Pseudoscience A-Level Psychology Coursework

“Behind the ears, and directly above the Mastoid Process, is located a brain organ by the name of Vitativeness.”


So begins the December 1905 issue of Human Nature.

“Its Physiological function gives compactness of body,” the author continues. “That is to say, when the faculty is large, it is accompanied by hardness of bone and muscle, and the flesh is always Lean and tightly packed on the bones, indicating tenacity of life akin to the cat, tiger or lion and other members of the feline race.”

It’s something all good science writers know: If you can, lead with the mastoid process. And when you finish, finish with the feline race.

This issue joins over 2,500 popular psychology magazines, the earliest from 1875, housed at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron. Titles in the collection range from the straightforward (Human Behavior) to the narcissistic (YOU) and from the temporally relevant (Psychology Today)to the occult (Psychic Power).

The magazines showcase the best and worst about behavioral science communication over the past century-and-a-half. At their best, the magazines nourished people’s desire to understand more about what it means to be human. At their worst, they exploited that desire with self-help snake oil and pseudoscience.  

Below is a selection of the magazine covers and pages that made me laugh, cringe, and lean in.

They also offered the chance to reflect. As you view the magazines below and read lines like “Phrenologists Study the EXTERIOR Side of Man and Thereby Discover the Key to His Character” and “It is hard for a man to think or reason with a narrow and contracted upper forehead,” you can’t help but wonder what our predecessors were thinking. However, it’s not too hard to imagine that we might one day be the target of similar distain; in 125 years, our claims might look equally ridiculous. And while the field no longer hangs its hat on the contours of a skull, you can see that the problems people write and read about haven’t changed all that much. Loneliness is still lethal, psychology is still influencing elections, and love and sex are still very much on our minds.

There’s a lesson in these images: Be humble. As behavioral science takes a more prominent role in governments and organizations around the world, we’d all do well to ask ourselves and our colleagues, Where are my blindspots, lest we continue to sound the drum of Vitativeness.

Human Nature, December 1905


Human Nature, November 1904

One interesting note: It seems the illustration of the “observer and thinker,” to say nothing of “the thinker but not an observer,” doesn’t quite capture what the author imagined it would. “Our artist did not do justice to his ears, nor give sufficient width and fullness between the eyes. The Face does not correspond with the Head,” the author writes. “Otherwise the sketches illustrate our meaning.”


Phrenology, December 1875

In this issue, “Successfulness of Success” would definitely be the article to bookmark.


Psychology, November 1932


The Modern Psychologist, September 1937

(We won’t be doing the follow-up story on bestial psychopaths.)


Psychoanalysis (comic), March-April 1955

Psychoanalysis had a short life, lasting a mere four issues. They may not have done the best job selling readers on their idea. “An analysis, ordinarily, is a fairly long procedure . . . frequently taking two or more years. If an outsider was given the privilege of listening in on an actual analysis, the main effect upon him would be a boredom beyond all endurance,” reads their inaugural issue. Despite it’s short run, Psychoanalysis did build a reputation for challenging prevailing gender stereotypes, as shown by the cover below.


Your Psychology, May 1957

(Don’t show the Vice President Walter Robinson’s article, on page 9.)


Psychology Today, May 1967

In this issue of Psychology Today, Stanley Milgram published his famous study on social connections, titled “The Small-World Problem.” In the experiment, people in Omaha, Nebraska and Wichita, Kansas were instructed to mail a package to a specific person in Boston whom they did not know. To get the package to its destination, participants were told to send it to a person they knew who would have the best chance of knowing the target (or knowing someone who knew the target person). Milgram measured the number of people the package passed though before it reached its intended destination. He found that, on average, it took just under six steps to get there. This result gave birth to the idea of six degrees of separation (and eventually Kevin Bacon)—that any two people on earth are connected by six social links. (It’s likely closer to three or four.) Also noteworthy in this issue is the reprint of Aldous Huxley’s “Human Potentialities.”


Human Behavior, February 1978


Scientific American Mind, January-February 2010

 

Special thanks to Cathy Faye, assistant director of the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology and the president-elect of the Society for the History of Psychology (APA Division 26), who introduced me to the magazine collection, officially titled the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection.

"Psychotronics" redirects here. For other uses, see Psychotronics (disambiguation).

