The parapsychology is the multi-field study by means of the Experimental method of phenomena which would bring into play psychism and its interaction with the environment. These phenomena are called phenomena Psi. The founder of this discipline is Joseph Banks Rhine. Parapsychology succeeded historically the Métapsychique, which studied the sleepwalking and médiums at the 19th century.
Parapsychology tries to establish the existence of Psi scientifically. The phenomena psi are generally classified in two main categories:
- the Psychokinèse (km No): Macro-km No (on objects of “normal” size), microphone-km No (at the quantum level), bio-km No (on living organisms).
Parapsychology is generally regarded in the scientific circles as a Pseudo-science because of its incapacity to prove the existence of its object of study, Psi. Research in parapsychology is mainly criticized, not to say demystified, by the scientists concerned with the scientific Scepticisme. The skeptics primarily reproach the parapsychologists not “for giving its chance to the assumption HO”. They agree to call in question of the points of theory, but never their starting postulate, which is the existence of Psi, posed a priori . The Psychologue James Alcock indexes the main arguments skeptics against the existence of Psi.
Contrary, the Ethnopsychiatrie (named sometimes also Ethnopsychanalyse) or the psychology of the unusual experiments is two disciplines which study the allegedly paranormaux phenomena from the psychological point of view, sociological or ethnological, without reference to Psi.
Researchers in Parapsychology
The term of parapsychologist generally refers to a researcher having a diploma of psychology, although scientists of very diverse origins (physicists, doctors, biologists…) in come to specialize in this field. Certain countries, such as the United Kingdom, set up of the diploma of State relating specifically to parapsychology. Almost the whole of the parapsychologists are members of a specific scientific association, Parapsychological Association (PA) organization member of AAAS. Conditions to become " Full member" of this association are the following ones: to hold a doctorate, to have published an article treating of parapsychlogy recognized by the members of association as being of good quality and having been published in a scientific newspaper or deserving it, and to be co-opted by two members of association. These criteria are for example nearly identical to those of American Psychological Association.
From this point of view, nothing distinguishes the researcher in parapsychology from a researcher in any other sphere of scientific activity. It is besides the opinion of the skeptic Ray Hyman: " The majority of the experimental parapsychologists have university degrees (...) They were formed to use same statistical controls experimental and technical typical of the investigation scientifique."
The number of members of Pa has seemed relatively stable for several years, with approximately a hundred " Full Member". If one included the various categories of member of Pa one can count that approximately 200 researchers work in the field of parapsychology throughout the world, of which a quarter carries out research within official structures full-time. There exists approximately a university score of laboratories working on parapsychology. The majority are located in Great Britain.
Here are some examples:
Koestler Parapsychology Links (KPU) university of Edinburgh,
- the department of parapsychology of the university of Northampton in England
- the pulpit of parapsychology of the university of Utrecht in Holland,
- the department of parapsychology of the university of Lund in Sweden,
- Perrott-Warrick Research Unit department of psychology of the university of Herfordshire,
- Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit Goldsmith University of London,
- Princeton Engineering Research Anomalies (PEAR) of the Université of Princeton but is not currently any more under operation,
Results and assumptions of parapsychology
The experiments carried out by the parapsychologists highlighted effects. These effects have sizes relatively weak what implies the need for study with a strong statistical power. However, the interpretation of these effects is the object of debates within the parapsychologic community. At present it is difficult to determine if these results are the fruit of subtle artefacts or the description of unknown interactions. The main difficulty comes owing to the fact that to suppose that these interactions exist, it does not exist demonstration on the physical and biological level their mechanisms. However, already carried out work makes it possible to arrive at a certain number of observations:
If perceptions exist, they do not rest on a physical channel such as electromagnetic waves, ultrasounds, etc… Experiments with Faraday screen rooms, or distance from thousands of km, had positive tests.
- These perceptions seem independent of the distance and time. There N is no difference between the effects by précognition or perspicacity.
- the results vary from one subject to another and test to another, which involves a non-reproductiblity in a strict sense. However, there exists, as in any social science, a statistical reproducibility which can be highlighted in the Méta-analyzes. These effects are thus not impossible to reproduce, they require specific parameters.
