the paranormal: distance to psi and back

…Furthermore, most of us, even if not bored to death by statistics, are apt to look at parapsychology with the prejudices of nineteenth-century mechanistic science. Experimentation in thought transference or precognition is, we assume, a pastime for Victorian parlors, a futile exercise redolent in fraud. But this disjunction is truly ironic, since the idea of the universe as sublimely predictable clockwork is now in tatters. If we dismiss ESP and PK as “contradictory to the laws of physics,” we do so at a time of much uncertainty as to what these laws are, or what law is, and at a time when physics and psychic research seem at some points to be converging.

—Based on the finding of these and 7 other experiments on over 1,000 college undergraduates, Bem concluded his paper with the wish that psychologists would be more open to considering “impossible things” like the ability of the future to influence the present. He was convinced he’s done everything needed to prove things from his end, and the fact that the paper was published in a highly reputable journal would have assured that this was in fact a correctly done experiment.
The scientific world of academic psychology was, to say the least, horrified that such a paper could have been published. Not only did the premise of the study fail to make sense (you should apparently study for a test after taking it),—Read More:

Consider for example, the following brief passage from an essay by J. Robert Oppenheimer:

These two ways of thinking, the way of time and history and the way of eternity and of timelessness, are both part
of man’s effort to comprehend the world in which he lives. Neither is comprehended in the other nor reducible to it.
They are, as we have learned to say in physics, complementary views, each supplementing the other, neither telling the whole story. Let us return to this.

—If you’re one of the many millions of high school and college students who saw this series, you might remember the scene in the Research Methods episode in which Bem “The Magician” correctly “guesses” the card that a subject picks from a small number on a table. Bem pulls up his shirt and dramatically reveals a T-shirt underneath it with the exact same card on its front. Seems like ESP, right? However, as Bem “The Psychologist” reveals, he had a matching item in the room for each of the cards the subject could have picked. He explains: “There was never any possibility that chance was operating. I don’t leave things to chance, but a psychologist with a well-designed experiment, would have ruled out all of these things.”
Did this famous psychologist correctly peer into his own future and see that someday he would be reporting on a study that would eventually fail his own test of scientific rigor? That would indeed be ironic. However, like many psychologists and non-psychologists who are fascinated by the paranormal, it’s just too easy to be misled into falling into the trap of letting our desire to see the future influence our ability to see the data smack dab in front of us.—Read More: image:

Had this been submitted to the general public twenty-five years ago, the odds are that very few people would have identified it as a scientist’s remark. What quaking bogs of Eastern flim-flam, what abandonment of destiny, lay beneath that phrase “the way of eternity and timelessness”? There was only one way, and we had it. It was logical, deterministic, linear, and technological: scientific, in a word.

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