpoint already. To present theory/study/evidence against the grain (for that audience) will take a more stellar effort even than what the confirming viewpoint need provide.

Media will not, after all, be tempted to present a lot of content that the readers are disinclined to pay attention to.

The need to overcome this audience bias works for skeptics addressing non-skeptical audiences as well.

"Part of the reason skeptics have a higher profile in pop science lit is that a large segment of the audience accepts their standpoint already."

I don't think so. Most of the public has either had paranormal experiences or believes they are possible. However highly educated people are increasingly indoctrinated into materialism/atheism. Not because it's a better ideology, just because it's considered smart to be a "skeptical" atheist. Especially since the American religious Right and the Muslim terrorists have done a good job in recent years of turning people off from religion in general.

But Americans are still religious and most still believe in God, and many still believe in angels, devils, spirits, ghosts, etc. I think it depends largely on what part of the country you live in (red or blue), when and if you went to college, and what you majored in.

I have been in environments where it was an unspoken "fact" that all paranormal beliefs are ignorant superstitions. And in other environments, it's the opposite.

I think the media is now predominantly "blue," progressive and educated, which would make them tend to be non-believers.

Of course, where you live and your social context do not necessarily determine what you believe, they just influence your beliefs.

Anyway, if pop science is anti-psi, it's because of the journalists more than the audience, I think. Of course, the audience is influenced by the media and we might see an anti-psi avalanche in coming years.

"However highly educated people are increasingly indoctrinated into materialism/atheism. Not because it's a better ideology, just because it's considered smart to be a 'skeptical' atheist."

It's not a better ideology? The scientific method has put man on the bottom of the ocean and on the surface of the moon, dramatically reduced the ravages of disease and increased the life span and its quality, given us instant world-wide communication, etc. Remote viewing, prayer and crystal balls, respectively, have failed to achieve these goals first. The scientific method is one method/worldview among many, but it has been wildly, spectacularly successful. The several hundred years before it came into vogue are dubbed, quite appropriately, "The Dark Ages".

One isn't "indoctrinated" into materialism/atheism; one *observes* materialism/atheism. It IS observed reality. Claims of invisible, magical beings, special powers, etc. are not readily observable/demonstrable despite claims to the contrary in some of the previous comments. Realpc, you hit it on the head in your first comment: if you want to sway people, produce some evidence.

Mr. Colborn, it's not about P.T. Barnum-style showmanship. It's about having peer-reviewed, repeatable, statistically significant, double-blind evidence. At BEST, the evidence that exists comes from meta-analysis of pooling dozens and dozens of studies and showing an extremely small psi effect on machines/random number generators. This in no way is evidence of the reality of the claims of people on television who purport to speak to the dead, read the future, read minds, remote view, heal people, etc. Even if one accepts the claim of a mountain of evidence, it's a mountain of evidence for an anthill, not the superheroes advocates claim exist. In that respect, parapsychology needs LESS showmanship, not more.

In regards to George Hansen, he's advancing your cause by doing what I just said: taking the axe to some of the wild-eyed frauds like Dean Radin, the man who recently claimed to scientifically prove the existence of the powers of "Intentional Chocolate" - chocolate for sale that is allegedly exposed to a "recording" of the brain waves of meditating Buddist Monks and can make you more happy than conventional chocolate, and who excortiated the media for mocking his work, and bragged about censoring his blog from anyone who tried to post flaws with his paper.

Read George's post, and you'll see what the real problem is with the current state of parapsychology. Regarding the disparity in publicity: on one side you have Stephen Hawking, on the other, you have magic chocolate and Dean Radin, who'd find statistical evidence for the tooth fairy if you paid him enough money to do so (his work was commissioned by the makers of the magic chocolate). Do the math... if that isn't too materialist/atheistic a thing to do.,9171,1887858,00.html

" spontaneous from the world point of view, it happens when it does, it cannot be forced is bound by different laws than those of the world. "

If it happens in the world, and affects our world, then it is measurable and testable by the scientific method. If it is beyond our world and doesn't interact with our world, then it is irrelevant whether it exists or not.

"If it happens in the world, and affects our world, then it is measurable and testable by the scientific method. If it is beyond our world and doesn't interact with our world, then it is irrelevant whether it exists or not."

Excellent point.

"Dean Radin, who'd find statistical evidence for the tooth fairy if you paid him enough money to do so"

Although that is a very low blow. Personal insults can have the effect of making readers dubious about your motivations.

Josepth, have you read Dean Radin's responses to George's post? I'll post them anyway (read the Comments section for his response to the Monte-Carlo point):

Regarding the topic of this blog posting: It only takes one blog entry to make claims of fraud, or shoddy experimental design/implementation, to cause the internet hive-mind to call the entire history of parapsychological data into question. The sceptics don't have to work too hard to sway public opinion.

I take the time to educate myself by reading entire books published by sceptics and parapsychologists (if anyone's looking for a place to start, try Psi Wars and The Conscious Universe). This has armed me with enough information to make up my own mind. Reading sporadic blog postings just doesn't do the subject justice.

"It's not a better ideology? The scientific method has put man on the bottom of the ocean and on the surface of the moon" ... blah blah blah blah.

I have heard that so many times at the atheist blogs. I have explained over and over that science and materialist/atheism are NOT THE SAME THING. There is nothing about the scientific method that says materialism is the truth. None of the modern scientific and technological discoveries depend on materialism or atheism. Why do atheists take credit for all advances?

How many of the greatest scientists were atheists? Not very many.

"The scientific method is one method/worldview among many, but it has been wildly, spectacularly successful. "

The scientific method HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH atheism or materialism! Why is this crazy idea being promoted?

" Claims of invisible, magical beings, special powers, etc. are not readily observable/demonstrable despite claims to the contrary in some of the previous comments."

People would have said the same thing about electromagnetism before it was observed and measured.

There IS evidence for psi, but my point was that psi is tricky. Not that it isn't real.

"the man who recently claimed to scientifically prove the existence of the powers of "Intentional Chocolate""

The "Intentional Chocolate" claim is a toe-curling PR liability for parapsychology, no doubt, but is there any strong reason to think that it's actually an especially implausible psi hypothesis? If you compare it to the psi claims most broadly accepted by academic parapsychologists, it's roughly comparable to some of them (like remote staring) and directly related to several of the others - healing intention, effects claimed for meditation, the placebo effect.

As for Hansen, I'm sure his work deserves the respect and serious attention it gets. (Often from people he's criticised at some stage, Radin among them!) But I'd be cagey about setting him up as the white knight of unvarnished truth in parapsychology. It's hard not to notice how well Hansen's depiction of the trickster fits Hansen himself; and it's hard to believe that Hansen himself hasn't noticed.

Once again it boils down to one single thing:

Whether parapsychology can produce convincing evidence of the existence of such phenomenon, or if not, then be mocked and ridiculed for the lack of the aforementioned.

All other aspects, including musings about media coverage and ad hoc -excuses "why the stars weren't in correct position to produce a paranormal event or the universe isn't talking to us", are completely pointless.

You think it's real? Then prove it beyond doubt. Simple, eh?

I'm still laughing at Dean Radin being described as a 'wild eyed fraud'. Come on. How on earth does he fit that description?

By the way, I appreciate that if Radin was 'commissioned' by the makers of the chocolate that it might cause a problem. However, I presume that you also feel a lot of medical studies are flawed these days for the same reason, and treat them dubiously as such?

"You think it's real? Then prove it beyond doubt. Simple, eh?"

There are many very strange ideas in physics now days and you don't see "skeptics" demanding they be simply proved beyond doubt. Not everything is simple.

But parapsychologists don't help their cause by selling magic chocolate, I have to admit. Even if it's real, it's just too easy to ridicule.

I agree realpc - it's a bit like Arthur Conan Doyle and his fairies.

Your point about physics is an interesting one. I find the idea that we are creating multiple parallel universes preposterous and the respected physicist (David Deutsch) concerned. This may be my ignorance but I understand there is no material evidence whatsoever of it. I am however prepared to accept that there may be some basis for his belief (for such it is) which I cannot understand or appreciate.

With regard to paranormal phenomena; there is decades of evidence collected from a wide variety of sources, some of the highest repute. It may not reach the standard of "beyond doubt" for those who have not experienced it directly (such as myself) however to dismiss all the testimony and in some instances scientific data is pure arrogance (or simply ignorance).

Damn! I wish I had previewed the comment or could edit it. I meant to say David Deutsch is not dismissed contemptuously by his peers.

"Mr. Colborn, it's not about P.T. Barnum-style showmanship."

Maybe this is partly my point! The level of many of the experiments performed in public and on TV -- including those by skeptics -- are PRECISELY P.T. Barnum-type stunts. Richard Wiseman -- whom I know and like personally, by the way, has a history of high-profile media debunkings that tend to resemble publicity stunts more than systematic science.

"It's about having peer-reviewed, repeatable, statistically significant, double-blind evidence. At BEST, the evidence that exists comes from meta-analysis of pooling dozens and dozens of studies and showing an extremely small psi effect on machines/random number generators."

I actually agree with this statement, as far as the lab experiments go. But the best of parapsychology still seems to show effects where, according to conventional science, there shouldn't be *ANYTHING*.

My point is that without an academic forum for debate (parapsychology being largely excluded from such fora), the public debates matter, and that in the pop science literature, which the intelligensia of a country tend to read, the default view is that parapsychology is total nonsense and shouldn't even have a fair hearing. My point is that the 'case for the defence' should be heard in places like the New Scientist more than it actually is. I want a level playing-field, not one that's biased either way.

"This in no way is evidence of the reality of the claims of people on television who purport to speak to the dead, read the future, read minds, remote view, heal people, etc"

Again, I agree.There's a lot of nonsense out there. Also, in anomalistics, most claims will turn out to be nonsense, because they are long shots. Skeptics will on average be right. But they will also occasionally be wrong, and it's those occasions that interest me.

Political vs. scientific debates: Perhaps I should have made it clearer that of course, a scientific debate should e decided on a preponderance of evidence. But in actual fact, especially in the social sciences, it's never that simple. Different people and groups will inevitably differ in approach, standard and kind of evidence. in frontier science, one also often runs into the limitations of experimentation. Science is far messier in real life than in theory.

Secondly, a reasonable case can be made that psychology especially can NEVER entirely be divorced from its social and political context. The whole sub-discipline of critical psychology is founded on this idea. Decisions about human nature are inevitably politically loaded. For example, the outcome of the free will debate has profound consequences either way. This additional layer makes it even harder to decide what's true and what isn't. The strong rhetoric often exhibited by science-pundits really doesn't help matters.

Finally, science in the main has not been in the business of seeking truth for a long time. Science is now mainly a career and a profession. This means that corporate, majority views will tend to predominate and even actively exclude minority views.

My dream, vision, if you like, is for a far more pluralistic science where minority views and outrageous theories are actually *encouraged.* Most will be wrong, but if we have any faith in the self-correcting nature of science at all, then the ones that are right will survive. Without this greater plurality and tolerance for at least proposing unorthodox ideas, then I think science will continue to stagnate in bureaucratic hell.

The problem is that these disparaging skeptics are highly skilled adept magicians and political operators too. Extremely successful ones with high media profiles and financial muscle. They also happen to be sneering hustlers and superb psychological manipulators.

At a quantum level they are spinning their empty, cynical pessimistic worlds into being, just like the rest of us; the last thing they want is proof of psychic phenomena. It would mean the end of who they are - this is a power game for high stakes. They have career agendas; many friends in high places and too manny vested interests.

In the case of Susan Blakemore; Richard Wiseman and Chris French - I know genuine psychic friends who have worked with them and when they have produced highly successful results - these defenders of rationality refuse to appear or walk out.

In the case of Wiseman - he is notorious for rigging and manipulating data and has been expelled from academic institutions like the Koestler Institute in Edinburgh because of it. Yes he cheats to suit his own ends. Surprise surprise he happens to be a trained conjuror just like James Randi.

The point is that no truth can be gained from any involvement wiht these bastions of cynicism. Better to remove the oxygen of publicity from them altogether so they go back to the streets and their cheap cunjering sideshows where they belong.

For one thing is certain. While many of us in the world would like the cat in Schrödinger's famous theoretical experiment to live - these mocking, scornful jesters of so called truth want it dead and buried. They will be unable to contain a smug self satisfied smile when the poor limp broken body is raised into the air triumphantly. For in this strange world - their faith in its cruel demise will always be stronger

I agree most parapsychologists are much too timid about the importance of what we study. I'm trying to change that with a book I've just published, "The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together."
In a nutshell, materialism is a philosophy, an interesting working hypotheses that works well in many areas. But it has become what I'm calling Dismissive, Scientistic Materialism, a system of Absolute Truth, which arrogantly dismisses all spirituality as nonsense and pretends to be scientific, when it's actually scientistic, a dogma. When you look at the hundreds of experiments producing first class evidence for various psi phenomena, though, people sometimes show the kinds of properties we would expect a spiritual being to have. There's lots of nonsense still around, of course, as in all area of life, but I'm convinced it's quite reasonable to be both scientific and spiritual in one's life. Being arrogant and dismissive on either side of the debate is not reasonable.

Charles T. Tart

What if psi is a limited and finite force, in that when you do get results above chance, there will be a period where it is dormant due to its past success. In the greater picture, the numbers approximate 50/50. However, this may not mean that at a given and specific point no phenomena was observed.

Take for instance an electric impulse to a muscle. It works great initially, and between rest.... but if you stimulate the muscle repeatedly it fatigues.

What if these energies require greater interpretive mathematical precision rather than general marshalling of numbers?

Perhaps we rely on psi all the time, and our capacity fills and releases itself all the time, unknown or untested to the naked eye. We than test, not realizing that this finite capacity to marshal energies may actually be used everyday for our survival, like breathing in and out, only that we do not have conscious control of it the way one would of an ability that they were entirely conscious of.

I guess what I am saying is try getting a singer to sing without being concious of their breathing.

The singer sing when there is air in the lungs, tries again without and fails.

The difference is that the singer is aware of breathing, but they were not, they to will oddly fail and succeed and some may say singing is just a chance act, it is not sustainable.

We just don't understand the mechanics, and who knows if a psychic tapping into that field, and using it for mundane things actually saps that capacity of their higher self from doing unconscious day to day psi.

What is interesting is that when we create a logical unit like a CPU, we soon realized the power of networking that CPU... hence the internet. This is also true of animals that adopt communication.

Some sort of psi connection makes sense, even if it is a dormant sense that was out evolved because it was hard to kill a deer when you could feel how the damn thing felt. So we turned it off so that we can survive individually... but as our society becomes more social.

Intuitive people start having an edge again, those that can relate and feel what others are feeling have an advantage in a social context.

The problem is that social capacity only exceed brawn recently, and these abilities are not going to be very evolved yet.

Matt's guest column and comment are excellent and I agree with everything he says, especially re the need for parapsychologists to stop acting like spineless wimps. (My words, not his).

A small correction to another's comment: Wiseman wasn't 'expelled' from the Koestler Parapsychology Unit [sic]. He did resign from the SPR rather suddenly, allegedly expecting to be slung out for bringing psychical research into disrepute, but I can't comment further on that.

As for 'hard evidence', I'm still waiting for sensible suggestions as to how Uri Geller bent that spanner, and for offers to test it with crystallography x-rays or whatever. Even when you have hard evidence (chrome vanadium is very hard indeed), nobody seems to know what to do with it.

I urge everybody who feels as I do about Wiseman's tendentious twitterings to write to the New Scientist and let them know your views. Even if they don't print your letter, any serious publication is interested in its readers' views, and the NSc did once print a letter of mine, so it can be done.

(4th post in a row, please excuse me this fascinates me and I keep getting ideas)

What I find interesting is that most cultures that dwell in these abilities talk about how the EGO is opposes the subtleties of these powers.

Most shaman and mystics, struggle their entire lives to shed their hold of simple desires and generally seem a lot more detached from the average commoner.

This kind of makes sense, because if we were prewired for some sort of a communication between all minds, if a person acted egotistically the mechanism would cut him off from doing damage to the rest of the network. If a person acted as he was everything and as equal as the tree next to him, perhaps there will be a window of data available to him that otherwise would not if they were thinking egotistically.

Most of these skeptics seem very egotistical. So I am not surprised that they have a hard time re-creating the phenomena.

The mind may have two level, an ego level that is responsible for your immediate survival, that we have relied on to this point, and a higher connected mind that acts as a guideline for the organisms progression.

I't funny how a lot of these states come out when people are in trances, sleepy or forget themselves for a moment. I think the ego, is anti-psi, and essential for that task.

Hello all-

I wrote a little piece Why skeptics lose (the public mind)

And as you see if you click the link we started a little row with "Action Skeptics Annoying stupid people, one woo at a time."