Parapsychology is a field of study concerned with the investigation of paranormal and psychic phenomena which include telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, near-death experiences, reincarnation, apparitional experiences, and other paranormal claims. It is identified as pseudoscience by a vast majority of mainstream scientists.[1][2]

Parapsychology research is largely conducted by private institutions in several countries and funded through private donations,[3] and the subject rarely appears in mainstream science journals. Most papers about parapsychology are published in a small number of niche journals.[4] Parapsychology has been criticised for continuing investigation despite being unable to provide convincing evidence for the existence of any psychic phenomena after more than a century of research.[5][6]

Terminology[edit]

Para is from Greek, and means "beside, closely related to, beyond..." The term parapsychology was coined in or around 1889 by philosopher Max Dessoir. It was adopted by J. B. Rhine in the 1930s as a replacement for the term psychical research in order to indicate a significant shift toward experimental methodology and academic discipline.[7] The term originates from the Greek: παράpara meaning "alongside", and psychology.

In parapsychology, psi is the unknown factor in extrasensory perception and psychokinesis experiences that is not explained by known physical or biological mechanisms.[8][9] The term is derived from the Greek ψ psi, 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet and the initial letter of the Greek ψυχή psyche, "mind, soul".[10][11] The term was coined by biologistBerthold P. Wiesner, and first used by psychologist Robert Thouless in a 1942 article published in the British Journal of Psychology.[12]

The Parapsychological Association divides psi into two main categories: psi-gamma for extrasensory perception and psi-kappa for psychokinesis.[11] In popular culture, "psi" has become more and more synonymous with special psychic, mental, and "psionic" abilities and powers.

History[edit]

Early psychical research[edit]

In 1853, the chemist Robert Hare conducted experiments with mediums and reported positive results.[13] Other researchers such as Frank Podmore highlighted flaws in his experiments, such as lack of controls to prevent trickery.[14][15]Agenor de Gasparin conducted early experiments into table-tipping. Over a period of five months in 1853 he declared the experiments a success being the result of an "ectenic force". Critics noted that the conditions were insufficient to prevent trickery. For example, the knees of the sitters may have been employed to move the table and no experimenter was watching above and below the table simultaneously.[16]

The German astrophysicist Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner tested the medium Henry Slade in 1877. According to Zöllner some of the experiments were a success.[17] However, flaws in the experiments were discovered and critics have suggested that Slade was a fraud who performed trickery in the experiments.[18][19]

The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) was founded in London in 1882. Its formation was the first systematic effort to organize scientists and scholars to investigate paranormal phenomena. Early membership included philosophers, scholars, scientists, educators and politicians, such as Henry Sidgwick, Arthur Balfour, William Crookes, Rufus Osgood Mason and Nobel Laureate Charles Richet.[20] Presidents of the Society included, in addition to Richet, Eleanor Sidgwick and William James, and subsequently Nobel Laureates Henri Bergson and Lord Rayleigh, and philosopher C. D. Broad.[21]

Areas of study included telepathy, hypnotism, Reichenbach's phenomena, apparitions, hauntings, and the physical aspects of Spiritualism such as table-tilting, materialization and apportation.[22][23] In the 1880s the Society investigated apparitional experiences and hallucinations in the sane. Among the first important works was the two-volume publication in 1886, Phantasms of the Living which was largely criticized by scholars.[24] In 1894, the Census of Hallucinations was published which sampled 17, 000 people. Out of these, 1, 684 persons admitted to having experienced a hallucination of an apparition.[25] The SPR became the model for similar societies in other European countries and the United States during the late 19th century.

Early clairvoyance experiments were reported in 1884 by Charles Richet. Playing cards were enclosed in envelopes and a subject put under hypnosis attempted to identify them. The subject was reported to have been successful in a series of 133 trials but the results dropped to chance level when performed before a group of scientists in Cambridge. J. M. Peirce and E. C. Pickering reported a similar experiment in which they tested 36 subjects over 23,384 trials which did not obtain above chance scores.[26]

In 1881, Eleanor Sidgwick revealed the fraudulent methods that spirit photographers such as Édouard Isidore Buguet, Frederic Hudson and William H. Mumler had utilized.[27] During the late nineteenth century many fraudulent mediums were exposed by SPR investigators.[28]

Largely due to the support of psychologist William James, the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) opened its doors in Boston in 1885, moving to New York City in 1905 under the leadership of James H. Hyslop.[29] Notable cases investigated by Walter Franklin Prince of the ASPR in the early 20th century included Pierre L. O. A. Keeler, the Great Amherst Mystery and Patience Worth.[30][31]

Rhine era[edit]

