The parapsychology (from ancient Greek παρα- para , German , next ' , and ψυχολογία psychológia , German , psychology' ) sees itself as a scientific research sector, which allegedly lying beyond the normal waking consciousness mental skills that exceed the normal cognitive faculties, and their causes as well as a possible life after death .
Although parapsychology has existed as a scientific undertaking for over 120 years, it is generally not recognized by the scientific community as an established science because the number of methodologically verified empirical studies on the alleged paranormal phenomena is too small to introduce new "effects" into the Justify the corpus of recognized scientific facts. The majority of scientists see the existence of such phenomena as unproven and call parapsychology pseudoscience .
The parapsychological experiments used random number generators to attempt to detect extrasensory perception , psychokinesis and precognition . The possibility of extra- sensory perception is examined with sensory deprivation and Ganzfeld experiments . In the United States , these tests have historically played a role in intelligence agencies' efforts to use extrasensory perception for espionage purposes. Parapsychological experiments are only carried out systematically in a few places in the world, such as some universities and privately financed institutes.
The term “parapsychology” was introduced in 1889 by the psychologist Max Dessoir in an article in the theosophical journal Sphinx . Dessoir explained the choice of words as follows: “ If one denotes ... with Para - something that goes beyond or alongside the ordinary, then one can perhaps call the phenomena emerging from the normal course of psychic life parapsychic, the science dealing with them“ parapsychology ”. ... The word is not pretty, but in my opinion it has the advantage of briefly identifying a previously unnamed border area between the average and the abnormal, pathological conditions. “The phenomena located between the pathological states and the normal states of mental life primarily included the phenomena of mesmerism such as hypnosis and animal magnetism . Joseph Banks Rhine picked up the term "parapsychology" in the 1930s as a replacement for the term psychical research to emphasize the emphasis on laboratory research and scientific methodology. Parapsychologists use the Greek letter ψ (= psi), the first letter of the word psyche, to describe the parapsychic phenomena they are tracking down. Since parapsychology deals with occult phenomena that cannot be scientifically explained at first, but scientists avoid the word occult , they use terms such as metapsychology , ASW and parapsychology instead .
The history of parapsychology began in 1862 with the establishment of the Ghost Club in England, which set itself the task of studying ghost apparitions. 20 years later, in 1882, the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) was founded in London. The SPR was the first systematic attempt to bring scientists and scholars together in one organization to ensure critical and sustained research into paranormal phenomena. Early members of the SPR included philosophers, scholars, scientists, educators, and politicians such as Henry Sidgwick , Arthur Balfour , William Crookes , Rufus Osgood Mason, and Charles Richet .
The SPR divided its research subjects into different classes: telepathy , hypnosis , Reichenbach's life force Od , ghost appearances and the parapsychological accompanying phenomena of spiritualism such as table-moving and materializations. One of the first jointly accomplished achievements was the "Survey on hallucinations" ( Census of Hallucinations ), the apparitions and hallucinations studied in healthy subjects. This survey was the SPR's first attempt to use statistical methods to record paranormal phenomena, and the publication Phantasms of the Living , which emerged from it in 1886, is still frequently cited in the parapsychological literature.
The SPR became the model for similar societies in other European countries and in the United States in the late 19th century. The American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) was founded in New York in 1885, primarily at the instigation of William James .
In Germany, Albert Freiherr von Schrenck-Notzing and Carl du Prel founded the Psychological Society in Munich in 1886 . She conducted studies on hypnosis and telekinesis . In particular, the well-documented telekinesis experiments in the 1920s and 1930s at Munich University, which Schrenck-Notzing presented in the presence of doctors and celebrities, made parapsychology known in Germany. In these experiments, the test subjects had to undress and change before the tests in the presence of observers and were often locked in cages and held by their hands and feet during the experiments.
Before unusual effects could be observed, hours of waiting were often preceded, during which the test subjects fell into a deep trance with vivid physical symptoms. The “telekinetic” phenomena then showed up in the form of a music box that began to play by itself and could then be stopped or restarted by the medium at the request of the experimenter. Handkerchiefs floating up were also reported. After such demonstrations, the objects were inspected by the witnesses. Phosphorescent bracelets and luminous dots were attached to the clothing of the medium itself in order to be able to recognize possible attempts at deception even in low light. A special feature of this trance is its erotic component: There were occasional ejaculations of the medium during the trance, which was noticed during the subsequent clothing check. The writer Thomas Mann was a prominent witness at the telekinetic demonstrations of Schrenck-Notzing with the medium Rudi Schneider and processed his experiences in the novel The Magic Mountain .
