Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by Admin on Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:04 am

One of the biggest problems we have always faced is the number of Sceptics who have closed minds and cannot even consider that there may be anything behind what they now choose to call Anomalous Psychology. I subscribe to the news link of Professor Chris French from Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London and I think he is fairly typical of this approach. Obviously a direct predecessor was Eleanor Mildred Sidgwick, one of the founders of the Society of Psychical Research, who was the most dismissive member of all phenomena in this organisation.

It is the attitude and approach of these that stops many people within the movement, particularly psychics and mediums, from re engaging with researchers, except those known to be more sympathetic. Sadly this just allows the Sceptics to dismiss any of the findings because of bias. Then recently I was in the loop of correspondence about these particular sceptics and the way that they have, through history, distorted facts and made claims which are incapable of substantiation.

My Google search today brought me to the same conclusion with references to a book released last year by a phd student Chris Carter Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics. there is an interview with Chris on youtube which I am not going to embed but you might wish to look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4-y89REn-o The interview film is horrendous and the questions poorly phrased but its still worth a look.

The loop of correspondence was interesting because it covered work done by people about the bias of the pseudo sceptics. It also introduced me to an open minded sceptic who passed in 2003 Marcello Truzzi.

He was a co founder of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) with Paul Kurtz. However he had significant differences of opinion with other members and left the organisation in 1977. Kurtz and other hard-liners in the organization felt he was not committed to the crusade against "irrationalism," whereas Marcello felt he was a true skeptic, who doubts, rather than a debunker or "scoffer", who denies.

Its an interesting point and differentiates the two positions in a very critical way. I will give you some idea of what Truzzi thought and why. To be honest I believe what he propounded was a rational basis where believers (that is those of us who have had the truth proved to our satisfaction), Sceptics and Psychics could meet. Certainly different to trying to convince people to whom no proof would be sufficient. In honesty he created the term "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence." which is wrongly attributed to Carl Segan. He then stepped back from those words trying to redefine their meaning and even the balance between the extraordinary claims from some sceptics.

I think he makes a couple of definitions that are worth repeating from the archives of the anomalist http://www.anomalist.com/commentaries/pseudo.html
On Pseudo-Skepticism

A Commentary by Marcello Truzzi*


Over the years, I have decried the misuse of the term "skeptic" when used to refer to all critics of anomaly claims. Alas, the label has been thus misapplied by both proponents and critics of the paranormal. Sometimes users of the term have distinguished between so-called "soft" versus "hard" skeptics, and I in part revived the term "zetetic" because of the term's misuse. But I now think the problems created go beyond mere terminology and matters need to be set right. Since "skepticism" properly refers to doubt rather than denial--nonbelief rather than belief--critics who take the negative rather than an agnostic position but still call themselves "skeptics" are actually pseudo-skeptics and have, I believed, gained a false advantage by usurping that label.

In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new "fact." Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes on using the established theories of "conventional science" as usual. But if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a negative hypothesis --saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due to an artifact--he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden of proof.

Sometimes, such negative claims by critics are also quite extraordinary--for example, that a UFO was actually a giant plasma, or that someone in a psi experiment was cued via an abnormal ability to hear a high pitch others with normal ears would fail to notice. In such cases the negative claimant also may have to bear a heavier burden of proof than might normally be expected.

Critics who assert negative claims, but who mistakenly call themselves "skeptics," often act as though they have no burden of proof placed on them at all, though such a stance would be appropriate only for the agnostic or true skeptic. A result of this is that many critics seem to feel it is only necessary to present a case for their counter-claims based upon plausibility rather than empirical evidence. Thus, if a subject in a psi experiment can be shown to have had an opportunity to cheat, many critics seem to assume not merely that he probably did cheat, but that he must have, regardless of what may be the complete absence of evidence that he did so cheat and sometimes even ignoring evidence of the subject's past reputation for honesty. Similarly, improper randomization procedures are sometimes assumed to be the cause of a subject's high psi scores even though all that has been established is the possibility of such an artifact having been the real cause. Of course, the evidential weight of the experiment is greatly reduced when we discover an opening in the design that would allow an artifact to confound the results. Discovering an opportunity for error should make such experiments less evidential and usually unconvincing. It usually disproves the claim that the experiment was "air tight" against error, but it does not disprove the anomaly claim.

