…The territory was so new that J.B. Rhine and Louisa Rhines’ first experiment got the very categories of telepathy and clairvoyance scrambled. Both experimental situations involved the Rhine cards, printed with the now familiar suits of star, rectangle, circle, cross, and wavy line. In testing for telepathy, the sender looked at a card while the receiver tried to pick up the image of the configuration that was in the sender’s mind. In the clairvoyance tests, neither the receiver nor the card dealer saw the symbols on the cards; the cards were simply laid face down on a table. As Rhine ruefully noted eighteen years later in The Reach of the Mind:
The simple truth is, we discovered in 1930 that the “telepathy tests” actually did not test telepathy…There was no way of telling to what extent the subject had drawn upon the sender’s thought of the object, and to what extent he had depended upon direct clairvoyant perception of it.
The solution to the telepathy tests was finally found when Rhine directed his senders to merely think of a card and introduced various systems for “randomizing” his choices. But the investigation of ESP has always been troubled by such problems of definition and categorization. Can one ever be sure that one psi effect is not skewed by another? Indeed, one cannot; and it is hard to set up experiments that effectively sift influences when not all the parameters are known.
Still, after millions of dice went rattling down corrugated shoots at Duke, the Rhines had overwhelming statistical evidence showing that the human will can affect the behavior of dice. They could not help concluding that psychokinesis was a demonstrable force: weak and erratic in its actions, imperfectly predictable, yet defeating chance by odds of thousands to one.
The problem then, is to narrow the variables. And yet, not even the subjects perform consistently; experiment, the Rhines found, wore out the very powers it was meant to quantify. We murder to dissect. Hence, two unpopular facets of psi research: the extreme slowness and modesty of its experimental input, and the stupefying mounds of statistics about dice and cards that come out the other end. Compared to the perverse glamor of quantum physics, parapsychology appears as a computerized bore to the general public. ( to be continued)…
(see link at end)…Parapsychology, unlike the other sciences, has a shifting database. Experimental data that one generation puts forth as rock-solid evidence for psi is discarded by later generations in favor of new data. When the Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882, its first president Henry Sidgwick, pointed to the experiments with the Creery sisters as the evidence that should convince even the most hardened skeptic of the reality of psi. Soon, he and the other members of the Society argued that the data from Smith-Blackburn experiments provided the fraud-proof case for the reality of telepathy. The next generation of psychical researchers, however, cast aside these cases as defective and we no longer hear about them. Instead, they turned to new data to argue their case.
During the 1930s and 1940s, the results of Rhine’s card guessing experiments were offered as the solid evidence for the reality of psi. The next generation dropped Rhine’s data as being flawed and difficult to replicate and it hailed the Soal-Goldney experiments as the replicable and rock-solid basis for the existence of telepathy. Next came the Sheep-Goat experiments. Today, the Rhine data, the Sheep-Goats experiments, and the Soal-Goldney experiments no longer are used to argue the case for psi. Contemporary parapsychologists, instead, point to the ganzfeld experiments, the random-number generator experiments, and–with the declassifying of the SAIC exments–the remote viewing experiments as their basis for insisting that psi exists.
Professor Utts uses the ganzfeld data and the SAIC remote viewing results to assert that the existence of anomalous cognition has been proven. She does not completely discard earlier data. She cites meta-analyses of some of the earlier parapsychology experiments. Still, the cumulative database for anomalous mental phenomena does not exist. Most of the data accumulated by previous investigators has been discarded. In most cases the data have been discarded for good reasons. They were subsequently discovered to be seriously flawed in one or more ways that was not recognized by the original investigators. Yet, at the time they were part of the database, the parapsychologists were certain that they offered incontestable evidence for the reality of psi.Read More:http://www.ics.uci.edu/~jutts/hyman.html