From 1919, the criminal police used “telepaths” to solve crimes in order to draw conclusions about the possible use of the media in investigative work: “For example, in the summer of 1921 the Frankfurt true dreamer Minna Schmidt made nationwide headlines. In the case of a double murder of two mayors in Heidelberg, she had determined the later location of the corpses ... which became a topic for large feature pages ... “ In the vast majority of cases in which criminal telepaths were used, however, they could not help solve the crime. The parapsychologist Hans Bender also came to the conclusion that the statements made by clairvoyants might be “parapsychologically interesting”, but “useless for the investigation”. It is even “dangerous to the public” when self-proclaimed “occult detectives” get involved.
The French doctor Charles Richet conducted systematic research in the field of parapsychology; above all he examined spiritualistic sessions, but was also the first to introduce the statistical method into parapsychology in 1895. In 1919 the Institut Métapsychique International was founded in France . The first research took place with the medium Franek Kluski , who was said to be able to materialize animals and human forms. In the Netherlands, the Study Association for Psychical Research was founded in 1920 , which from 1921 published the journal Mededeelingen of the Study Association for Psychical Research (MSPR). In 1928 Paul Dietz, Wilhelm Heinrich Carl Tenhaeff and Emil Wegelin founded the independent Tijdschrift voor Parapsychologie (TP).
The JB Rhine era
In 1911, Stanford University became the first academic institution in the United States to study extrasensory cognition and psychokinesis in the laboratory. In 1930 Duke University in Durham became the second major academic institution devoted to laboratory research into extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. Laboratory research on extrasensory perception began under the guidance of psychologist William McDougall and with the help of others, including psychologists Karl Zener , Joseph B. Rhine and Louisa E. Rhine. Volunteer students were used as test subjects. In contrast to the approaches of the SPR and the ASPR, which tried to confirm the existence of paranormal phenomena through qualitative evidence, quantitative methods were used at Duke University. In Zener card tests to prove extrasensory perception and dice attempts to prove psychokinesis, result data were collected, which could then be evaluated with the help of standardized statistical methods. These methods were later adopted by researchers around the world.
Through Rhines book Neuland der Seele ("New Frontiers of the Mind") in 1937, laboratory research in Durham was brought to the general public. Rhine founded an independent parapsychology laboratory within Duke University and launched the Journal of Parapsychology , which he co-edited with William McDougall.
The parapsychological experiments at Duke University met with much criticism from academic psychologists, who attacked the practices and denied the existence of extrasensory perception. Rhine and his colleagues tried to counter the criticism with new methods, experiments and studies. They presented both criticism and their countermeasures in detail in the book Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years . This study contains the first meta-analysis in the history of science, which makes its special value beyond the parapsychological topic. When Rhine retired in 1965, the links between the university and parapsychology were broken, but Rhine later established the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM) and the Institute for Parapsychology as successor institutes to the laboratory at Duke University. In 1995, on the 100th birthday of JB Rhines, the FRNM was renamed the Rhine Research Center . Today the Rhine Research Center is a parapsychological research institute which, according to its own statements, endeavors to sound out the "depth, breadth and possibilities of human consciousness".
In Germany, the biologist and natural philosophy professor Hans Driesch conducted research in the field of parapsychology from 1924, served as President of the Society for Psychical Research from 1926 to 1927 and published a methodology for this area in 1932 ( Parapsychology - The Science of "Occult" Phenomena ).
Increased scientific interest
In Germany, the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Hygiene (IGPP) was founded in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1950 by the parapsychologist Hans Bender . The focus at that time was the research of haunted cases as well as laboratory experiments on extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. Today the institute deals “with the systematic and interdisciplinary research of previously insufficiently understood phenomena and anomalies at the limits of our knowledge. These include changed states of consciousness and areas of experience, psychophysical relationships as well as their social, cultural and historical contexts from the perspectives of the humanities, social and natural sciences. "
The Parapsychological Association (PA) was founded in Durham, North Carolina on June 19, 1957. Their education was stimulated by JB Rhine at a meeting in the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University. Rhine wanted the association to become the germ of an international professional society in parapsychology. According to the statutes, the aim of the association was that “parapsychology should become a science, disseminate new knowledge in its field and link the discoveries with the knowledge of other areas of science”.