Just wondering what you think of that debate. Also, remember you're welcome to edit the wiki. Really, I see a lot of energy given out on forums which could be made into articles which would start to build a database of understanding for the future.

Interesting article, Purple scissor. interesting link to a skeptic blog too.

Am I the only one who finds the phrase 'woo-woo' irritating in the extreme? Can't they find some better term of disparagement?! We're not three-year-olds!


Matt, I think that's the point, they do it to wind us up. If it irritates us it's working!

Nice post, btw

Thanks guys! Yes, they do it to wind us up, but also because it makes them feel larger by comparison. I don't want to completely degenerate into pop psych, but it seems pretty obvious that people who feel secure don't generally insult others. I'm going to try and expand the article into the psychology if I can find enough sources, or write a new article.

I guess it's a type of ad hominem attack. It is clearly intended to belittle others. Why would it be necessary to belittle an opponent if one is confident of decisive victory? Perhaps overweaning confidence or fear?

Well, if they are confident they are only that way because they think that history will prove them right. But if they consider past history, they do not have much reason to be confident. They have had hundreds of years now to stamp out woo. But the things they are against generally survive or prosper. Traditional religion is one area of success for skepticism, but is often replaced by beliefs skeptics do not approve.

I agree Purple.

Quite a lot of real 'woo' has been stamped out but like an overenthusiastic gardener some haven't stopped at real weeds and have continued to pull out all the flowers they just don't like, as well.

The simple reason 'woo' can't be stamped out is imho because there is far too much evidence to extinguish and too many people experience it day-to-day. It may not meet everyone's criteria as 'proof by reasonable doubt' but it is undeniable there.

As in court, much of the evidence is dependent, for me anyway at the moment, on the reputation and character of the witnesses. I have to say there are some very credible witnesses out there.

When I first started to seriously consider the evidence about four years or so ago I was shocked at the quantity of information and the credentials of those who supported survival. I found it hard (and still do) to understand how so much vital information could have been hidden for so long.

Yes, I think that any skeptic would acknowledge that much that skeptics say is pseudoscience would meet the standards of any court of law. One of our articles quotes Wiseman saying remote viewing is proven to the standard of other sciences- but he doesn't accept RV because it is so outlandish. I wonder what the criteria are for saying something is outlandish. Do you know any analysis of that?

Both sides in many of the debates seem to have "credible witnesses." Wiseman is a case in point- he has credentials or scholarship. Nevertheless, he is not unimpeachable. He as made rather extreme errors of judgment, I believe, with Deminka and Sheldrake.

Skeptics are indeed more media savvy in many ways. I started my site in the hope of leveling that playing field a bit, but it is hard to get people to participate. It is easy to write a comment, much harder to write an article which will be of real use in the future.

I don't think sceptics have many or any credible witnesses to genuine phenomena because they assert that the phenomena don't exist. The best they would be able to do in this instance is to have a high profile or respected person say that they didn't witness anything, offer an alternative explanation for what they did see or assert what they saw was fraudulent (and there are instances of the latter two - even from those who support the existence of paranormal phenomena). It seems to me that a witness who didn't see something is not the same as a witness who positively DID see something. Just because a witnesses doesn't see a thing doesn't necessarily mean it didn't happen.

Any details about Wiseman being expelled from Koestler? A quick google didn't bring up anything, though I've heard this before.

He wasn't expelled from the KPU. In fact, that's where he got his PhD. You may be thinking of his rather sudden resignation from the SPR. I can assure you that he was not expelled from the SPR either. He resigned, and you'd have to ask him why.

One individual who is speaking up for academic parapsychology is Lawrence LeShan, whose new book "A New Science of the Paranormal: The Promise of Psychical Research" deals with this very issue.

Essentially LeShan is telling parapsychologists that they should not let themselves be browbeaten by the professional skeptics.

Yes, LeShan's book is excellent. You'd probably also enjoy:-
Charles Tart - The End of Materialism
Diane Hennacy Powell - The ESP Enigma
Elisabeth Lloyd Mayer - Extraordinary Knowing
plus one by Chris Carter I forget the title of. All published recently, by academically qualified authors, and welcome signs of a fight-back against the professional sceptics from people who really know what they're talking about.

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