- the majority of the experiments psi highlight an effect of decline: the successes are more important at the beginning than in the middle of the test, and sometimes go up towards the end (the famous curve out of U). This effect, observable in experiments of traditional cognitive psychology, could come from tiredness and the lassitude of the subjects,
- Quelquefois, one obtains psi-missing , i.e. results with the tests significantly much lower than those envisaged by the chance (as if the subjects “voluntarily missed”). It is possible to envisage before the course of an assumption this type of effects at the subjects which do not believe in the existence of these experiments.
- the phenomena of RSPK seem to be focused around an individual (often a suffering young person of psychological problems), and/or certain objects
- the extent of effects km No does not depend on complexity of the experimental device.
The work carried out in the field of experimental parapsychology can be classified in two main categories:
élitistes work relates to research carrying on “endowed” subjects, called also “prone psi”. The work carried out in this field, within controlled frameworks, has as an ambition to avoid any interference in the experimental protocol, like the cold Lecture and the effects Barnum in the field of sensory extra perceptions. For the Psychokinèse, the devices set up are generally more complex. Indeed, of many examples of “cheating” were met at the subjects, the latter using of the techniques borrowed from the It.
- work universalists was developed mainly at the university of Duke by Joseph Banks Rhine, in the prolongation of work of Charles Richet. The purpose of they are the description of psi effects at not selected individuals. These experiments require a very significant number of tests, because the required phenomena appear with a very weak frequency. One can in particular quote the Ganzfeld protocol or work of microphone-km No of Helmut Schmidt. It is at present the approach which is privileged within the laboratories of parapsychology.
ValidityParapsychology is a field of study particularly discussed. The existence even of its subject of study is not proven and is regularly called in question. So certain observers consider that work in this field made it possible to differently highlight unexplainable phenomena than by the psi, others dispute these analyzes and call into question the scientific statute of parapsychology. Indeed, this discipline is confronted with major criticisms:
Parapsychology and fraud
The question of the fraud is source of many debates. One can first of all notice that there exist several historical examples of fraud in parapsychology. At the 19th century, for example, whereas the debate made rage in connection with the Spiritisme and of the existence of the spirits, the It Harry Houdini was a critic of certain médiums. He denounced the tricks of it used by the spiritistic Médium S in order to make believe that they were able to communicate with deaths. But it should be noticed that the parapsychologists and the metapsychists them also carried out this work of explanation and description of various processes charalatanesques. Certain famous conjurer, such as for example Robert Houdin, were not besides in measurement, in certain meetings, to explain the phenomena observed
Fraud of the subjects
He can exist two types of frauds in parapsychology: the first is that coming from studied subjects, the second is that of data deteriorated by the parapsychologists themselves. With regard to the first category, it is essential, when one studies a gifted subject allegedly for the psi, to have a it to minimize a maximum the risk of cheatings. Various works propose councils to prevent this kind of frauds, such as for example the work of Richard Wiseman and Robert L. Morris Guidelines for testing psychic claimants .
One will be able to also notice the difficulty in working with subjects in the field of psychokinèse, like Uri Geller, having knowledge in conjuring. This last was in particular criticized by James Randi. An experiment, published in the nature magazine, was the occasion besides many debates.
Fraud of the experimenters
The cases of fraud on behalf of experimenters in parapsychology are rare. It is possible to quote two of them:
the business Walter J. Levy, raises of Rhine. In this case, it is the team of the laboratory of parapsychology of the university of Duke, which by checking the data, realized of an inconsistency in those coming from Levy. Levy, under the pressure of Rhine, acknowledged to have cheated. Rhine off published in the Newspaper Parapsychology this discovery and all the publications of Levy were thus judged by the parapsychologists like inadmissible.
the business Samuel Soal.
Harvey J. Irwin and Caroline A. Watt indicates for their part that no study shows that there is more fraud in parapsychology that in the other disciplines.
Charles Edward Mark Hansel proposes of another examples of fraud on behalf of researchers in parapsychology in his work ESP: In Scientific Evaluation. Hansel, just like Randi, are criticized by certain scientists concerning the coherence of criticisms.
