Monday, November 10, 2008

Professor Ray Hyman Skeptical Inquiror Article

Professor Ray Hyman believes that if mainstream science accepted psi was real that it would change science forever. But isn't science about breakthroughs?. Of course it is.

Here's where Hyman makes that clear

The first request is that the scientific community accept the claim that psi is real. The second is that they do so by exempting parapsychologists from the requirement that they provide evidence according to acceptable scientific standards. Both requests amount to changing science as we know it. Obviously, the scientific community will not, and should not, acquiesce to these requests.

Hyman also claims in the article in the skeptical inquiror that some parapsychologists say such as Dick Bierman, Walter Lucadou, J.E. Kennedy, and Robert Jahn, that the evidence for psi is inconsistent, irreproducible, and fails to meet acceptable scientific standards.

Now this is contrary to Bierman's success in replicating the presentiment experiments of Dr Dean Radin (where human reactions seem to occur marginally before an event occurs.

Nevertheless, Hyman's essay is disingenuous at best, if you do a little investigation and pay attention to his choice of ideas. First of all, I've read the papers by Bierman and Kennedy as well as a letter by Kennedy in response to Bierman's paper. In no case do they deny the REALITY of psi, only the ability of the evidence to be replicated based on consistent decline effects. This is due in great part, Kennedy poses, that we're not dealing with chemicals or continents but with thinking, complex human beings with a dizzying range of motivations, beliefs and fears. The concept that emerges should be that we still do not know how to study psi with consistency...YET. But of course Hyman jumps right to his preferred conclusion, which is that psi is nonexistent because of this supposed shortcoming.

Second, we have the cherry picking of experts. What makes Bierman and Kennedy more reliable than Radin and Utts, a professional statistician? Why, they reach the conclusion that support's Hyman's pre-existing bias, of course--that psi is non-replicable and therefore must be bunk. This is to say nothing of the other work out there, such as the experiments by Rupert Sheldrake, that show consistent replication. Those are ignored.

Finally, note how cleverly Hyman jumps to an uncalled for conclusion in order to discredit parapsychology in general. He says that what is implied by the conference is that psi advocates are asking the scientific community to give them a free pass--to set aside experimental rigor for psi as a special case. I have NEVER seen nor heard a parapsychologist express such a thing, just that their work be judged according to the same criteria as other research.

One can only conclude that this is another Hyman hit piece using selective data and questionable conclusions to preach to the CSICOP (excuse me, CSI) choir.

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