In 1911, Stanford University became the first academic institution in the United States to study extrasensory perception (ESP) and psychokinesis (PK) in a laboratory setting. The effort was headed by psychologist John Edgar Coover, and was supported by funds donated by Thomas Welton Stanford, brother of the university's founder. After conducting approximately 10,000 experiments, Coover concluded "statistical treatments of the data fail to reveal any cause beyond chance."[32]

In 1930, Duke University became the second major U.S. academic institution to engage in the critical study of ESP and psychokinesis in the laboratory. Under the guidance of psychologist William McDougall, and with the help of others in the department—including psychologists Karl Zener, Joseph B. Rhine, and Louisa E. Rhine—laboratory ESP experiments using volunteer subjects from the undergraduate student body began. As opposed to the approaches of psychical research, which generally sought qualitative evidence for paranormal phenomena, the experiments at Duke University proffered a quantitative, statistical approach using cards and dice. As a consequence of the ESP experiments at Duke, standard laboratory procedures for the testing of ESP developed and came to be adopted by interested researchers throughout the world.[29]

George Estabrooks conducted an ESP experiment using cards in 1927. Harvard students were used as the subjects. Estabrooks acted as the sender with the guesser in an adjoining room. In total 2,300 trials were conducted. When the subjects were sent to a distant room with insulation the scores dropped to chance level. Attempts to repeat the experiment also failed.[26]

The publication of J. B. Rhine's book, New Frontiers of the Mind (1937) brought the laboratory's findings to the general public. In his book, Rhine popularized the word "parapsychology", which psychologist Max Dessoir had coined over 40 years earlier, to describe the research conducted at Duke. Rhine also founded an autonomous Parapsychology Laboratory within Duke and started the Journal of Parapsychology, which he co-edited with McDougall.[29]

Rhine, along with associate Karl Zener, had developed a statistical system of testing for ESP that involved subjects guessing what symbol, out of five possible symbols, would appear when going through a special deck of cards designed for this purpose. A percentage of correct guesses (or hits) significantly above 20% was perceived as higher than chance and indicative of psychic ability. Rhine stated in his first book, Extrasensory Perception (1934), that after 90,000 trials, he felt ESP is "an actual and demonstrable occurrence".[33]

Irish medium and parapsychologist, Eileen J. Garrett, was tested by Rhine at Duke University in 1933 with Zener cards. Certain symbols that were placed on the cards and sealed in an envelope, and she was asked to guess their contents. She performed poorly and later criticized the tests by claiming the cards lacked a psychic energy called "energy stimulus" and that she could not perform clairvoyance to order.[34] The parapsychologist Samuel Soal and his colleagues tested Garrett in May, 1937. Most of the experiments were carried out in the Psychological Laboratory at the University College London. A total of over 12,000 guesses were recorded but Garrett failed to produce above chance level.[35] In his report Soal wrote "In the case of Mrs. Eileen Garrett we fail to find the slightest confirmation of J. B. Rhine's remarkable claims relating to her alleged powers of extra-sensory perception. Not only did she fail when I took charge of the experiments, but she failed equally when four other carefully trained experimenters took my place."[36]

The parapsychology experiments at Duke evoked much criticism from academics and others who challenged the concepts and evidence of ESP. A number of psychological departments attempted to repeat Rhine's experiments with failure. W. S. Cox (1936) from Princeton University with 132 subjects produced 25,064 trials in a playing card ESP experiment. Cox concluded "There is no evidence of extrasensory perception either in the 'average man' or of the group investigated or in any particular individual of that group. The discrepancy between these results and those obtained by Rhine is due either to uncontrollable factors in experimental procedure or to the difference in the subjects."[37] Four other psychological departments failed to replicate Rhine's results.[38] After thousands of card runs, James Charles Crumbaugh failed to duplicate the results of Rhine.[39]

In 1938, the psychologist Joseph Jastrow wrote that much of the evidence for extrasensory perception collected by Rhine and other parapsychologists was anecdotal, biased, dubious and the result of "faulty observation and familiar human frailties".[40] Rhine's experiments were discredited due to the discovery that sensory leakage or cheating could account for all his results such as the subject being able to read the symbols from the back of the cards and being able to see and hear the experimenter to note subtle clues.[41][42][43][44]