Charles Tart claims that certain skeptics, not finding any skew in the protocols of parapsychology, call upon a fraud on behalf of the experimenters, defrauds which was not highlighted. One can quote several examples:
James Randi in connection with the experiments of Rupert Sheldrake with the Jaytee dog. Randi affirmed to have analyzed the data and to have discovered skews. Actually, Randi finished by solicitor whom he had actually never consulted the data
Hansel in connection with the experiments of Rhine and the Pearce-Pratt Meeting. Not finding skew in these experiments, Hansel consulted plans of the laboratory which could according to him allow a fraud. However the consulted plans were not good time. If one refers in the real plans, the criticism of Hansel is incoherent. In spite of the knowledge of this error, Hansel never reconsidered its position.
Henri Broch in connection with the experiments of Rhine. Henri Broch affirms that the results of the experiments of Rhine come in particular from the back of the charts which can comprise certain imperfections. However, in the majority of the searchs for Rhine, the subjects did not see the back of the charts.
According to a certain number of parapsycholgues, the skeptics diffuse false skew médiatiquement in order to discredit research in parapsychology.
In addition to the voluntary fraud, it can exist involuntary errors, as in any scientific discipline, coming from the convictions of the experimenters. One speaks then about Rosenthal effect.
The problem of reproducibility
Drawer effectIt is about the principal reproach against parapsychology. The low level of reproducibility of the experiments as well as the variability of the results according to the experimenters are pointed finger by the skeptics, qualifying the discipline of Pseudo-science. Indeed, the principle of reproducibility is generally regarded as an essential characteristic of an applied science. The parapsychologists try to solve this problem by seeking explanations to the failures of reproducibility (sheep-goat effect, experimentative effect…) and by using methods such as the méta-analyzes, borrowed from the social sciences. The observers skeptics consider for their part which the difficulties of reproduction of the significant results by other researchers are a proof that the psi does not exist and that the positive tests are due to experimental skews.
Criticisms of parapsychology often mention the existence of a " effect; tiroir" (or in English filedrawer effect ) in parapsychology. The Drawer Effect is a Biais of publication, which exists in all the fields of the science, but which plays full in parapsychology: the reviews tend much more to publish research having positive tests that research having negative results. The result of this skew of publication is that by reading the literature the reader with the impression that the results are in favors of an assumption (in parapsychology, the assumption of the existence of the psi), whereas if all research were published it could note that on average the results are in discredit of the assumption.
Henri Broch, as well as other authors, for this reason criticized the Méta-analyzes S. the result of méta-analyzes depends obviously on the studies which are include in this one. If there is an important skew of publication, then inevitably the result of méta-analyzes will be skewed. It should however be stressed that this is not the only reason for which the skeptics criticize the use of the méta-analyzes, and this whatever the field (as well parapsychology as medicine to quote only another example of scientific discipline where méta-analyzes is used).
Because of these critics skeptics, the parapsychologists took the party to publish all undertaken research, which it consolidates their theoretical hopes or serve them. For example one of the French publications on this subject, realized by the International Métapsychique Institute and of the Toulouse statisticians was the subject of a publication in spite of disappointing results. Nevertheless, by definition, it is impossible to know so really the parapsychologists publish all undertaken research, and the skeptics suppose that despite everything, still today, the parapsychologists tend not all to publish (for example experiments undertaken by students within the framework of their master's paper, if the results obtained are negative). One can only hope that a maximum of research are published (positive like negative), in order to avoid a maximum this Biais of publication.
The problem of the theoryThere currently does not exist of unanimously accepted scientific theory making it possible to explain the results obtained by the parapsychologists. There exist however “models of comprehension” making it possible to determine which are the parameters making it possible to obtain psi effects (better results at the subjects bound affectivement, importance of certain psychological natures, etc) and of the drafts of descriptive theories like the model of pragmatic information (Lucadou, 1987). The journalist Lynne Mc Taggart in his investigation the informed universe (ARIANE, 2006) recalls the adventure of research which tends to draw a new scientific paradigm on a universe in interrelationship where the spirit and the human body are bathed and connected by a “field of energy”. These theories do not make either consensus, in particular concerning the fact that they contradict or not the current theories in contemporary physics. Certain skeptics authors think that these theories are not reconcilable with the classical theories while other researchers (one can quote in particular Werner Heisenberg, the Nobel Prize of physics Brian Josephson, Remy Chauvin, or French Olivier Costa de Beauregard, researcher in quantum physics) think that the theories of the psi do not invalidate the contemporary models of physique, but that they supplement them. At the theoretical level, the skeptics generally criticize the fact that the “support” of information and a possible “receiving” body was not highlighted. For the parapsychologists, the psi effects do not function according to the same methods as the other physical phenomena, and consequently to speak about information support and receiving body is unsuited.