Showing evidence is unconvincing is not grounds for completely dismissing it. If a critic asserts that the result was due to artifact X, that critic then has the burden of proof to demonstrate that artifact X can and probably did produce such results under such circumstances. Admittedly, in some cases the appeal to mere plausibility that an artifact produced the result may be so great that nearly all would accept the argument; for example, when we learn that someone known to have cheated in the past had an opportunity to cheat in this instance, we might reasonably conclude he probably cheated this time, too. But in far too many instances, the critic who makes a merely plausible argument for an artifact closes the door on future research when proper science demands that his hypothesis of an artifact should also be tested. Alas, most critics seem happy to sit in their armchairs producing post hoc counter-explanations. Whichever side ends up with the true story, science best progresses through laboratory investigations.

On the other hand, proponents of an anomaly claim who recognize the above fallacy may go too far in the other direction. Some argue, like Lombroso when he defended the mediumship of Palladino, that the presence of wigs does not deny the existence of real hair. All of us must remember science can tell us what is empirically unlikely but not what is empirically impossible. Evidence in science is always a matter of degree and is seldom if ever absolutely conclusive. Some proponents of anomaly claims, like some critics, seen unwilling to consider evidence in probabilistic terms, clinging to any slim loose end as though the critic must disprove all evidence ever put forward for a particular claim. Both critics and proponents need to learn to think of adjudication in science as more like that found in the law courts, imperfect and with varying degrees of proof and evidence. Absolute truth, like absolute justice, is seldom obtainable. We can only do our best to approximate them.

*Marcello Truzzi was a professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University. This article is reprinted, at the author's suggestion, from the Zetetic Scholar, #12-13, 1987.
and again


Last edited by Admin on Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
avatar
Admin
Admin


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by Admin on Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:07 am

Although Lis and I are both psychics and mediums committed to Modern Spiritualism I believe even we remain sceptical about some things. Indeed Spirit Guides are always commenting about being discerning using our intelligence to evaluate claims rationally. Sadly when I see the number of early pioneers, of high repute even today, with multiple events where their fraud was proved and verified I think a sceptical approach is very much called for.
avatar
Admin
Admin


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by Admin on Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:18 am

Some of you may like to see an early example of the approach to dismiss all research as untrue. This is a serious paper concerning the work of Schrenck Notzing as a parapsychologist contrasted with the efforts of a previous colleague Albert Moll trying to dismiss him as a pseudo Scientist.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3381523/pdf/S0025727311000366a.pdf

You may also be interested in the following paper about a psychical researcher named Hugo Munsterberg and his work with Eusapia Palladino
http://hhs.sagepub.com/content/25/2/23.full.pdf+html
avatar
Admin
Admin


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by obiwan on Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:11 am

Interesting article Jim. I am not sure I really agree with the 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence' assertion by Truzzi. Either there is sufficient evidence or there is not. How much evidence is required, may be to a certain extent somewhat subjective. Different folks may be happy with different levels of evidence to satisfy them that a statement is true.

Most of the time I suspect we can be certain of few things in life and rely on probabilities.

The Chris Carter books are very good. Although I can see how one can be sceptical of the evidence of survival and psi ie unable to accept it as a truth, I cannot see how a reasonable person can possibly be certain it is not true.





obiwan


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by Admin on Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:17 pm

I agree with you Obi, apparently Truzzi was backing away from that statement and intended to write an essay re defining what he meant but sadly never got to it. What I am pleased to read, in his articles, is the attack on pseudo sceptics who "explain" phenomena by some alternate means for which they have no proof. Therefore we are meant to produce extraordinary evidence but a debunker needs to produce nothing in support of their own spurious "explanations".

I would like to see a long piece debunking the sceptical claims over the last 120 or so years, visiting the many misrepresentations, distortions and even outright lies which have been perpetrated.

I know spoons are bent by people not by force, without Spirit help, I have done it and twice a year when I run the exercise in my group 25-30% of attendees can do it. How does it happen? I am back to Cox, Crookes and DD Homes Psychic Force, indeed even back to Newtons all pervading Ether.


That was in a session with Rev Anne Gehman from the NSAC, about Spiritual Healing, where she was talking about the difference between magnetic healing, ie using your own energy as illustrated by spoon bending, versus Spirit Healing. It was a very solid Stainless Steel Spoon, no force was used and once it started to bend then it kept going even to a double twist in the shaft. Once again 30% + of attendees achieved bent spoons of some type. Of course a Pseudo Sceptic would dismiss all of this without giving any alternative proposition, it just did not happen.
avatar
Admin
Admin


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by obiwan on Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:45 pm

Admin wrote:

I know spoons are bent by people not by force, without Spirit help, I have done it and twice a year when I run the exercise in my group 25-30% of attendees can do it.

I think that's the point really Jim, you know what happened. I can understand a person saying they don't understand how it could possibly have happened, and I think you're even saying that. What I don't think is reasonable is to say you're either lying or delusional, without providing some evidence to support that. I don't understand what is wrong with reserving judgement unless something is clearly fraudulent. I guess some are convinced that such phenomena are impossible therefore it must be fraud but that is starting from an assumption which may not be correct.

obiwan


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by MU!! on Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:15 pm

obiwan wrote:Interesting article Jim. I am not sure I really agree with the 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence' assertion by Truzzi.

Of course it always does not. What's 'exceptional' anyway? Like most cliches, this one has been given an "examination pass" and applied much too broadly.

Either there is sufficient evidence or there is not. How much evidence is required, may be to a certain extent somewhat subjective. Different folks may be happy with different levels of evidence to satisfy them that a statement is true.

Most of the time I suspect we can be certain of few things in life and rely on probabilities.

The Chris Carter books are very good. Although I can see how one can be sceptical of the evidence of survival and psi ie unable to accept it as a truth, I cannot see how a reasonable person can possibly be certain it is not true.
Methinks that folks spend waaaaaaay too much time worrying about pseudoskeptics. Embarassed

"Whether sceptics and any other of the spiritually ignorant population regard it as fraud or dubious doesn’t matter. The proof is for the open minded who want such evidence and/or guidance that may be forthcoming. To argue against physical mediumship is, in my opinion, to argue against minds that have progressed to a higher level that is beyond our own – so it would be like the pupil telling the teacher what they are permitted to teach!"~James McQuitty






[/quote]

MU!!


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by JonDonnis on Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:49 am

Admin wrote:One of the biggest problems we have always faced is the number of Sceptics who have closed minds and cannot even consider that there may be anything behind what they now choose to call Anomalous Psychology.

Skepticism is about having an open mind, it is part of the definition of skepticism.
I think you are confusing cynics with skeptics.
There is no such thing as a skeptic with a closed mind, for someone with a closed mind is not a skeptic.

I subscribe to the news link of Professor Chris French from Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London and I think he is fairly typical of this approach.

Chris is ok, spoke to him a few times, we disagree on a few things, but his heart is in the right place.
Many worse skeptics out there.

These days I do not follow his work, so wont comment on what he does not. It doesn't really interest me to be fair. Which is a failing on my part.

It is the attitude and approach of these that stops many people within the movement, particularly psychics and mediums, from re engaging with researchers, except those known to be more sympathetic. Sadly this just allows the Sceptics to dismiss any of the findings because of bias. Then recently I was in the loop of correspondence about these particular sceptics and the way that they have, through history, distorted facts and made claims which are incapable of substantiation.

I agree, many skeptics in history when faced with something they didn't understand would dismiss it, and distort the facts, scientists often would influence the results of such tests based on their own beliefs, of course this is why we have peer review and replication within science.

The rest of your article i found interesting, thank you.

JonDonnis


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by Lars on Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:19 pm

Your posts might amuse me. Mad


Last edited by Lars on Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
avatar
Lars


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by JonDonnis on Fri Apr 12, 2013 4:48 pm

Lars wrote:The thread is months and days old. Mad

The admin of this forum asked me to post on this thread to give me my opinion.

Lars stop trolling now, its getting boring. Everyone can see what you are doing.


JonDonnis


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by Admin on Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:28 pm

Good thoughtful reply Jon thankyou I agree with what you say.
avatar
Admin
Admin


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by JonDonnis on Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:28 am

Admin wrote:Good thoughtful reply Jon thank you I agree with what you say.

It always amazes me when scientists decide they are the right people to test a psychic.

In fact it is incredibly easy to prove mediumship or psychic claims, I met up with the management of Derek Acorah late last year and provided a protocol that was insanely easy for Derek to pass if he can do what he claims. Hell they even agreed with me and could find no flaws with it

JonDonnis


Back to top Go down

Re: Psychical Research versus Pseudo-Skepticism

Post by Lars on Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:43 pm

JonDonnis wrote:
Admin wrote:Good thoughtful reply Jon thank you I agree with what you say.

It always amazes me when scientists decide they are the right people to test a psychic.

You are better?

In fact it is incredibly easy to prove mediumship or psychic claims, I met up with the management of Derek Acorah late last year and provided a protocol that was insanely easy for Derek to pass if he can do what he claims. Hell they even agreed with me and could find no flaws with it
Prove that the clues are not in you.

Lars
avatar
Lars


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum