Anomalistic Psychology


Anomalistic Psychology


Scientific Fraud

Ganzfield study




Parapsychology and anomalistic psychology

  • Many parapsychologists assume that paranormal forces exist
  • Many believe they should now focus on how not if paranormal forces operate
  • Critics of parapsychology, such an anomalistic psychologists, remain unconvinced
  • They investigate alternative explanations for evidence for psi
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What is pseduoscience?

  •  Tendency to invoke ad hoc hypotheses
  •  Absence of self-correction --- intellectual stagnation
  •  Empahsis on confirmation rather than refutation
  •  Tendency to place the burden of proof on sceptics
  • Excessive reliance on anecdotal evidence
  •  Evasion of the scrutiny afforded by peer review
  • Absence of 'connectivity' with other areas of science
  •  Use of impressive sounding jargon
  •  Absence of boundary conditions
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The scientific status of parapsychology

  • Parapsychology meets the criteria of science better than those of pseduoscience (Mousseau 2003)
  • Parapsychology, at its best, is a true science
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Fraud in parapsychology

  •  Fraud in all areas of science (Broad & Wade 1982)
  • May remain undetected if underlying theory correct
  • Pressure to publish may motivate fraud
  • Famous cases in  parapsychology: Soal; Levy
  • Trickery by Victorian mediums and 'mini Gellers' 
  • Scientists would benefit from advice of skilled conjurors to expose fake physics Project Alpha (Randi 1983a, 1983b)
  • Bravery of whistle-blowers (Blackmore 1987a, 1996a)
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Evaluation of issues of pseudoscience and scientif

  • Pseudoscience - a grey area
  • The scientific status of parapsychology
  • Impact of fraud in parapsychology and in science generally
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Controversies relating to ganzfeld studies of ESP

Ganzfeld technique tests for telepathy

  • Above chance 'hit rates' claimed (Honorton, 1978)
  • Hyman's challenge (1985)
  • Meta-analyses of ganzfeld studies are controversial

Psychokinesis: macro-PK and micro-PK

  • No compelling evidence for macro-PK 
  • REGs used to test micro-PK (Schmidt, 1973)
  • Conflicting results from meta-analyses of PK studies
  • Publication bias and different sample sizes responsible?

Evaluation of issues relating to ganzfeld studies of ESP and psychokinesis

  • Disagreement over ganzfeld of ESP
  • Disagreement over studiesof psychokinesis (PK)
  • Experimenter effects in parapsychology
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Factors underlying anomalous experience

Research into cognitive factors:

  • Cognitive biases and faulty reasoning (e.g. syllogisitc)
  • Much research by sceptical anomalistic psychologists

Research into personality factors:

  • Schizotypy, manic deptression, dissociation and fantasy proneness
  • Correlation with susceptibilty to false memories

Research into biological factors:

  • Role of temporal lobe activity in OBE's and NDE's
  • Association with sleep paralysis

Evaluation of issues relating to ganzfeld studies of ESP and psychokinesis:

  • Pyschological profile of typical paranormal believers
  • Implications for the psi hypothesis
  • Cause or effect
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Functions of paranoral and related beliefs

  • Functional significance of paranormal beliefs
  • Cultural significance of paranormal beliefs

Evaluation of research:

  • Paranormal belief and lack of control
  • Paranormal belief and childhood trauma
  • Reciprocal relationship between paranormal belief and culture
  • Positive aspects of paranormal and related beliefs
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