RationalWiki's 2019 Fundraiser

There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff – we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.

If everyone who saw this today donated $5, we would meet our goal for 2019.

Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with PayPal Logo.png!

Donations so far: $5800Goal: $6000
Information icon.svg The 2018 moderator election has started! We are electing 6 moderators and 2 alternatives to serve in 2019. Nominate users here and read their campaign slogans here!

George P. Hansen

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Putting the psycho in
Parapsychology
Icon psychic.svg
Men who stare at goats
By the powers of tinfoil

George P. Hansen is an American parapsychologist, pseudoscience promoter and spiritualist.

Hansen said that he was employed in parapsychology laboratories for Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina, and at the Psychophysical Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey.[1]

Woo claims[edit]

Hansen is the author of the crackpot book The Trickster and the Paranormal (2001). The book claims paranormal phenomena involve deception and trickery which are elements associated with a figure called the "trickster", a mythological archetype expressed in many different cultures.

Despite the title, Hansen is not a skeptic. He attacks skeptics of the paranormal throughout the book. Although Hansen believes deception has occurred, he believes all psychic phenomena is real. Hansen strangely uses the phrase "white man" in the book to describe scientists who have rejected the woo claims of parapsychology. According to the introduction of his book:

This book is about foretelling the future, the occult, magic, telepathy, mind over matter, miracles, power of prayer, UFOs, Bigfoot, clairvoyance, angels, demons, psychokinesis, and spirits of the dead. These all interact with the physical world. This book explains why they are problematical for science.[2]

Hansen is a believer in the above paranormal topics and is opposed to science dismissing them. As a spiritualist he has written that mediums such as Eusapia Palladino and Leonora Piper were genuine. He refuses to accept Piper was a fraud and has criticized skeptics who have exposed fraudulent mediums. Similar to Stephen E. Braude, Hansen believes that even if a medium is caught in fraud then the rest of their phenomena is still genuine. He ignores much of the skeptical literature on the subject and his book is filled with dishonest quote mines.

Hansen also lies in his book; he says Martin Gardner was a fundamentalist Christian. This is not true, considering that Gardner rejected religion and described himself as a philosophical theist. He also criticizes magicians such as Bob Couttie for not having obtained science degrees, but Hansen has none himself.

Hansen says he has "papers in scientific journals" but if you look at his publications they are all published in parapsychology journals.[3] Hansen's paranormal claims have been rejected by the scientific community and no science journal has published his woo.

Hansen has supported the pseudoscience of other parapsychologists such as Bruce Greyson and Charles Tart.[4]

"Magicians Who Endorsed Psychic Phenomena"[edit]

His article "Magicians Who Endorsed Psychic Phenomena"[5] claims that a number of prominent magicians in history have endorsed the reality of psychic phenomena. The article contains dishonest quote mining and many errors.

Walter Franklin Prince[edit]

Hansen claims the psychical researcher Walter Franklin Prince was a magician but this is false. Prince had no training in magic and rejected the subject, he even published a book that criticized magicians and scientists who had rejected the paranormal. Prince was an Episcopal minister and a spiritualist.

Eric Dingwall[edit]

Hansen claims Eric Dingwall endorsed psychic phenomena, this is not true. Dingwall, an anthropologist and psychical researcher, was interested in conjuring but was not a magician by any means. In his later years, Dingwall became a critic of all paranormal phenomena. His essay The Need for Responsibility in Parapsychology: My Sixty Years in Psychical Research (1985) was published in A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology (1985) by the CSICOP founder Paul Kurtz and in that essay Dingwall made it clear that he didn't believe in psychic phenomena.

Howard Thurston[edit]

Hansen believes Eusapia Palladino had genuine psychic abilities and cites the magician Howard Thurston as supporting her, however Thurston was a convinced spiritualist and had studied at the Dwight L. Moody Bible Institute, intending to become a Unitarian missionary before he became a magician. The majority of magicians (such as Joseph Rinn) and many scientists had caught Palladino in fraud; Hansen does not mention this.

Samri Baldwin[edit]

Hansen says the magician Samri Baldwin believed in "psychic forces" in his book The Secrets of Mahatma Land Explained (1895). Hansen ignores the majority of the book which debunks psychic phenomena. On one page of the book (p. 104) Baldwin states that psychic forces may exist but nowhere in the book does he endorse them. In the introduction to the book he admitted that he believed "all the so called spiritual and supernatural manifestations" to be produced by "conscious or unconscious deception, or caused by natural, though not well understood laws" and "Professor Baldwin does not believe in the supernatural or the occult".[6]

Julien Proskauer[edit]

Hansen claims the magician Julien Proskauer was a believer in psychic phenomena. This is a deliberate lie and utterly false. Proskauer made it clear in his publications he did not believe any psychic phenomena is real. Proskauer exposed many fraudulent mediums and psychics. Hansen quote mines Proskauer in his book Spook Crooks! (1932) as saying "there have been some inexplicable phenomena during seances." Here is the full quote which appears on the last page of the book:

And Now the book is ended. Not that there are not hundreds, yes, even thousands of cases which could be rightfully included, but no book ever printed is large enough to hold the stories of the damage wrought by Spook Crooks who, under their smug guise of possessing supernatural powers, wreck the lives of thousands yearly.

The author hopes that by now the reader realizes

1. Communication between the living and dead is not yet established, although there have been some inexplicable phenomena during seances. Genuine and sincere spiritualists do not give advice on marriage, travel, love, affairs, financial matters or business.

2. Futures of individuals are not predictable by any process.

3. No one possesses supernatural powers. Reading of sealed messages is done by material means, not mystic powers.

4. "Miracles" of fortune tellers, fake spirit mediums, mind readers, etc., are merely the application of some sleight-of-hand, chemical process or unseen manipulation.

5. Astrology, numerology, palmistry, tea leaf reading and there other pseudo-sciences are false doctrines invented to impress the credulous and make the operator wealthy.[7]

It is clear that Hansen's quote mining is just as bad as the creationists. Proskauer did not believe in psychic phenomena yet Hansen mines his book Spook Crooks! for half a line on the last page of the book to pretend he was a psychic believer.

"Magicians on the Paranormal"[edit]

In his article "Magicians on the Paranormal" Hansen claims many magicians have believed in psychic phenomena.[8] He ignores studies which contradict this view. In April 2008, British psychologist and skeptic Richard Wiseman published the results of an online survey he conducted entitled "Magicians and the Paranormal: A Survey", in which 400 magicians worldwide participated. For the question "Do you believe that psychokinesis exists?". The result was 83.5% no. Other questions also received a high percentage of magicians claiming paranormal phenomena does not exist.[9]

Spiritualist agenda[edit]

Hansen's agenda can also be seen when you watch his lectures on parapsychology.[10][11] The lectures were hosted by Shannon Taggart,[12] a spiritualist crank who believes ectoplasm is real and has been involved in the bogus Felix Circle séances with the German spiritualist Kai Muegge.[13]

Hansen criticizes skeptics of the paranormal in his lectures and claims fraudsters like Frederic William Henry Myers and gullible psychical researchers like Oliver Lodge from the Society for Psychical Research have proven the existence of psi. Similar to what he has written in his book he says fraudulent mediums like Eusapia Palladino and Leonora Piper were genuine.

The only supporters of Hansen are spiritualists woo believers such as Michael Prescott.[14]

References[edit]