In 1969 the Parapsychological Association was incorporated into the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest scientific society in the world. Ten years later, the physicist John A. Wheeler demanded that the AAAS should review the further membership of the Parapsychological Association on the grounds that parapsychology was a pseudoscience. Wheeler failed, however, with his attempt to exclude the Parapsychological Association from the AAAS. Today the Parapsychological Association consists of 109 full members worldwide and is still a member of the AAAS.
The 1970s: Decade of Intensive Research
The association of the Parapsychological Society with the American Association for the Advancement of Science along with a general openness to parapsychological and occult phenomena in the 1970s sparked a decade of intense parapsychological research. From this decade other organizations emerged such as the Academy of Parapsychology and Medicine (1970), the Institute of Parascience (1971), the Academy of Religion and Psychical Research , the Institute of Noetic Sciences (1973), the International Kirlian Research Association (1975) and Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory (1979).
The range of research subjects varied. The psychologist Thelma Moss studied Kirlian photography in the parapsychology laboratory at the University of Los Angeles . Karlis Osis carried out experiments on out-of-body experiences and the physicist Russell Targ coined the term remote viewing for his psi experiments in 1974.
Andreas Resch from Austria became professor for "Clinical Psychology and Paranormology at the Accademia Alfonsiana, Pontifical Lateran University Rome" from 1969. Resch founded the Institute for Frontier Areas of Science (IGW) in Innsbruck in 1980 and tried to develop a new system of research into paranormal effects under the term paranormology .
The lively interest in parapsychological phenomena lasted until the 1980s. In the late 1980s, the Parapsychological Association reported that its members came from more than 30 nations. In addition, parapsychological research was carried out outside the Parapsychological Association in the Eastern Bloc and in the former Soviet Union . The alleged psychokinetic abilities of the medium Nina Kulagina were intensively researched here.
Parapsychology in the present
Compared to the 1970s, parapsychological research has declined considerably worldwide today. On the one hand, quantitative research has failed to produce the evidential value that was expected of it. On the other hand, some apparently paranormal effects, such as Kirlian photography , proved to be scientifically explainable under more stringent test conditions . Many universities closed their parapsychology departments. The only parapsychological chair in Germany at the University of Freiburg was canceled with the death of Johannes Mischo in 2001. In the Netherlands, what was originally the world's first chair for parapsychology at the University of Utrecht, held by Wilhelm Heinrich Carl Tenhaeff , Sybo van Shouten and the physicist Dick Bierman, was closed. The latter currently teaches at the University of Amsterdam. In the United States, psychological research has increasingly been carried out by private institutions outside the university, funded by sponsors and private donors. After 28 years of research, one of the last university-affiliated laboratories, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory (PEAR), closed in 2007 with the retirement of Robert G. Jahn .
The University of Saint Petersburg and two universities in the United States have parapsychological research facilities: the University of Virginia with a department of perceptual studies in the department of psychiatry and the University of Arizona with the Veritas Laboratory . Various private institutions such as the Institute of Noetic Sciences conduct and promote parapsychological research.
In Great Britain, Robert L. Morris at the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh initiated many research projects at various British universities. There is the Parapsychological Research Group at Hope University in Liverpool, the Department of Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology at John Moores University of Liverpool, the Center for the Study of Abnormal Psychological Processes at Northampton University, and the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths College in London.
In Germany parapsychological research is currently next to the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health (ISPP) under the direction of Dieter Vaitl , also by the country Baden-Wuerttemberg funded and Walter von Lucadou conducted parapsychological counseling center operated in Freiburg; the parapsychological counseling center offers counseling for people who claim to have had unusual, paranormal, occult or inexplicable experiences.
Parapsychological research has, to a small extent, absorbed other sub-disciplines of psychology, including anomalistic psychology , which investigates paranormal beliefs and subjective anomalistic experiences using traditional psychological methods.
The research objects of parapsychology include apparently paranormal phenomena such as those that have come from magical and mystical states of consciousness and have been handed down since antiquity and the Middle Ages, e.g. B .:
- Divination: fortune telling and prophecy (see prophecy )
- Telepathy : Transmission of information between people through thoughts or feelings without using any aids of the classical five senses .
- Precognition : Receiving or perceiving information about future events before they occur and without them being extrapolated from the possibilities of the past or present.
- Clairvoyance : Obtaining information about incidents or events in distant places using previously unknown means.
- Psychokinesis and Spooky : The ability to influence material or physical processes using previously unknown means.
- Ghostly apparitions : phenomena that are often associated with ghosts and occur in places that the deceased has visited frequently or in places where the deceased has previously lived.
When investigating apparently paranormal phenomena, under strict experimental conditions, it turns out again and again that these are phenomena that can be explained normally. If parapsychological phenomena cannot be explained, if mass experiments can be carried out, an attempt will be made by means of statistical parapsychology to prove that the phenomena are purely coincidental.
Parapsychologists use qualitative methods as they are also used in traditional psychology and field research (for example the space experiment ), but also quantitative- statistical , empirical methods that are primarily based on the calculation of probability . The more controversial methods include the meta-analyzes for the detection of psi.
The parapsychological counseling center in Freiburg pays special attention to unusual experiences with spooky and poltergeist phenomena. She is consulted by people who experience seemingly inexplicable processes. On-site investigations are intended to determine whether an explanation for the observed phenomena can be found. For example, a “talking kettle” was examined, with the conclusion that a radio transmitter with strong radiation made the metal vibrate and thus speak, similar to a loudspeaker membrane.
The Ganzfeld experiment is an experiment that aims to prove telepathy. In a typical Ganzfeld experiment, there are two test subjects, A and B, who are both spatially separated from one another and shielded from one another. Person A is shielded from environmental stimuli, while person B is shown pictures or short videos. Person B should then “send” this information to person A, who will then present her thoughts aloud. Four images or videos are shown to A for evaluation, one of which is the image or video shown to person B, the other three are used for control. A now tries to identify the correct previously "sent" image or video solely on the basis of the impressions and sensations of the Ganzfeld session.
Parapsychologists such as Dean Radin , Charles Honorton and Daryl J. Bem report that in the Ganzfeld experiments - around 3000 sessions were carried out by around two dozen experimenters around the world - the “recipient” selected the image or video that was previously selected more than average "was sent. Since meta-analyzes, which take into account many Ganzfeld studies, determine a high level of significance for these test series, there were repeated debates in scientific journals as to how these results could be appropriately interpreted.
Remote viewing attempts test the ability to obtain information about a distant object that is inaccessible to the subject's physical perception. For example, the test person tries to describe a photo placed at a distant location; however, there are various methods of analytical evaluation of such experiments. One method is to give seven target photos and seven “answers” of the test subject to an independent third party, who should then determine the correct photo and the correct answer of the test subject.
Hundreds of such experiments have been carried out by researchers at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory (PEAR) and by US government scientists over more than two decades. Robert G. Jahn and Brenda Dunne from the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory see the collected and evaluated results of these tests as an indication that information from distant photos, real landscapes and events was “received” more than average.
Psychokinesis with random generators
The development of powerful and inexpensive electronics and computer technology made fully automatic experiments possible to investigate the possible interactions between consciousness and physical processes. In the usual form of these experiments, a real random number generator (RNG, derived from English Random Number Generator), based on electronic noise or radioactive decay , is used. The data generated are recorded and evaluated by a computer. A test person should try to change the distribution of the random data solely by means of a mental effort during a predetermined test period. Such an experiment corresponds to trying to throw more "numbers" than "heads" when tossing coins, or vice versa.
Larger meta-analyzes of such psychokinesis experiments with random generators have been published every several years since 1986. PEAR founder Robert G. Jahn and his colleague Brenda Dunne claim that the effect size is very small in all experiments, but that it reaches statistical significance regardless of the experimental design used . The meta-analysis was published in the Psychological Bulletin 2006 along with critical comments. This meta-analysis comprised 380 studies and cast doubt on the previously claimed statistical significance.
In attempts to anticipate ( precognition ), a test person is shown calming or exciting images on a screen at random and at irregular intervals. A real random number generator is used for this, which ensures that the performance does not follow any predictable pattern. A probe on the surface of the skin measures the skin resistance, which changes when excited. Both the images in their order and the changes in skin resistance are recorded and evaluated afterwards. In such an experiment it was observed that changes in skin resistance occurred a few seconds before the corresponding images were displayed. The significance value p (the probability that such a result comes about under purely random conditions and is not due to precognitive abilities) was less than 0.001 in this experiment, i.e. less than a thousandth.
