Friday, January 07, 2011

Paper In Top Psych Journal Claims ESP Is Real


The journal in question: The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. And boy, are people getting mad about this. It's not possible to tell from the story (and probably not possible for me to tell, anyway), but, despite the claims of some critics, there doesn't seen to be any reason to be outraged about this result. Of course there was almost certainly experimental or statistical error--we have extensive, weighty evidence for he conclusion that there are no real ESP-type effects...but so what? It's likely that an enormous percentage of the conclusions arrived at by papers in scientific journals will ultimately turn out to be false. Many already have. There's nothing all that special about this case.

I don't even think it would be all that weird if some kind of ESP effects turned out to be real. I mean, it would be weird, don't get me wrong... But it's not impossible by any stretch of the imagination. It would be far, far less mind-numbingly bizarre than, say, discovering that the Abrahamic God exists. Now that would be weird on weird.

Anyway, it's hard to tell from popular science stories, but it certainly sounds to me like everyone should CTFO, wait until the paper comes out, and then evaluate it normally. There will, of course, be errors in it; the results will, of course, not be reliably replicable.



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