IllusionistMilbourne Christopher wrote years later that he felt "there are at least a dozen ways a subject who wished to cheat under the conditions Rhine described could deceive the investigator". When Rhine took precautions in response to criticisms of his methods, he was unable to find any high-scoring subjects.[45] Another criticism, made by chemist Irving Langmuir, among others, was one of selective reporting. Langmuir stated that Rhine did not report scores of subjects that he suspected were intentionally guessing wrong, and that this, he felt, biased the statistical results higher than they should have been.[46]

Rhine and his colleagues attempted to address these criticisms through new experiments described in the book Extrasensory Perception After Sixty Years (1940).[47] Rhine described three experiments the Pearce-Pratt experiment, the Pratt-Woodruff experiment and the Ownbey-Zirkle series which he believed demonstrated ESP. However, C. E. M. Hansel wrote "it is now known that each experiment contained serious flaws that escaped notice in the examination made by the authors of Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years".[26]Joseph Gaither Pratt was the co-experimenter in the Pearce-Pratt and Pratt-Woodruff experiments at the Duke campus. Hansel visited the campus where the experiments took place and discovered the results could have originated through the use of a trick so could not regarded as supplying evidence for ESP.[48]

In 1957, Rhine and Joseph Gaither Pratt wrote Parapsychology: Frontier Science of the Mind. Because of the methodological problems, parapsychologists no longer utilize card-guessing studies.[49] Rhine's experiments into psychokinesis (PK) were also criticized. John Sladek wrote:

His research used dice, with subjects 'willing' them to fall a certain way. Not only can dice be drilled, shaved, falsely numbered and manipulated, but even straight dice often show bias in the long run. Casinos for this reason retire dice often, but at Duke, subjects continued to try for the same effect on the same dice over long experimental runs. Not surprisingly, PK appeared at Duke and nowhere else.[50]

The Ownbey-Zirkle ESP experiment at Duke was criticized by parapsychologists and skeptics.[51] Ownbey would attempt to send ESP symbols to Zirkle who would guess what they were. The pair were placed in adjacent rooms unable to see each other and an electric fan was used to prevent the pair communicating by sensory cues. Ownbey tapped a telegraph key to Zirkle to inform him when she was trying to send him a symbol. The door separating the two rooms was open during the experiment, and after each guess Zirkle would call out his guess to Ownbey who recorded his choice. Critics pointed out the experiment was flawed as Ownbey acted as both the sender and the experimenter, nobody was controlling the experiment so Ownbey could have cheated by communicating with Zirkle or made recording mistakes.[51][52]

The Turner-Ownbey long distance telepathy experiment was discovered to contain flaws. May Frances Turner positioned herself in the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory whilst Sara Ownbey claimed to receive transmissions 250 miles away. For the experiment Turner would think of a symbol and write it down whilst Ownbey would write her guesses.[50] The scores were highly successful and both records were supposed to be sent to J. B. Rhine, however, Ownbey sent them to Turner. Critics pointed out this invalidated the results as she could have simply written her own record to agree with the other. When the experiment was repeated and the records were sent to Rhine the scores dropped to average.[50][53][54]

A famous ESP experiment at the Duke University was performed by Lucien Warner and Mildred Raible. The subject was locked in a room with a switch controlling a signal light elsewhere, which she could signal to guess the card. Ten runs with ESP packs of cards were used and she achieved 93 hits (43 more than chance). Weaknesses with the experiment were later discovered. The duration of the light signal could be varied so that the subject could call for specific symbols and certain symbols in the experiment came up far more often than others which indicated either poor shuffling or card manipulation. The experiment was not repeated.[50][55]

The administration of Duke grew less sympathetic to parapsychology, and after Rhine's retirement in 1965 parapsychological links with the university were broken. Rhine later established the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM) and the Institute for Parapsychology as a successor to the Duke laboratory.[29] In 1995, the centenary of Rhine's birth, the FRNM was renamed the Rhine Research Center. Today, the Rhine Research Center is a parapsychology research unit, stating that it "aims to improve the human condition by creating a scientific understanding of those abilities and sensitivities that appear to transcend the ordinary limits of space and time".[56]

Establishment of the Parapsychological Association[edit]

The Parapsychological Association (PA) was created in Durham, North Carolina, on June 19, 1957. Its formation was proposed by J. B. Rhine at a workshop on parapsychology which was held at the Parapsychology Laboratory of Duke University. Rhine proposed that the group form itself into the nucleus of an international professional society in parapsychology. The aim of the organization, as stated in its Constitution, became "to advance parapsychology as a science, to disseminate knowledge of the field, and to integrate the findings with those of other branches of science".[57]