Direct mental influence on living beings
Parapsychologists have long believed that a person's mental influence on the thoughts, sensations, or nervous system of another distant person is possible. They use terms such as psychokinesis , "bio-PK" or abbreviations such as "DMILS" ("direct mental interactions with living systems", in German for direct mental influence on living beings ). The first investigations go back to Charles Tart . In 1963, Tart self-inflicted shocks while sympathetic responses were monitored in a test subject in another room. Tart reported "amazing correlations". Elisabeth Targ later tried to reproduce the results. Many DMILS experiments attempt to draw conclusions from the direct comparison of the brain waves ( EEG ) or brain activities of the test subjects. Many different measures have been tried to achieve statistically significant results. For example, the test subjects were exposed to strong stimuli such as flashes of light, because one hoped that these would be more firmly imprinted on the brain than images, films or thoughts. Motivated test persons who were very close were preferred. Good friends or identical twins were also expected to produce positive results. An attempt was also made to attune the test subjects to one another through meditation. Therefore Schlitz, Radin, Targ, Stone and others coined. a. the joking name "Love studies".
Duane and Behrendt described a DMILS experiment with identical twins in Science in 1965, Grinberg-Zylberbaum repeated it in 1993 with flashes of light as a stimulus and Harald Walach , in Freiburg, in 2003 with black and white chessboard patterns. Grindberg-Zylberbaum reported on “simultaneous-specific patterns” in the EEGs of couples who had previously turned inwardly towards each other through common meditation. In similar experiments by M. Kittenis in 2004 , the only people who showed no synchronization whatsoever in the EEG are said to have been those without a partner relationship. Further DMILS experiments were carried out by DI Radin in 2004 , as well as by M.Yamamoto in 1996 with Qigong masters.
Grindberg-Zylberbaum tried to demonstrate synchronization between the test subjects by demonstrating local brain activity. Similarly, LJ Standish in 2003 and T. Richards in 2005 at Bastyr University experimented . They worked with 30 close couples who had meditation experience. M. Kittenis also rated her attempts from 2004 as successful. In principle, in these qualitative DMILS experiments, the parapsychologists do not make the requirement that a statistically significant number of subjects show measurable similarities; A single test person is sufficient for the evaluation as a success, who shows several simultaneous effects that the parapsychologists cannot explain otherwise. There are therefore no meta-studies, but there are many repetitions according to the boundary conditions described above (Standish, Kittenis, Walach, etc.). However, in studies by Wolfgang Ambach from 2008, at least with regard to the checkerboard pattern, the effect found by Grinberg could not be confirmed.
Another variation on DMILS tests examines the feeling of being stared at from behind. Person A and person B are in separate rooms, and person A is asked at irregular intervals to "stare" at person B on a screen. Meanwhile, the reactions of the autonomic nervous system in person B are measured and recorded.
A meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Psychology in 2004 showed a small but significant overall DMILS effect. However, it was also critically stated that the effect size falls below the limit of significance if only a small number of the best quality studies from a single laboratory are evaluated. The authors conclude that although the possibility of an anomaly with regard to remote acts of consciousness cannot be ruled out, the number of independent repeat studies and theoretical models to explain these effects is too small.
Theories and models
Various theories and models try to explain psi phenomena in the context of already known and expanded theories.
Walter von Lucadou proposed the model of pragmatic information for the explanation of spooky and poltergeist phenomena, which assumes an “organized cohesion” of human consciousness with objects in its environment, in which the existing tensions are then “discharged unconsciously in the form of spooky” ". Harald Atmanspacher, Hartmann Römer and Harald Walach have further developed this model into generalized quantum theory (weak quantum theory), which also aims to explain transpersonal phenomena and psi effects using the space and timelessness of quantum effects ( non-locality ) known from quantum physics .
The biologist Volker Guiard criticized Walter von Lucadou's model of pragmatic information for explaining haunted cases mainly because of its inaccuracy. It does make statements about the occurrence and disappearance of paranormal phenomena, but this is still linked to the fact that these phenomena are beyond the researcher's reach. And under these conditions it is difficult to provide any evidence for the existence of such phenomena.
Further theories describe a supra-physical reality in which our space-time reality with its physical types of energy is embedded. Examples are the 12-dimensional theories of Burkhard Heim and Klaus Volkamer . Doubts or mistakes in these theories lead to them being ignored by the sciences. It is similar to the supra-physical theory of JH Matthaei, which describes 12 additional types of energy with their supra-physical properties. There is no such thing as “psi” in any of these theories, but in the opinion of their authors they provide more sound explanatory frameworks for the nonlocal and non-temporal parapsychological effects than the standard physical theory.
Many observers of parapsychology complain about the poor quality of the parapsychological results and the inadequate control conditions. In their view, the whole field of research in parapsychology has not produced conclusive results. They cite evidence of fraud, flawed studies, magical thinking, and a one-sided view to explain parapsychological findings to support their assessment.
The existence of parapsychological phenomena is the subject of regular debates to this day. In particular, it is criticized that parapsychology has no clearly defined subject area, cannot provide reproducible experiments by means of which the postulated psi effects could be demonstrated at any time, nor has developed a theoretical foundation that could explain the effects. Psychologist James E. Alcock writes that few parapsychological findings have stimulated interdisciplinary research involving physics or biology. Alcock states that parapsychology is so isolated among the sciences that its legitimacy is questionable and as a whole cannot be called "scientific".
As in other research areas, there is evidence of fraud and forgery in the history of parapsychology. But the connection between psi and fraud in particular is widespread in scientific consciousness. The director of the Rhine Research Center, John Palmer, wrote: “ Fraud in parapsychology experiments is the most critical and important factor damaging the reputation of parapsychology and delaying its development. "
The Soal-Goldney experiment from 1941 to 1943, which purported to have demonstrated precognitive abilities in test subjects, has long been considered one of the best studies in the field because it relied on independent control and independent witnesses. However, suspicions of fraud were confirmed many years later when it was revealed that Soal had falsified the raw data of the experiment.
Many media outlets used fraudulent elements and were able to use them early on through skeptics such as B. Richard Hodgson and Harry Price are exposed. In the 1920s, stage wizard and escape artist Harry Houdini commented that the experimental setups used were not absolutely fraud-proof. The stage magician Allan (1909–1990) exposed spiritistic swindles, deceptive "telekinesis", cardsharps and "clairvoyants". After 1945 he was an assessor for cheating .
In 1979, the stage magician James Randi initiated an unmasking campaign that later became known as Project Alpha . Randi trained two young magicians and sent them incognito to the McDonnell Laboratory at the University of Washington with the aim of exposing poor experimental methods and the careless confidence in parapsychology. Although the McDonnell Laboratory made no public statement that the effects demonstrated by the two camouflaged magicians were authentic, the investigators deceived them for four years with supposed telekinetic spoon bending. This experiment has been cited as an argument that most, if not all, of the unusual results of experiments in parapsychology are due to errors or fraud.
Critique of the experimental results
Reviewers criticize the fact that apparently successful test results in psi research are based more on inaccurate test procedures, poorly trained researchers and methodological errors than on real psi effects. Statistics professor Jessica Utts and psychologist Ray Hyman questioned the results data from the PEAR laboratory . Utts found that these attempts suffered from a variety of problems with randomization, statistical control data, and the application of statistical models. Because of the deficits in the test arrangements and the statistical evaluation methods, the published significance values are worthless.
Psi is a negative term, that is, the usual procedure for gaining evidence for parapsychological phenomena is based on the statistical deviation from the mean random value. The critical point, however, is that statistical deviation from the mean random value is, strictly speaking, only evidence of a statistical anomaly, or an indication that some unknown variable caused the observed mean deviation. But with this no positive statement can be made about Psi. So Psi represents an empty shell, which actually only describes that the data of an experiment with the known variables cannot be explained 100 percent. Hyman goes further and concludes that even if parapsychological research is able to produce a significant, reproducible effect, it is still far from the conclusion that psi effects are finally proven. For these reasons, some scholars refer to parapsychology as pseudoscience.
Bias and Meta-Analysis
Selected reporting (English " selection bias " or "selective reporting") is given by critics as an explanation for the positive results of parapsychology. Selective publishing means that only positive studies are published, while negative studies or insignificant results are not made public. Selective publishing has a significant influence on meta-analyzes, which are a statistical method to summarize the results of many studies and to determine an overall significance that can be greater than that of individual studies. However, if the negative and insignificant studies do not appear in such a meta-analysis, the overall result will be positively distorted in the end and then lead to wrong conclusions. As an example: The meta-analysis of psychokinesis trials combined the results of 380 studies including data from the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research laboratory. Using another method of effect size calculation, it turned out that the positive overall significance of these entire studies is canceled out by only a few additional negative studies, which raises the suspicion of selective publication as the cause of the positive overall result.
The popularity of meta-analyzes has been criticized by numerous scientists and calls into question the results of parapsychology. Critics accuse parapsychology of misusing meta-analyzes in order to create the false impression that the statistical significance has already been used to prove psi phenomena. Similar problems with meta-analyzes have also been observed in medicine. Jim E. Kennedy wrote that concerns about the use of meta-analyzes in science and medicine add to the problems in parapsychology. Post-hoc analyzes, i.e. H. Evaluations in which the evaluation procedures are determined after the end of the experiments can give a false impression if they are not used to find hypotheses, but rather show psi effects afterwards.
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