Anomality and causalityThe experiments of parapsychology try to highlight anomalous statistical deviations related to a parameter of the experiment (for example rate of success that the subjects has to guess the color of a chart according to this color) but, a correlation does not imply that the bond is the psi. That can be with hidden parameters of the experiment.
Lack of meansThe research carried out in the field of parapsychology since nearly one century was carried out with the same means as those reserved for the American departments of psychology for two months. That makes it possible to partly explain the reason for which the parapsychologists have great difficulties in set up research. It is necessary to add to that the low number of full-time researchers working in this field. Another explanatory factor of the lack of rise of parapsychology is the difficulty in retorting the experiments for the reasons called upon previously. Lastly, one can mention the fact that it is very often badly seen in the academic world to work on the related questions with parapsychology. It is generally a critical approach which is favoured and work trying to highlight the phenomena are often difficult to set up.
See also: Project Alpha
Parapsychology is largely discussed in the scientific community and by the skeptics (or in France holding them of the Zététique):
It is firstly disputed because of its incapacity to prove in an indubitable way the existence of its object of study (the Psi).
- One then also generally reproaches him the weakness of its experimental protocols and the lack of rigor of the Parapsychologue S, which draw the hazardous conclusions compared to the results of the experiments.
- Another criticism major of parapsychology that it is forever successful to produce an experiment which is réplicable by all (that the researcher is a believer or a skeptic) with constant results.
- Another reproach traditional is that it is about a field of research largely invades by the Fraude, the researchers falsifying their results.
- One also often speaks in the literature skeptic about the “drawer effect”, which would be a skew of publications (a researcher tending to publish experiments having obtained positive tests but to leave those having obtained negative results “in the drawer of its office”, which gives a bad perception of the actual position of research when one reads the whole of the literature published).
- Lastly, parapsychology is characterized by very a small number of researchers. When a review of parapsychology is opened, the same names return, of numbers in numbers. This irrefutable fact is not a good thing for a critical second reading of the articles: indeed, the small number of researchers publishing in the reviews of parapsychology are also the same ones which belong to the reading panels of these reviews.
Parapsychology is often described as Pseudo-science for these various reasons.
Potential applications of parapsychology
In the field of archeologyThere exists a certain number of work of archeology, and archaeological discoveries, which were carried out with the assistance of subjects psi. One can in particular quote work of Stephan Schwartz the purpose of which is mainly to determine places of excavation thanks to the crossing of information given by subjects psi. However, it will be noticed that it is often difficult precisely up to what point to determine the information suggested by the subjects psi made it possible to make discoveries.
In the field of the informationThe most known work on the subject is those carried out under the aegis of the the CIA, whose last code name was “Stargate”. During nearly 20 years, a program secret signal was directed by the CIA and implying a group of subjects psi selected in trained for applications in the field of the information. The supposed subject the most gifted being in this team, Joe McMoneagle, received the cross of the merit for its work. The CIA required of two observers, Ray Hyman and Jessica Utts, to judge the results of this work. Their divergent opinion. Their reports/ratios are consultable in lines.
In the field of the search for missing peopleThere does not exist at present of reliable study of great width on the subject. There exists however a certain number of publications relating to people found with the assistance, even sometimes only, the information given by subjects psi. However, as usual in this research field, the divergent opinion. For some, the fact that the subjects always do not obtain results is sufficient for strongly criticizing this type of application. It was in particular the case in a Belgian business.
The situation in France
The principal research organization on the subject is international the Métapsychique Institute, recognized foundation of public utility in 1921. Under its aegis the Reunion Project concerning telepathy between the participants in two Groupe S was held separated phonically and visually. This project was carried out with the participation of several Toulouse statisticians belonging to the University of Social sciences, the Université Paul Sabatier and INRA.