In 1969, under the direction of anthropologistMargaret Mead, the Parapsychological Association became affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general scientific society in the world.[58] In 1979, physicist John A. Wheeler said that parapsychology is pseudoscientific, and that the affiliation of the PA to the AAAS needed to be reconsidered.[59][60]

His challenge to parapsychology's AAAS affiliation was unsuccessful.[60] Today, the PA consists of about three hundred full, associate, and affiliated members worldwide.[61]

The Stargate Project[edit]

Beginning in the early 1950s, the CIA started extensive research into behavioral engineering. Various experiments were undertaken in the process of this research, including some using various hallucinogenic substances.[verification needed] The findings from these experiments led to the formation of the Stargate Project, which handled ESP research for the U.S. federal government.

The Stargate Project was terminated in 1995 with the conclusion that it was never useful in any intelligence operation. The information was vague and included a lot of irrelevant and erroneous data. There was also reason to suspect that the research managers had adjusted their project reports to fit the known background cues.[62]

The 1970s and 1980s[edit]

The affiliation of the Parapsychological Association (PA) with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, along with a general openness to psychic and occult phenomena in the 1970s, led to a decade of increased parapsychological research. During this period, other related organizations were also formed, including 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 the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory (1979). Parapsychological work was also conducted at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) during this time.[7]

The scope of parapsychology expanded during these years. Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson conducted much of his research into reincarnation during the 1970s, and the second edition of his Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation was published in 1974. Psychologist Thelma Moss devoted time to the study of Kirlian photography at UCLA's parapsychology laboratory. The influx of spiritual teachers from Asia, and their claims of abilities produced by meditation, led to research on altered states of consciousness. American Society for Psychical Research Director of Research, Karlis Osis, conducted experiments in out of body experiences. Physicist Russell Targ coined the term remote viewing for use in some of his work at SRI in 1974.[7]

The surge in paranormal research continued into the 1980s: the Parapsychological Association reported members working in more than 30 countries. For example, research was carried out and regular conferences held in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union[7] although the word parapsychology was discarded in favour of the term psychotronics.[63] The main promoter of psychotronics was Czech scientist Zdeněk Rejdák, who described it as a physical science, organizing conferences and presiding over the International Association for Psychotronic Research.[64]

In 1985 a Chair of Parapsychology was established within the Department of Psychology at the University of Edinburgh and was given to Robert Morris, an experimental parapsychologist from the United States. Morris and his research associates and PhD students pursued research on topics related to parapsychology.[65]

Modern era[edit]

Since the 1980s, contemporary parapsychological research has waned considerably in the United States.[66] Early research was considered inconclusive, and parapsychologists were faced with strong opposition from their academic colleagues.[7] Some effects thought to be paranormal, for example the effects of Kirlian photography (thought by some to represent a human aura), disappeared under more stringent controls, leaving those avenues of research at dead-ends.[7] The bulk of parapsychology research in the US is now confined to private institutions funded by private sources.[7] After 28 years of research, Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory (PEAR), which studied psychokinesis, closed in 2007.[66]

Two universities in the United States currently have academic parapsychology laboratories. The Division of Perceptual Studies, a unit at the University of Virginia's Department of Psychiatric Medicine, studies the possibility of survival of consciousness after bodily death, near-death experiences, and out-of-body experiences.[67]Gary Schwartz at the University of Arizona's Veritas Laboratory conducted laboratory investigations of mediums, criticized by scientific skeptics. Several private institutions, including the Institute of Noetic Sciences, conduct and promote parapsychological research.[66]

Over the last two decades some new sources of funding for parapsychology in Europe have seen a "substantial increase in European parapsychological research so that the center of gravity for the field has swung from the United States to Europe".[68] Of all nations the United Kingdom has the largest number of active parapsychologists.[68] In the UK, researchers work in conventional psychology departments, and also do studies in mainstream psychology to "boost their credibility and show that their methods are sound". It is thought that this approach could account for the relative strength of parapsychology in Britain.[66]

As of 2007, parapsychology research is represented in some 30 different countries[68] and a number of universities worldwide continue academic parapsychology programs. Among these are the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh;[69] the Parapsychology Research Group at Liverpool Hope University (this closed in April 2011);[70][71] the SOPHIA Project at the University of Arizona;[72] the Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology Research Unit of Liverpool John Moores University;[73] the Center for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes at the University of Northampton;[74] and the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London.[75]

