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MistOfTheSea86
July 28th, 2001, 04:35 AM
Is Parapsychology a science? Your Views...

Artemis84
July 28th, 2001, 01:26 PM
I know this might sound silly, but what is parapsychology in the first place?

MistOfTheSea86
July 28th, 2001, 02:44 PM
I will leave ya a dictionary definition in hopes someone can find a better explanation.

The study of the evidence for psychological phenomena, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychokinesis

Yvonne Belisle
July 28th, 2001, 03:33 PM
Although there are some quacks out there we must remember that prior to the microscope a cell was a myth. There was a time in history when the study of disease was frowned upon. Disease was thought to be an unbalancing of humors in the body or a punishment from god. At one point we believed the sun revolved around us. Lets not forget gravity. Just because we do not yet have the technology to prove or disprove the "supernatural" does not invalidate it's existance nor the study of it. Even the military has scientists studying E.S.P. There will come a day when we can prove the reality from the fakers and the scientists are doing what they can to make that day sooner rather than later. So to me yes it is most definitly a science.

Danustouch
July 28th, 2001, 09:10 PM
IMHO....there are certain things which qualify something as a science. The main one I would like to point out here, is whether or not it is researched using the scientific method of hypothesis/study..etc. (been a long time since science class). In other words..is the research being done in Parapsychology being done in a scientific way? Is the data being recorded without poking, prodding, or otherwise interfering with the interview subjects? Are any other "Obvios" causes for phenomena being carefully weighed, and sifted through? IMO...SOME parapsychologists ARE indeed Scientists. Some...are hoaxters (bad experiences with the Warrens tell me that much). The field all on it's own, DOES seem to be a science to me. But...it is the researcher who makes it a science..by their methods of study.

Happydog
July 28th, 2001, 09:34 PM
If psychic phenomena are studied in a scientific manner (and I mean a TRULY scientific manner, that is, OBJECTIVELY) then that is parapsychology, and it is a science.

Unfortunately, there are organizations like PSICOP and people like The Amazing Randi who say they are parapsychologists, when they aren't. Some people who call themselves parapsychologists are actually only debunkers, or people who will go to any length to disprove the existence of psychic phenomena. These people aren't scientists because they've already made up their minds that psychic phenomena are fake, so they go to any length to disprove psychic phenomena, even (as in the case of the two above) deliberately ignoring evidence or falsifying evidence. They're not scientists because they have lost their objectivity.

On the other hand you have "parapsychologists" who are at best confused people, who believe absolutely everything that comes down the pike no matter how obviously fake it is. They're not scientists because they've lost their objectivity also.

There are some people who maintain their objectivity and study the psychic phenomena. They realize that some are fake, some are misunderstood natural phenomena, and some are absolutely unexplainable. They maintain an open mind and try to find out the truth. Those kinds of people are scientists in a very honest sense, and they would be, to me, the scientific parapsychologists.

Whew...that was long winded.

Illuminatus
July 30th, 2001, 09:38 AM
As a Scientist (i have a paper and a ring that say so!!), I feel I must pitch in here.

The only REAL requirements for science are to follow the basic tennants. There was like a list of them, which I now forget, but basicly you can study pretty much ANYTHING, and call it science, as long as these are followed.

1) Observation - Observations are made of the world around you. OBJECTIVE ones, mind you.
2) Hypothesis - a hypothesis is made regarding whatever it is you are studying.
3) Testing the Hypothesis - An objective test is made, which serves to either prove or disprove your hypothesis. Some tests, if done objectively, have the ability to do both, others can merely disprove and not prove, or vice versa.
4) Revise the Hypothesis - was your theory verified by the test? If so, try again. If not, use your new observations to make a new hypothesis. Go back to step 1.
5) Peer Review. Heh. Well, this is really objectivity again. All this is saying that what is true for you, will be true for others. So, you must publish your test results, and let other Scientists do the same sort of tests you did, to see if the community can reach a consensus about your hypothesis.
6) Hypotheses that withstand the test of time can become Laws.