The Group of Experimental Studies of the Phenomena Parapsychologiques (GEEP) like the " Review of Psychotronique" be also interested in the subject.
The laboratory of Zététique of Henri Broch, for its part proposes an approach skeptic of these Phénomène S, i.e. he seeks, without “A priori” and with rigor, to study the “paranormaux” phenomena and in particular the phenomena psi.
- Dean Skinflint. Invisible conscience, ED Presses of Châtelet, 2000. Count all the projections of research in parapsychology.
- Broughton R.S., Parapsychology, a discussed science. ED of the Rock, 1995
- Lucadou (von), Walter. The Model off Pragmatic Information. Proceedings off the 30th Parapsychological Association Convention, 1987.
- Lucadou (von), Walter. The Endo-Exo-Prospect Heaven and Hell off Parapsychology. Proceedings off the 37th Parapsychological Association Convention, 1994.
- Micrometer caliper, Extrasensory Perception, Advances in Parapsychological research, vol.2 (New York: Plenum, 1978, p.59-243
- Yves Lignon, When science meet the strange one, study on the great cases of phenomena parapsychologic by a mathematician-statistician, Editions 3 Orange trees, 2004
- Morisson J., the Conspicuous one and scientists, state of science as regards research on lapa parapsychology (Editions 3 Orange trees, 2005)
- Bertrand Méheust, 100 words to include/understand clairvoyance , 2005, the hinderers to think in round, 450 pages
- the paranormal of my eyes considering… , RANKY, Editions Trajectory, April 2006
- Parapsychology: reality or phantasm? , Jean MOISSET, ED. JMG Editions, 1998
- Under the direction of Bernadette BENSAUDE-VINCENT and Christine BLONDEL, of the scientists vis-a-vis occult the , Editions the Discovery, ISBN 2-7071-3616- January 6th, th and th 2002
- Magic, sorcery, parapsychology Scientific department Herve HASQUIN, ED. university of Brussels - 1984,237 pp.
- Pascal Forget, Y do you believe? , Stanké, Montreal, 1999.
- Ernesto de Martino, the magic world , translated from Italian by Marc Baudoux, coll hinderers to think in round, Institute of Sanofi-Synthélabo edition, Paris, 1999.
- the scientific thought and parasciences, Conference of the Villette, 24 February 25th, 1993, ED. Albin Michel, 1993, ISBN: 2-226-06464.
Henri Broch, In the middle of Extraordinary the , 2002.
- Henri Broch, Paranormal , Threshold, Paris, 1989
- James Alcock, Parapsychology: science or magic? , Flammarion, Paris, 1989.
- Marc Hallet, parallel sciences , Spaces of freedom, Brussels, 1992.
- Michel de Pracontal, scientific imposture in 10 lessons , Editions of the third millennium Science and company, Editions of the Discovery, 2001. ISBN: 2-7071-3293-4.
- Alcock, J.E. Give the No Hypothesis has Chance. Newspaper off Consciousness Studies , 10,6-7, 2003, p. 29-50.
- Susan Blackmore, In search off the light: The Adventures off has Parapsychologist . New York, Prometheus Books, 1986.
- Hansel, E.C. Mr. The search for psychic power: ESP and Parapsychology revisited. New York: Prometheus Books, 1989.
- Kurtz, P. has Skeptic' S Handbook Parapsychology off. New York: Prometheus Books, 1985.
- Sargent, Carl L. Extraversion and Performance in “Extrasensory” Perception Task, Personnality and Individual Differences , 1981, n°2, p.137-143
- Wiseman, R., & Morris, R.L. Guidelines for testing psychic claimants. New York: Pormetheus Books, 1995.
- James Randi. The Magic off Uri To freeze , 1982, ISBN 0-345-24796-5 (Republication: The Truth Uri Butt To freeze ISBN 0-87975-199-1)
- Re-examined parapsychologies
- extraterrestrial Assumption with the second degree
- Movement contemporary skeptic
representations with the cinema of entertainment: Ghostbusters and Carrie film adapted of a novel of Stephen King.
- Parapsychology: the researchers speak
- the Observatory Zététique
|Random links:||Calixte III (antipape) | Paul Creton | Fur (film) | Drojki | Toxochelys | 557|