Research and professional organizations include the Parapsychological Association;[76] the Society for Psychical Research, publisher of the Journal of Society for Psychical Research;[77] the American Society for Psychical Research, publisher of the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (last published in 2004);[78] the Rhine Research Center and Institute for Parapsychology, publisher of the Journal of Parapsychology;[79] the Parapsychology Foundation, which published the International Journal of Parapsychology (between 1959 and 1968 and 2000–2001)[80] and the Australian Institute of Parapsychological Research, publisher of the Australian Journal of Parapsychology.[81] The European Journal of Parapsychology ceased publishing in 2010.[82]

Parapsychological research has also included other sub-disciplines of psychology. These related fields include transpersonal psychology, which studies transcendent or spiritual aspects of the human mind, and anomalistic psychology, which examines paranormal beliefs and subjective anomalous experiences in traditional psychological terms.[66][83]

Research[edit]

Scope[edit]

Parapsychologists study a number of ostensible paranormal phenomena, including but not limited to:

  • Telepathy: Transfer of information on thoughts or feelings between individuals by means other than the five classical senses.
  • Precognition: Perception of information about future places or events before they occur.
  • Clairvoyance: Obtaining information about places or events at remote locations, by means unknown to current science.
  • Psychokinesis: The ability of the mind to influence matter, time, space, or energy by means unknown to current science.
  • Near-death experiences: An experience reported by a person who nearly died, or who experienced clinical death and then revived.
  • Reincarnation: The rebirth of a soul or other non-physical aspect of human consciousness in a new physical body after death.
  • Apparitional experiences: Phenomena often attributed to ghosts and encountered in places a deceased individual is thought to have frequented, or in association with the person's former belongings.

The definitions for the terms above may not reflect their mainstream usage, nor the opinions of all parapsychologists and their critics.

According to the Parapsychological Association, parapsychologists do not study all paranormal phenomena, nor are they concerned with astrology, UFOs, cryptozoology, paganism, vampires, alchemy, or witchcraft.[84]

Journals dealing with parapsychology include the Journal of Parapsychology, Journal of Near-Death Studies, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, and Journal of Scientific Exploration.

Experimental research[edit]

Ganzfeld[edit]

Main article: Ganzfeld experiment

The Ganzfeld (German for "whole field") is a technique used to test individuals for telepathy. The technique—a form of moderate sensory deprivation—was developed to quickly quiet mental "noise" by providing mild, unpatterned stimuli to the visual and auditory senses. The visual sense is usually isolated by creating a soft red glow which is diffused through half ping-pong balls placed over the recipient's eyes. The auditory sense is usually blocked by playing white noise, static, or similar sounds to the recipient. The subject is also seated in a reclined, comfortable position to minimize the sense of touch.[85]

In the typical Ganzfeld experiment, a "sender" and a "receiver" are isolated.[86] The receiver is put into the Ganzfeld state,[85] or Ganzfeld effect and the sender is shown a video clip or still picture and asked to mentally send that image to the receiver. The receiver, while in the Ganzfeld, is asked to continuously speak aloud all mental processes, including images, thoughts, and feelings. At the end of the sending period, typically about 20 to 40 minutes in length, the receiver is taken out of the Ganzfeld state and shown four images or videos, one of which is the true target and three of which are non-target decoys. The receiver attempts to select the true target, using perceptions experienced during the Ganzfeld state as clues to what the mentally "sent" image might have been.

The Ganzfeld experiment studies that were examined by Ray Hyman and Charles Honorton had methodological problems that were well documented. Honorton reported only 36% of the studies used duplicate target sets of pictures to avoid handling cues.[89] Hyman discovered flaws in all of the 42 Ganzfeld experiments and to assess each experiment, he devised a set of 12 categories of flaws. Six of these concerned statistical defects, the other six covered procedural flaws such as inadequate documentation, randomization and security as well as possibilities of sensory leakage.[90] Over half of the studies failed to safeguard against sensory leakage and all of the studies contained at least one of the 12 flaws. Because of the flaws, Honorton agreed with Hyman the 42 Ganzfeld studies could not support the claim for the existence of psi.[90]

Possibilities of sensory leakage in the Ganzfeld experiments included the receivers hearing what was going on in the sender's room next door as the rooms were not soundproof and the sender's fingerprints to be visible on the target object for the receiver to see.[91][92] Hyman reviewed the autoganzfeld experiments and discovered a pattern in the data that implied a visual cue may have taken place. Hyman wrote the autoganzfeld experiments were flawed because they did not preclude the possibility of sensory leakage.[90]