Is Parapsychology a science? Short answer, no. The word "Objective" doesn't even belong on this message board, since all this hokey is almost completely Subjective. Sorry, not science!

Illuminatus

Wyrdsister
July 30th, 2001, 10:50 AM
How about a "not sure" or "need to learn more" option? :)

Wyrdsister

mol
July 30th, 2001, 11:22 AM
Originally posted by Illuminatus

Is Parapsychology a science? Short answer, no. The word "Objective" doesn't even belong on this message board, since all this hokey is almost completely Subjective. Sorry, not science!

Illuminatus

Hokey to you...hokey to some...but not hokey to all. You are not the only authority on the subject. But, your Opinion is noted.

Naillosotarrain
July 30th, 2001, 12:04 PM
Is parapsychology a science? Very interesting question, although in my opinion there is no straight answer to this question. For I see it as a science, yet also at the same time as not a science. Is it studied by scientists? Yes, most certainly, as is just about everything else. So therefor it can be considered a science. However, you must also realize that there are many other aspects involved with parapsychology, the door to the world of metaphysics. In the world of metaphysics, science holds no rules as anything is possible. How can you put a "scientific definition" to telekinesis (and I'm not talking about modern-day Hudini's, but rather the REAL thing).

So is parpsychology a science? I cannot answer that question for you. It is an question that you will need to find an answer for yourself. Remember though, that in the world of science, the simplest solution is usually the correct solution; but not always.

WandererInGray
May 31st, 2002, 10:03 AM
*ponders*

I'm not sure it really matters if it's a science or not. Doesn't make it any more or less real. Especially to those who've chosen to study it.

shnen
May 31st, 2002, 10:11 AM
I think it is a form of science... but not totally for the left brained science finatics (I am generalizing)...

Myst
May 31st, 2002, 12:27 PM
uhm who's the necromancer? hehe :D :D

This poll was started way back when we were deciding what should go in the Science forum, that's why the question was pertinent :)

Myst
May 31st, 2002, 12:41 PM
hey and now we have a science forum to move this to, weee! :)

cherrywind
May 31st, 2002, 12:57 PM
I agree with Danustouch and Illuminatus about the scientific method. That's the most important thing in making something a legitimate field of study.

Until they can prove it exists in every single study, or until they can find some sort of mechanism in the human body that explains why only some have psychic abilities and not others, it won't become a scientific fact. And personally, I don't think they'll find anything like that. Not because it isn't valid or it doesn't exist, but because I just don't think it's possible to pin point psychic powers under a microscope.

Phoenix Blue
May 31st, 2002, 01:28 PM
Well. . . just as important as proof, if not more-so, is an objective basis for observation. Parapsychology simply doesn't have that.

I can measure energy in joules. I can measure power in Watts. I measure acceleration in meters per second per second. And so on. But what does one use to objectively--which, as Illuminatus said, is the key word--measure Esper talent?

No, parapsychology is an interesting field of study perhaps. But a science? Not by a long shot.

Ben Gruagach
May 31st, 2002, 03:08 PM
Originally posted by Happydog
Unfortunately, there are organizations like PSICOP and people like The Amazing Randi who say they are parapsychologists, when they aren't. Some people who call themselves parapsychologists are actually only debunkers, or people who will go to any length to disprove the existence of psychic phenomena. These people aren't scientists because they've already made up their minds that psychic phenomena are fake, so they go to any length to disprove psychic phenomena, even (as in the case of the two above) deliberately ignoring evidence or falsifying evidence. They're not scientists because they have lost their objectivity.


Hi there.

I'm curious about the claim that Randi and the people at CSICOP (the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) have deliberately ignored evidence and falsified evidence to maintain their stance that psychic claims are unfounded. I've read a lot about them and haven't heard of these stories.

I am disappointed whenever I read debunkers attempting to dismiss something using fallacious logical arguments or ad hominem attacks. But on the other hand, the psychic supporters haven't really provided any solid scientific support for their claims, either, so it's no wonder people like CSICOP don't pat them on the back and say "good job!"

James Randi has been a really big promoter of the "Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge" (which you can read about on the web at http://www.randi.org/research/index.html ) If anyone out there is able to genuinely perform a psychic feat in a controlled condition, then they should rush right over to Randi's website and claim the money. It's funny how people like Sylvia Browne, who've said they'll take the Randi challenge, fail to follow through. I suspect it's not because they're too busy, but that they know they can't perform. Imagine the prestige of being a "Randi proven" psychic! Even without the million dollars US as the reward, being able to say you have a psychic talent that Randi has proven valid should be enough encouragement.

And it's not that Randi's test is impossible to take. They determine what a fair test is WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE ONE WHO IS BEING TESTED. It doesn't mean much if the parties involved don't agree ahead of time what constitutes a fair test with clearly identified positive or negative results. And there have been people who have gone through the tests, agreeing what a success would be, yet still no one has succeeded and won the million dollar reward.

An example of one of their recent tests is on the web at http://www.randi.org/jr/032902.html

Personally, I think that there is enough we don't know that there is a possibility psychic powers might exist. But if they do, then they can also be identified and proven scientifically. It might just take a while. But in the meantime, I would support rather than disagree with work done by people like Randi who are at least helping us to weed out the "not psychic" ones who are doing us all a disservice.

; )

Ben
http://www.witchgrotto.com

"Keep an open mind, but not so wide open that your brains fall out."

Myst
May 31st, 2002, 03:39 PM
Originally posted by Ben Gruagach
"Keep an open mind, but not so wide open that your brains fall out."

On a side note, that is one of my favourite sayings :)

Kalosi
June 1st, 2002, 09:56 AM
Originally posted by Yvonne Thomas
Although there are some quacks out there we must remember that prior to the microscope a cell was a myth. There was a time in history when the study of disease was frowned upon. Disease was thought to be an unbalancing of humors in the body or a punishment from god. At one point we believed the sun revolved around us. Lets not forget gravity. Just because we do not yet have the technology to prove or disprove the "supernatural" does not invalidate it's existance nor the study of it. Even the military has scientists studying E.S.P. There will come a day when we can prove the reality from the fakers and the scientists are doing what they can to make that day sooner rather than later. So to me yes it is most definitly a science.

Rock on, Yvonne!! Humans only utilize a tiny fraction of their brain power. I've witnessed some extraordinary things that the accepted scientific community would class as an hallicination or wishful thinking. I look forward to when we can prove the reality from the fakers. Of course, it will require some open thinking, something which I think is lacking from our present scientific community.

Illuminatus
June 5th, 2002, 01:50 PM
Still, look at the poll. 22 think that Yes, these are Sciences, and only 5 said no. The community as a whole is willing to accept paranormal research as science. Since to say otherwise might be misconstruded as denying magick, which may or may not be the case.

- Ill

Ben Gruagach
June 5th, 2002, 03:54 PM
I personally didn't actually answer the poll question with a "yes" or "no" because the question is pretty vague. For instance, does it mean that people think parapsychologists are doing a good job of being scientific? Does it mean that people think parapsychology as a scientific discipline has had some good solid science done to encourage further studies?

The question could be just as simple as "does parapsychology count as a scientific pursuit?" If that is the case, I don't think that anyone can really argue against it - anything can be a scientific pursuit if you approach it using a scientific methodology.

Asking the question: "parapsychology - science or not" was certainly a great way to get a discussion going, but the question itself is pretty vague and doesn't really answer anything. It does help raise a number of more interesting and useful questions, like:
- how can paranormal phenomena be studied in a way to validate it scientifically?
- do any of us a Wiccans, Witches, or Pagans, participate in the scientific study of paranormal phenomena (and hopefully have interesting insights to share)?
- if we insist that paranormal phenomena can't be studied scientifically, then how can we claim that it has a physical, objective existence?

As a community, I think it's really important for all of us to take that extra step and think critically about the various things that make up our belief structure, practices, and philosophies. It helps us to better understand where we are coming from, where we are now, and where we are really going.

; )

Ben

Phoenix Blue
June 5th, 2002, 04:09 PM
Quoth Illuminatus:
Still, look at the poll. 22 think that Yes, these are Sciences, and only 5 said no. The community as a whole is willing to accept paranormal research as science. Since to say otherwise might be misconstruded as denying magick, which may or may not be the case.

Whatever works for them, I suppose. Others look for parting seas or omens from the sky. I'm happy enough with the majick of photosynthesis, respiration, etc. . . :) I like some of the inexplicable in my life, too, don't get me wrong. I just don't like to hide it behind scientific dialect, in effect saying, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

widukind
June 6th, 2002, 10:07 AM
The trouble is: how do you prove the paranormal? Even if you're talking about something like Reiki? You set up lab conditions. You can't allow people to participate, because you'd have the chance of a placebo effect. What you could do is treat seeds with a salt solution, so they wouldn't grow, then channel energy into them so they will grow normally. This is what Geoff Boltwood did, and described, in his book 'The Messenger: the jounrey of a spiritual healer'. You can measure the seeds, you know the amount of time they normally grow in, etc. This would be scientific research as such.

When talking about auras, do photographs suffice? When researching telekinesis, can there be a 100% certainty that no-one has meddled with the results? The trouble is this field of research itself is controversial, and some scientists won't accept the results of a test, even if it is conclusive to prove the paranormal.

Phoenix Blue
June 6th, 2002, 10:46 AM
The most important benchmark of a laboratory test is that, given the same set of inputs, you get the same (or close) set of results. The problem with most of the paranormal studies is that other scientists not directly affiliated with the organizations who've put forth the theories, haven't been able to duplicate the results.

Understanding the human mind is tricky enough to begin with, really. . . and I agree, the field of paranormal study isn't treated all that seriously. But some of that is because of the questionable methods that people in that field have used in the past to try and prove their theories.

Ben Gruagach
June 6th, 2002, 12:38 PM
I thought I'd just mention a few things about scientific testing of paranormal things.

1. In medicine, if a treatment/drug turns out to be no more effective than the placebo effect (i.e. taking sugar pills) then it's usually considered to not be worthwhile. After all, if you can get the same effectiveness from taking pretend medicine that is known to not have side effects, why would you risk your health on something that might have real side effects but no better benefit?

2. Aura testing: there is a simple test that would prove auras exist. Get a person who says they see auras clearly. Have a person for whom the reader claims they can easily see they aura - and the aura extends clearly above the person's head. Have the person step behind a solid screen where they could be in one of three or more places (i.e. is the person standing in spot #1, spot #2, or spot #3?) The screen must be just tall enough that you can't see where the person is standing behind it, but if their aura is actually present it should be visible clearly above the screen, if the aura viewing person really can do what they say they can do. And to be really scientific and fair, the screen test should be set up so that the person recording the experiment on the side with the viewer doesn't know where the person is on the other side, with another observer there to record where the viewee is standing at each attempt. You know, a "double-blind" experiment so the people recording can't accidentally give the aura viewer any clues what the correct answer might be, because they don't know themselves.

There have been other tests into auras and energy field sensing - one example that was in the news a while back is on the web at http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9804/01/therapeutic.touch/

If humans can devise valid tests to determine the existence of subatomic particles that exist for milliseconds, I think we can figure out ways to determine if paranormal phenomena are valid as well.

; )

Ben

Myst
June 6th, 2002, 01:45 PM
Originally posted by Ben Gruagach
2. Aura testing: there is a simple test that would prove auras exist.

Problem being such results should be reproduced by any scientist using the same method and tools, etc. Since only a select few people can see auras, and most scientists cannot, this doesn't provide scientific proof auras exist. The aura reader in this example could be sensing the aura, body heat, energies, or who knows what else. This experiment proves they sensed something, but can't prove what they sensed.

Complicate it more since a lot of aura readers see auras differently or in different colours - if one were to say I see his aura and it's blue, and another to say I see it and it is red, who is to know what either is sensing or if its the same thing?

Phoenix Blue
June 6th, 2002, 01:53 PM
**Nods**

In my personal experience, Reiki is a very real thing. I don't need scientific proof of its existence, nor would I attempt to prove it scientifically.

Science is good for the study of objective reality--it doesn't work so well when you're only testing facets of individuals' subjective reality.

Mythrel
June 6th, 2002, 04:35 PM
Originally posted by Yvonne Thomas
Although there are some quacks out there we must remember that prior to the microscope a cell was a myth. There was a time in history when the study of disease was frowned upon. Disease was thought to be an unbalancing of humors in the body or a punishment from god. At one point we believed the sun revolved around us. Lets not forget gravity. Just because we do not yet have the technology to prove or disprove the "supernatural" does not invalidate it's existance nor the study of it. Even the military has scientists studying E.S.P. There will come a day when we can prove the reality from the fakers and the scientists are doing what they can to make that day sooner rather than later. So to me yes it is most definitly a science.

I tend to agree with you Yvonne Thomas...you hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned

Ben Gruagach
June 6th, 2002, 07:46 PM
Problem being such results should be reproduced by any scientist using the same method and tools, etc. Since only a select few people can see auras, and most scientists cannot, this doesn't provide scientific proof auras exist. The aura reader in this example could be sensing the aura, body heat, energies, or who knows what else. This experiment proves they sensed something, but can't prove what they sensed.

Complicate it more since a lot of aura readers see auras differently or in different colours - if one were to say I see his aura and it's blue, and another to say I see it and it is red, who is to know what either is sensing or if its the same thing?

But the point is the test would show if someone who claims they can see an energy field (and who cares what it is or what it looks like at this point) beyond the physical body really can see it. James Randi has bet a million dollars US that they can't get results any better than you'd expect with guessing, which implies they can't really see anything at all.

If the aura seer really can see an aura, it should be dead simple to spot where a person is standing behind a screen, because their aura goes above the top of their head, right?

Anyone who thinks they can see an aura and pass this simple test should head right over to Randi's site and prove it, and get a million dollars in the process. Randi has bet they can't do it (and I suspect he's right - and I'm a practicing Wiccan too!)

It doesn't matter for the test what type of energy the aura is, or whether some people can see it and others can't. If even one person can see it, and can prove it with this very simple test, then it means Randi is wrong and auras really do exist. It doesn't matter if the philosophy behind the aura is Reiki or Therapeutic Touch or Indian mysticism or Odic Force or whatever. Once it's proven that it's really there they can move on to the next step of trying to measure it and figure out the mechanism behind it. The big stumbling block is "is it there at all?" not "what type of energy is it?"

; )

Ben

materra
June 8th, 2002, 07:21 PM
It is curious that I cannot do what my Family did, find water with a willow stick and with hands flat on a table, watch it move across a room (see table tilting divination thread). We had a young family member try and try to prove how we did it... But couldn't. I saw it happen; we drank the water and moved the table back into place. Yet, since my aunts and Mother have died, not one of us youngers have been able to do it. I wish, that some scientist could have checked it out....observation isn't the key alone that is for sure.

Oridian
June 8th, 2002, 09:35 PM
Yvonne Thomas, Illuminatus, and Danustouch pretty much hit the points I would put out there. There are methods to scientific study other fields of study like philosophy exist but don't ussually have any demonstrable way to test therefore they remain in the realms of philosophy.

One must also consider that much of what is now in the realms of science was part of the realms of philosophy.

So the study of the parapsychological and paranormal done using the scientific method would be a field of science in my opinion. However, that would call for a way to quantify findings in the research. I do not know that that exists. However, that is not to say that we will not develope the technology or methods to test and quantify this research.

I do however feel that whither testable or not at this time, paranormal/parapsychological activities probably do obey their own universal laws and physics. We have just yet to learn them.

mol
June 11th, 2002, 09:51 AM
Originally posted by Oridian
I do however feel that whither testable or not at this time, paranormal/parapsychological activities probably do obey their own universal laws and physics. We have just yet to learn them.

Heh. Once upon a time, physics....was magic.

Oridian
June 11th, 2002, 08:45 PM
Yep, my point exactly.

Semele
June 12th, 2002, 05:23 PM
Originally posted by mol


Heh. Once upon a time, physics....was magic.

It is still magic to me, along with Calculus and those dumb hidden picture things that I can never see! Dolphins my foot!

Illuminatus
June 13th, 2002, 12:36 PM
Originally posted by Semele


It is still magic to me, along with Calculus and those dumb hidden picture things that I can never see! Dolphins my foot!

I can't see them either Semele!!!!

But if Calculus is magik then I am a MATHAMAGICIAN!!!!!!!!

Phoenix Blue
June 13th, 2002, 05:45 PM
Quoth mol:
Heh. Once upon a time, physics....was magic.
Actually, wasn't it Heresy. . ?

StarryDancer
June 17th, 2002, 03:13 PM
Is it a wave? Is it a particle? Is it both? Or neither, but either? Oh, yeah. With the amazing versatility that is opening up in hard science, I think we can look forward to parapsychology being considered a real science. Even if it does not particularly lend itself to scientific method for study...yet.

flar7
July 27th, 2002, 06:50 AM
read the application....it was funny. Several problems with the
thing, but hey, its good to try to debunk stuff. Thats how ya learn!

even in "actual" science, new discoveries are being made about
our "influence" on the environment. Like those cool little particles
they discovered awhile back that are affected just by observation.

Eos of the Eons
June 16th, 2003, 04:24 PM
Hey, science is the study of ....whatever....and even the study of wicca or christianity is a study...of behaviour....or maybe you have a better label...

So it could be science...there could at least be a scientific edge in there somewhere!! :)

Eos of the Eons
June 16th, 2003, 04:27 PM
Yvonne Thomas, Illuminatus, and Danustouch pretty much hit the points I would put out there. There are methods to scientific study other fields of study like philosophy exist but don't ussually have any demonstrable way to test therefore they remain in the realms of philosophy.

One must also consider that much of what is now in the realms of science was part of the realms of philosophy.

So the study of the parapsychological and paranormal done using the scientific method would be a field of science in my opinion. However, that would call for a way to quantify findings in the research. I do not know that that exists. However, that is not to say that we will not develope the technology or methods to test and quantify this research.

I do however feel that whither testable or not at this time, paranormal/parapsychological activities probably do obey their own universal laws and physics. We have just yet to learn them.

A much more complete answer than mine :fpraiseyo

Birdy
January 2nd, 2007, 03:27 AM
Parapsychology is not science for the simple reason that it is not falsifiable.

Eleisawolf
January 2nd, 2007, 12:57 PM
Thanks, Birdy... I was waiting for someone to say that.

Just like God(s)(ess)(esses), if you can't frame the question in a way that allows it to be falsified, you can't even approach it with the scientific process.

So no, it's not a science.

Doesn't mean it won't become one if we find the means to actually investigate it, and doesn't mean that the concepts are invalid; but at this point, it's not.

Not being able to prove something does not automatically disprove it. It just puts off the investigation. ;)

Peace