In 2010, Lance Storm, Patrizio Tressoldi, and Lorenzo Di Risio analyzed 29 Ganzfeld studies from 1997 to 2008. Of the 1,498 trials, 483 produced hits, corresponding to a hit rate of 32.2%. This hit rate is statistically significant with p < .001. Participants selected for personality traits and personal characteristics thought to be psi-conducive were found to perform significantly better than unselected participants in the Ganzfeld condition.[93] Hyman (2010) published a rebuttal to Storm et al. According to Hyman, "Reliance on meta-analysis as the sole basis for justifying the claim that an anomaly exists and that the evidence for it is consistent and replicable is fallacious. It distorts what scientists mean by confirmatory evidence." Hyman wrote that the Ganzfeld studies were not independently replicated and failed to produce evidence for psi.[88] Storm et al. published a response to Hyman stating that the Ganzfeld experimental design has proved to be consistent and reliable, that parapsychology is a struggling discipline that has not received much attention, and that therefore further research on the subject is necessary.[87] Rouder et al. 2013 wrote that critical evaluation of Storm et al.'s meta-analysis reveals no evidence for psi, no plausible mechanism and omitted replication failures.[94]

Remote viewing[edit]

Main article: Remote viewing

Remote viewing is the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target using subjective means, in particular, extrasensory perception. Typically a remote viewer is expected to give information about an object, event, person or location that is hidden from physical view and separated at some distance.[95] Several hundred such trials have been conducted by investigators over the past 25 years, including those by the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory (PEAR) and by scientists at SRI International and Science Applications International Corporation.[96][97] Many of these were under contract by the U.S. government as part of the espionage program Stargate Project, which terminated in 1995 having failed to document any practical intelligence value.[98]

The psychologists David Marks and Richard Kammann attempted to replicate Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff’s remote viewing experiments that were carried out in the 1970s at the Stanford Research Institute. In a series of 35 studies, they were unable to replicate the results, motivating them to investigate the procedure of the original experiments. Marks and Kammann discovered that the notes given to the judges in Targ and Puthoff's experiments contained clues as to the order in which they were carried out, such as referring to yesterday's two targets, or they had the date of the session written at the top of the page. They concluded that these clues were the reason for the experiment's high hit rates.[99][100] Marks was able to achieve 100 per cent accuracy without visiting any of the sites himself but by using cues.[101]James Randi wrote controlled tests in collaboration with several other researchers, eliminating several sources of cuing and extraneous evidence present in the original tests; Randi's controlled tests produced negative results. Students were also able to solve Puthoff and Targ's locations from the cues that had inadvertently been included in the transcripts.[102]

In 1980, Charles Tart claimed that a rejudging of the transcripts from one of Targ and Puthoff’s experiments revealed an above-chance result.[103] Targ and Puthoff again refused to provide copies of the transcripts and it was not until July 1985 that they were made available for study, when it was discovered they still contained sensory cues.[104] Marks and Christopher Scott (1986) wrote "considering the importance for the remote viewing hypothesis of adequate cue removal, Tart’s failure to perform this basic task seems beyond comprehension. As previously concluded, remote viewing has not been demonstrated in the experiments conducted by Puthoff and Targ, only the repeated failure of the investigators to remove sensory cues."[105]

PEAR closed its doors at the end of February 2007. Its founder, Robert G. Jahn, said of it that, "For 28 years, we’ve done what we wanted to do, and there’s no reason to stay and generate more of the same data."[106] Statistical flaws in his work have been proposed by others in the parapsychological community and within the general scientific community.[107][108] The physicist Robert L. Park said of PEAR, "It’s been an embarrassment to science, and I think an embarrassment for Princeton".[106]

Psychokinesis on random number generators[edit]

Main article: Psychokinesis

The advent of powerful and inexpensive electronic and computer technologies has allowed the development of fully automated experiments studying possible interactions between mind and matter. In the most common experiment of this type, a random number generator (RNG), based on electronic or radioactive noise, produces a data stream that is recorded and analyzed by computer software. A subject attempts to mentally alter the distribution of the random numbers, usually in an experimental design that is functionally equivalent to getting more "heads" than "tails" while flipping a coin. In the RNG experiment, design flexibility can be combined with rigorous controls, while collecting a large amount of data in a very short period of time. This technique has been used both to test individuals for psychokinesis and to test the possible influence on RNGs of large groups of people.[109]

Major meta-analyses of the RNG database have been published every few years since appearing in the journal Foundations of Physics in 1986.[109] PEAR founder Robert G. Jahn and his colleague Brenda Dunne say that the experiments produced "a very small effect" not large enough to be observed over a brief experiment but over a large number of trials resulted in a tiny statistical deviation from chance.[110] According to Massimo Pigliucci the results from PEAR can be explained without invoking the paranormal because of two problems with the experiment "the difficulty of designing machines capable of generating truly random events and the fact that statistical "significance" is not at all a good measure of the importance or genuineness of a phenomenon."[111] Pigluicci has written the statistical analysis used by the Jahn and the PEAR group relied on a quantity called a "p-value" but a problem with p-values is that if the sample size (number of trials) is very large like PEAR then one is guaranteed to find artificially low p-values indicating a statistical "significant" result even though nothing was occurring other than small biases in the experimental apparatus.[111]

Two German independent scientific groups have failed to replicate the PEAR results.[111] Pigliucci has written this was "yet another indication that the simplest hypothesis is likely to be true: there was nothing to replicate."[111] The most recent meta-analysis on psychokinesis was published in Psychological Bulletin, along with several critical commentaries. It analyzed the results of 380 studies; the authors reported an overall positive effect size that was statistically significant but very small relative to the sample size and could, in principle, be explained by publication bias.[112][113][114]

Direct mental interactions with living systems[edit]

Formerly called bio-PK, "direct mental interactions with living systems" (DMILS) studies the effects of one person's intentions on a distant person's psychophysiological state.[115] One type of DMILS experiment looks at the commonly reported "feeling of being stared at." The "starer" and the "staree" are isolated in different locations, and the starer is periodically asked to simply gaze at the staree via closed circuit video links. Meanwhile, the staree's nervous system activity is automatically and continuously monitored.

Parapsychologists have interpreted the cumulative data on this and similar DMILS experiments to suggest that one person's attention directed towards a remote, isolated person can significantly activate or calm that person's nervous system. In a meta-analysis of these experiments published in the British Journal of Psychology in 2004, researchers found that there was a small but significant overall DMILS effect. However, the study also found that when a small number of the highest-quality studies from one laboratory were analyzed, the effect size was not significant. The authors concluded that although the existence of some anomaly related to distant intentions cannot be ruled out, there was also a shortage of independent replications and theoretical concepts.[115]

Dream telepathy[edit]

Main article: Dream telepathy

Parapsychological studies into dream telepathy were carried out at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York led by Stanley Krippner and Montague Ullman. They concluded the results from some of their experiments supported dream telepathy.[116] However, the results have not been independently replicated.[117][118][119][120]

The picture target experiments that were conducted by Krippner and Ullman were criticized by C. E. M. Hansel. According to Hansel there were weaknesses in the design of the experiments in the way in which the agent became aware of their target picture. Only the agent should have known the target and no other person until the judging of targets had been completed; however, an experimenter was with the agent when the target envelope was opened. Hansel also wrote there had been poor controls in the experiment as the main experimenter could communicate with the subject.[121] In 2002, Krippner denied Hansel's accusations, claiming the agent did not communicate with the experimenter.[122]

An attempt to replicate the experiments that used picture targets was carried out by Edward Belvedere and David Foulkes. The finding was that neither the subject nor the judges matched the targets with dreams above chance level.[123] Results from other experiments by Belvedere and Foulkes were also negative.[124]

In 2003, Simon Sherwood and Chris Roe wrote a review that claimed support for dream telepathy at Maimonides.[125] However, James Alcock noted that their review was based on "extreme messiness" of data. Alcock concluded the dream telepathy experiments at Maimonides have failed to provide evidence for telepathy and "lack of replication is rampant."[126]

Near-death experiences[edit]

Main article: Near-death experience

A near-death experience (NDE) is an experience reported by a person who nearly died, or who experienced clinical death and then revived. NDEs include one or more of the following experiences: a sense of being dead; an out-of-body experience

Photographs which purportedly depicted ghosts or spirits were popular during the 19th century.
Early parapsychological research employed the use of Zener cards in experiments designed to test for the existence of telepathic communication, or clairvoyant or precognitive perception.
Mr. Zirkle and Miss Ownbey
Participant of a Ganzfeld experiment. Proponents say such experiments have shown evidence of telepathy,[87] while critics like Ray Hyman have pointed out that they have not been independently replicated.[88]

0 Replies to “Pseudoscience A-Level Psychology Coursework”

Lascia un Commento

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *