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PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 17:56, 26 November 2013 (UTC)


Let me open up a can. There's no evidence for psi. My complaint with the psi supporters is that they have never read the skeptical literature:

C. E. M. Hansel. ESP: A Scientific Evaluation. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1966. Rev. ed. as ESP and Parapsychology: A Critical Re-evaluation. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1980. Leonard Zusne, Warren H. Jones. (1989). Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking. Psychology Press. Terence Hines (2002). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal (2nd ed. ed.). Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. Jonathan Smith. (2009). Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker's Toolkit. Wiley-Blackwell.

If you sat down for a few hours and read all the above books there would be no doubt in your mind there's no evidence for psi but unfortunately skeptical literature on the subject is not well known (media, newspapers etc are pro paranormal). But even your own field disagree with each other... The parapsychologist Dean Radin has written the results from psi research are as consistent by the same standards as any other scientific discipline but Dick Bierman, Walter Lucadou, J.E. Kennedy, and Robert Jahn, openly admit the evidence for psi is "inconsistent, irreproducible, and fails to meet acceptable scientific standards" and some parapsychologists such as D. Scott Rogo and Jule Eisenbud wrote psi is outside of scientific investigation, it's not repeatable in scientific conditions. Psi is not science.

Parapsychologists have admitted it is impossible to eliminate the possibility of non-paranormal causes in their experiments. There is no independent method to indicate the presence or absence of psi. There's not even a definition of psi:

James Alcock: "Parapsychology is the only realm of objective inquiry in which the phenomena are all negatively defined, defined in terms of ruling out normal explanations. Of course, ruling out all normal explanations is not an easy task. We may not be aware of all possible normal explanations, or we may be deceived by our subjects, or we may deceive ourselves. If all normal explanations actually could be ruled out, just what is it that is at play? What is psi? Unfortunately, it is just a label. It has no substantive definition that goes beyond saying that all normal explanations have apparently been eliminated. Of course, parapsychologists generally presume that it has something to do with some ability of the mind to transcend the laws of nature as we know them, but all that is so vague as to be unhelpful in any scientific exploration"

Nobody is saying psi can't exist, perhaps Santa clause and fairies exist as well, but there's no scientific evidence for them. It's up to you if you want to believe in magical things that have no evidence, but you shouldn't pretend your beliefs are scientific. That's no different than creationism. Debunker (talk) 17:33, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

In absence of time, I'll keep it short. a) the comparison to creationists is totally meaningless. b) most people interested in parapsychology who are scientifically minded read the skeptical literature. c)There is replication in psi experiments, even if it's sometimes difficult to replicate, which is also the case in psychology, maybe not to that degree though. Even Wiseman said that by the standards of science remote viewing would be established :D And all the authors you mentioned above (jahn et. al) are also convinced of psi and don't say it can't be investigated using the scientific method.

As far as Hansel goes, here's a video of a friend of mine discussing his work: --Psi (talk) 18:39, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

I know Tyler, I have debated him once before, he consistently defends fraudulent mediums like Home, Palladino and the Schneider brothers he has no credibility. He says he is bringing out a new paper in defense of physical mediums which is rather strange considering the majority of SPR members have rejected physical mediumship as nothing more than cheesecloth. He reminds me of another psi-believer S. Alexander Hardison who has close connections to Michael E. Tymn a spiritualist who claims every medium is genuine. You would fit right in on the skeptiko forum [1] over there they claim Uri Geller was even genuine. If there was repeatable evidence for psi, it would be all around the world in mainstream scientific journals, it would bring about a huge paradigm shift in science but no such thing has happened. Believers have no explanation but to invoke conspiracy theories or call the scientific community "materialists" and suppressing their "psi evidence", it's irrational. I see no reason to invoke conspiracy theories. Occam's razor is a friend sometimes. Debunker (talk) 07:09, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

--429cage (talk) 17:21, 7 December 2013 (UTC) I was directed to this post by the person who responded originally. Firstly, I should make it clear that I do not believe in psychic phenomena on any level -this is S. Alexander, the person whom you brought into this conversation for reasons that I don't find terribly clear (and I've never been big on people talking about folk behind their back or in the safety of internet forums). I am certainly up for a private debate, if you'd like to take that route, "Debunker".

I would like to point out, further, that your entire premise (about there being "no evidence for psi") is shaky. There is a plethora of "evidence", though as Chris French would say, the question becomes whether the evidence is of sufficient quality. In some cases, the evidence can be compelling -though I actually agree with Alcock about the problem associated with calling any given statistical anomaly "psi" (as he likes to say, "It could be Zeus!"). The problem there, of course, is that there do seem to be correlates between some mental states and those anomalies -the sheep/goat effect is one commonly cited example, as is the alleged correlation between mental dissociation/altered states of consciousness. In that sense, there is at least some evidence that mental states and those anomalies do show correlations, but, if skeptical, one could assert then that the researcher's biases simply grant them the results they look for (that doesn't seem like a good hypothesis for the whole of the data, though).

I think there are cases which remain "unexplained", but I tend to agree with Frank Podmore (see his classic The Newer Spiritualism, originally published posthumously in 1910) in that labeling an unexplained phenomena or case as "supernormal" ("paranormal", or whatever word you want to use) is a poor excuse for a lack of critical thinking on the subject. That said, Podmore was convinced that telepathy was a genuine, if largely dormant phenomena, based on his research into apparitions (see Phantasms of the Living, published originally in 1886 with Edmond Gurney and F.W.H. Myers, and his own book on the subject Apparitions and Thought Transference: an Examination of the Evidence for Telepathy, published in 1896). Podmore is, of course, one of the most revered classical skeptics of psychical research and one can learn a great deal from his cautious approach to these issues (parapsychology, as it later was labeled).

When it comes down to it, you don't quite seem to have a good grasp on the subjects you try to dissect -Hansel, whom you referenced above, was thought to be wrong by Ray Hyman in his approach of saying that the possibility that fraud could happen on any level was enough of a reason to dismiss all parapsychological research (one might as well throw out all scientific research if that approach were adopted). So, I certainly agree with Hyman's more reserved and conscientious approach to the issues, since it entails that we actually have to examine the claims in depth (with Hansel's approach things can be dismissed without inquiry). Here is a video which, in addition to including some very interesting historical researchers and research, contains a brief critique of Hansel by Hyman:

Since you referenced Michael Tymn, I must make it clear here that I do not endorse the man's beliefs. He does seem very eager to believe certain things (which I think are obviously fraudulent), but he is no fool -that said, one can be intelligent and blinded by a will to believe or disbelieve. I prefer a balanced approach to parapsychology and psychic claims, much like what Marcello Truzzi thought was proper (see his article "On Pseudoskepticism", published in the Zetetic Scholar, 1987). My acquaintance with Tymn is far from what one could call a "close connection". I have shared some email correspondence in the past, reviewed at least one of his books that I admired (but didn't fully agree with) and have published one article in the journal that he edits. I believe you to be someone that I've spoken to before.

As for Tyler, he has a great deal more knowledge of these subjects than I imagine you can claim and though he may tend to think some physical mediums were genuine, it is because some of their phenomena appear unexplained -I am very reserved about calling them "paranormal" because of that, however. It does seem that saying he "has no credibility" is a poor choice of wording and you should be much kinder if you expect to move these debates forward in any way. I personally think that people who lean too far into one camp or another (i.e. toward disbelief or belief) tend to be too dismissive of what other people have to say -we should be watching our offensive language, ensuring that we don't "mock" people's beliefs, but discuss the subject matter in question openly, cautiously and kindly. Personally, I've always preferred an approach that I've tried to adopt -getting involved in the actual research, rather than just talking about things endlessly.

As for your final claim, there almost was a mainstream breakthrough in the 80s and 90s with the Ganzfeld paradigm -that is still often considered to be great evidence for telepathy, though it is disputed (as anything significant will be). I don't like the dismissive attitude that people make toward opposing reviews, either toward belief or disbelief. These claims have been disputed for a long time and not always in rational ways (though being "rational" is a subjective affirmation in a lot of ways; see Peter Lamont's wonderful "Extraordinary Beliefs: A Historical Approach to a Psychological Problem", published 2013). Essentially, we are never just discussing evidence or claims -we are discussing such things behind the lens of belief in one guise or another.

I will probably not comment further, since I find many, but not all, of the articles on this website to be very poor in scholarship and often embarrassing to any genuine inquisitive skeptic (to say the least -if you're going to be skeptical, don't be incompetent). For anyone seriously interested in finding a good overall review of parapsychological research, both regarding the claims of proponents and counter-proponents, I can point to no better general source than "An Introduction to Parapsychology" (Irwin and Watt, Mc Farlane & Co Fifth Edition, 2007). Kylie Sturgess published a wonderful article in the "Skeptical Inquirer" (Volume 20.1, March 2010 "A Skeptic Gets Schooled: An Introduction to Parapsychology") complimenting a course that Caroline Watt, one of the authors of the newest edition of the textbook, taught. With all that said, I leave you with some of Watt's words cited in the referenced article (which we all should take to heart):

"Yes, skeptics are crucial to parapsychology, with one important caveat: they must be well-informed about the actual published research literature in parapsychology, both methodology and findings. Unin­formed skeptics are wasting their own and everyone else’s time. As to your second question, skepticism is wider than parapsychology, but for those skeptics focusing on the paranormal, I suppose they need parapsychology (narrowly defined as the field that attempts to use controlled scientific methods to test the psi hypothesis) to provide something to get their teeth into that is less easy to dismiss than everyday experiences that are often misinterpreted as being paranormal. However, I have a quibble about your question! It assumes that skeptics and parapsychologists are mutually exclusive groups. Some of the best and most detailed criticism of parapsychological re­search comes from parapsychologists themselves. If we are being good scientists, we should all be questioning and attempting to think critically whenever we tackle the paranormal. So in that sense, we should all be skeptics!"

--429cage (talk) 17:21, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

429 on the facebook page for the SPR it was asked for which survey the conclusion physical mediumship is fraudulent from, see Wikipedia page for the SPR [2] there was no single survey, it was the result of research over 100 years. Also see the mediumship article on Wikipedia which has a run down of the fraud [3]. SPR member Simeon Edmunds mentions it in his book Spiritualism: A Critical Study as does Renée Haynes in her book The Society for Psychical Research 1882-1982: A History. London: MacDonald & Co. It's also mentioned by Harry Price in Fifty Years of Psychical Research (1939), Price set up his own laboratory which exposed many of these mediums [4]. Physical mediumship was nothing more than cheesecloth in most cases. As far as I know the only supporters of physical mediumship in the modern era are a few die hard fundamentalist spiritualists such as Michael E. Tymn. Make sure to check out Massimo Polidoro's Secrets of the Psychics: Investigating Paranormal Claims, it exposes many of the frauds such as Palladino and Kluski.Paul Anagnostopoulos (talk) 17:38, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

Hi Paul,

Keep in mind I didn't post the SPR post (they shared a post I made originally). I still am not quite sure that the majority of SPR members disbelieved in physical mediumship, though it wouldn't surprise me, particularly post-1920s. I tend to think that at least 95-99% of the "physical mediums" were proven to be fraudulent at least on occasion, which puts the entire subject on shaky ground. There are cases which are harder to explain, but again I do not endorse paranormality, despite what the person who originally posted suggested.

Would you recommend Haynes's book? I've seen it online many times, but that's actually one that I can't say I own (I haven't even read part of that one). I enjoyed Harry Price's "Fifty Years of Psychical Research" when I read it -I recall that Valientine was one of the exposed mediums and Margery refused to be tested by Price. Though, it is worth noting that the Schneider brothers are more compelling examples of alleged physical mediumship, perhaps with the Stella C case investigated by Price being what I would label one of the "top rungs of the ladder".

I do know that Tymn is a big proponent of physical mediumship. I'm of the opinion that there may have been some legitimacy in some cases, but it is very hard to assess historical evidence (and thus it's hard to make much of them, even with the better cases). So, while I don't say such things "do not exist", I remain largely unconvinced -and ectoplasm strikes me as reeking of fraudulence (don't tell my "Spiritualist" pals that I apparently go to the bar with every weekend that I said that, though.....).

I've actually skimmed through Polidoro's book, but my problem with many of these "new exposes" are that they simply rehash many of the same arguments that were made around the time these "cases" were happening. Palladino, in my opinion, should've been left alone after the Cambridge Investigations (though the Feilding report makes entertaining and interesting reading if one ever needs a good ghost story).

-- (talk) 18:11, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

Hi again 429, no I don't in particular recommend Hayne's book. I just mentioned it because it's a book written by a psychical researcher that agrees physical mediumship (PM) is fraudulent and she was well respected in the SPR (I'm trying not to mention full-blown skeptic books, but see the end of my post for two). People may find it strange that certain psychical researchers and skeptics have much in common when it comes to physical mediumship (PM). The history of the SPR might be surprising to those who are not familiar with it. For example Arthur Conan Doyle lead a mass resignation of over 80 spiritualists from the SPR in the 1920s as they believed the SPR was anti-spiritualist and before that Stainton Moses (a medium) with others resigned from the SPR. This was all due to the SPR members exposing the tricks of William Hope, William Eglinton and Eusapia Palladino (Richard Hodgson, Henry Sidgwick and Frank Podmore all rejected PM). True there always has been a minority of spiritualist SPR members but only a minority. I could only name William Crookes, Oliver Lodge, William Barrett and Cesare Lombroso as spiritualists, contrary to popular belief Charles Richet and Albert von Schrenck-Notzing were not spiritualists but believed mediumship and ectoplasm was the result of extrasensory perception. But that wasn't the "popular" view by psychical researchers, the most "popular" held view was that PM and ectoplasm was fraudulent the result of cheesecloth or rolled up muslin etc. Tony Cornell, Eric Dingwall, Donald West, Harry Price, Walter Franklin Prince and Hereward Carrington wrote on the various PM tricks. There's too many books out there, but the most neutral on the subject is I believe Simeon Edmunds "Spiritualism: A Critical Survey" which comes down pretty hard on PM. The book you mentioned already by Frank Podmore "The Newer Spiritualism" demolishes the Feilding report.
I highly recommend you check out a thread called Parapsychologists admit 98% of paranormal phemomena does not exist it lists psychical researchers who have admitted the majority (up to 98%!) of paranormal topics such as mediumship are fraudulent or have naturalistic explanations (but this is not usually known). Us skeptics only have 2% to work with :) If you want a full-blown no stop rampage skeptic debunking of all mediums from the Victorian period then you should check out Joseph McCabe Is spiritualism based on fraud? [5] and his Scientific Men and Spiritualism: A Skeptic's Analysis, there's no legitimacy in physical mediumship at all, no ifs not buts absolutely every physical medium investigated was discovered to be a fraud (even Stainton Moses), contrary to poplar belief Daniel Dunglas Home was indeed caught in fraud on a number of occasions even by an SPR member Frederick Merrifeld (who was the father of the medium Mrs. Verrall, known for her involvement in the cross correspondences). Home was also caught in fraud by the poet Robert Browning and by a journalist who observed him with a vial of phosphorus oil. If you see the above thread I linked to, the entire exposure from Merrifeld is included which was taken from an SPR journal. Unfortunately Stephen E. Braude ignores these exposures. It is not my purpose to debate this with you here, but perhaps you could try and communicate with Michael E. Tymn or these other spiritualists and get them to acknowledge the literature that has exposed physical mediums as fraudulent. Remember it's not just skeptics who are critical of mediumship, the majority of psychical researchers from the past exposed it as fraudulent as well. Paul C. Anagnostopoulos (talk) 19:20, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Did someone say ectoplasm cheesecloths?
Helen Duncan in a seance with fake dolls which Tymn claims were spirits.
lol Sniffy the Atheist (talk) 20:06, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

Hey again, Paul. Apologies for not responding sooner, as I just got back from work tonight.

Dr. Hodgson was very antagonistic toward PM -one famous quote by him is "Nearly all professional mediums form a gang of vulgar tricksters that are more or less in league with one another" (I may paraphrase some things, since again, I have a fairly apt memory and don't need to look up the actual quote on many occasions). And he intended to publish something before his death listing all the mediums he and the other SPR members exposed (one which would have included Palladino), though I think there was dissent and that was not published. Hodgson was also a very adept amateur conjurer and he is still well-known for his work with S.J. Davey (Hodgson, R., and S. J. Davy. 1887. The possibilities of mal-observation and lapse of memory from a practical point of view. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 4:381-495.), his expose of Mme. Blavatsky and his very intricate research into Mrs. Piper (he was the key researcher into that case, more than James, Hyslop, or anyone).

As for Podmore's considerations in "The Newer Spiritualism", I have to affirm with no small satisfaction that he is one of my favorite figures in the history of psychical research. He came down hard on nearly every physical medium except Home in "Modern Spiritualism" and when the 1910 "update" was written, he felt that the Merrifield letter sent to him was enough to dismiss Home as a very clever conjurer -though he wrote "We don't quite understand how some of the things were done and we leave the subject with an almost painful sense of bewilderment."

I think it is important that any competent parapsychologist can "sort through data" in search of gems. If you can't do that, then you become so open-minded that "your brains fall out". I think 98% is too specific of an estimate, but I agree that most parapsychologists consider the majority of cases to be the result of normal culprits (I certainly do). The question is, when we are left with the remnant, is there anything genuinely anomalous that remains -the answer to that depends on who you ask.

Speaking of the Merrifield letter, though, since you brought it up -that was published long after Home's death, actually as a result of Podmore's reserved statement in Modern Spiritualism that Home had never been caught in fraud. Many people have criticized that letter to be poor evidence for fraud on Home's part, including Andrew Lang (who can't by any means be considered a "gullible believer"). He wrote, regarding it:

"But Mr. Merrifield had written, on August 18, 1855, a record of an Ealing seance of July 1855. About fourteen people sat round a table, in a room of which two windows opened on the lawn. The nature of the light is not stated. There was 'heaving up of the table, tapping, playing an accordion under the table, and so on.' No details are given; but there were no visible hands. Later, by such light as exists when the moon has set on a July night, Home gave another seance. 'The outlines of the windows we could well see, and the form of any large object intervening before them, though not with accuracy of outline.' In these circumstances, in a light sufficient, he thinks, Mr. Merrifield detected 'an object resembling a child's hand with a long white sleeve attached to it' and also attached to Home's shoulder and arm, and moving as Home moved. A lady, who later became Mrs. Merrifield, corroborated.

This is the one known alleged case of detection of fraud, on Home's part, given on first-hand evidence, and written only a few weeks after the events. One other case I was told by the observer, very many years after the event, and in this case fraud was not necessarily implied. It is only fair to remark that Mr. F.W.H. Myers thought these 'phantasmal arms instructive in more than one respect,' as supplying 'a missing link between mere phantasms and ectoplastic phenomena.'

Now this is the extraordinary feature in the puzzle. There are many attested accounts of hands seen, in Home's presence, in a good light, with no attachment; and no fraud is known ever to have been detected in such instances. The strange fact is that if we have one record of a detection of Home in a puerile fraud in a faint light, we have none of a detection in his most notable phenomena in a good light."

The full chapter, from Lang's Historical Mysteries, is here:

It is worth noting that Peter Lamont (in his The First Psychic -Home's biography) stated that the Merrifield letter could have been a forgery and that he was surprised no one had suggested that before (Lamont, again, stated that he thought Home was fraudulent at the end -but I think he's presented the most balanced evaluation of Home yet). I know Mrs. Verrall's maiden name was Merrifield, but I don't recall anyone making that connection (if I've read it, I've forgotten). Where did you get that information from?

The person who observed Home with phosphorus oil was not a journalist, at least to my knowledge, but an elderly woman. In the original source, that's what is said. The woman told Browning that and it wasn't mentioned until decades later. Lang writes and quotes:

"In July 1889 the late Mr. F.W.H. Myers and Professor W.F. Barrett published, in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, p. 102, the following statement: 'We have found no allegations of fraud' (in Home) 'on which we should be justified in laying much stress. Mr. Robert Browning has told to one of us' (Mr. Myers) 'the circumstances which mainly led to that opinion of Home which was expressed in Mr. Sludge, the Medium.' It appears that a lady (since dead) repeated to Mr. Browning a statement made to her by a lady and gentleman (since dead) as to their finding Home in the act of experimenting with phosphorus on the production of 'spirit lights,' 'which (so far as Mr. Browning remembers) were to be rubbed round the walls of the room, near the ceiling, so as to appear when the room was darkened. This piece of evidence powerfully impressed Mr. Browning; but it comes to us at third hand, without written record, and at a distance of nearly forty years.'"

When one thinks about it, Home was never caught in fraud directly and exposed as nearly all other mediums had been and, if he had indeed been fraudulent and been working under the conditions that he sometimes did, I find this remarkable. The greatest assertion we can make is that there may be indirect suggestions and hints of fraud in his seances, but even that doesn't explain the material in question. The only objection I can make to the case is that we are so far removed from it and, even if it appears enigmatic, that does not mean he was genuinely able to do what he was purported to do "psychically". And any good conjurer knows that people tend to see what they want to see, not always remembering details accurately (see the Hodgson/Davey paper I cited above) -so maybe, and this doesn't strike me as terribly implausible in many cases, what happened was not described accurately. If that's the case, then of course we can't evaluate what really happened, as the claims can become more remarkable with each retelling. Still, that seems to be an insufficient explanation for every aspect of the case for Home. I personally have suspended judgement -we don't appear to have little D.D. Home's running around today that we can subject to scrutiny, so we will really have to label it as "not fully solved", but not concrete evidence for the existence of psychic phenomena.

As for Stainton Moses, do you have a good source of an expose on him -not just saying "he could have done it this way", but an actual record of him being caught out in fraud? If not, then he wasn't really "caught in fraud" and we can only speculate. Though, I have seen some very fishy "spirit photos" with him in them (but another "medium" may have actually taken them).

Regarding Tymn, again I'm not closely connected with any of them. I haven't had any email correspondence with the guy in months (though, since he seems to be getting older, I'd hope that people would just let him get along and believe what he wants -I am not necessarily convinced that him believing in ectoplasm and mediumship is in any way really "harmful" and at least he shows some sort of interest in the subject). I will affirm that he does believe in mediums that were obviously fraudulent, since he communicated to me months ago that he thought in many of the exposes researchers were just misunderstanding aspects of the phenomena -that strikes me as a nice brushstroke out of the problem, but that does not mean "he has no credibility", as the original poster stated. I'd simply say that we really do approach these issues through the lens of belief in one guise or another, whether that belief is that the claims are genuine or fraudulent. We tend to highlight what supports our case and minimize or even ignore what doesn't. That's why a position of moderate skepticism needs to be maintained, but not biased dismissal or acceptance (I hope for a day when many people who debate on these issues actually leave their computer chairs and engage in real parapsychological research -talking about these things only gets us so far).

That said, I have one last point to make in accordance with my initial post -parapsychology and skepticism should not be mutually exclusive. Watt makes that point clear and we should all live by that example. If we are all really interested in these questions, we should engage in the actual research -support it. If you aren't happy with the researchers out there, then become a researcher yourself. To me, that is the most logical solution. But I prefer the "doer" approach and the right for the individual to seek answers for himself or herself.

Kindest regards and I've enjoyed the fairly brief conversation (with you, Paul, not the first guy that insulted me). I'll probably pop in on occasion. It's hard for me to stick to forums with college, work and the such, but wherever my name is mentioned in irreverence, with a certain disdain for my interests and assertions to the effect of "my impotence", I will be there -fighting crime and stupidity at every turn.....

Keep up your own reading/research, as you strike me as being sincerely interested in the pursuit of the truth.

--429cage (talk) 06:08, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

Check the rationalwiki article on Daniel Dunglas Home, there was an exposure by Count Petrovsky Petrovo-Solovo. If you want a further debate, join the skeptiko forum. [6] - My user is Tyler Snotgern. All the best. Irreligious Survivalist (talk) 10:39, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
I am in agreement with Paul that mediumship is fraudulent. If you study conjuring like you have claimed to then all mediumship is mostly magic tricks and sleight of hand, deception and suggestion. Unfortunately spiritualists like Michael E. Tymn or Michael Prescott have no experience in conjuring and have never read a book on the topic. They will deliberately ignore any evidence of fraud in mediumship and invent non-falsifiable hypotheses as "escape goats", for example instead of just admitting the beyond ridiculous photograph that depicts fake ectoplasm "doll" mask face with Helen Duncan is a mask face, Tymn claims they only look that way because the spirits had a hard time "materializing" their thoughts in the ectoplasm. This is beyond credulous and bordering a mental illness. No matter the evidence Tymn will go on believing, it gets to a point where you can get angry with such people (practically everything on his blog is an error), he even confuses people like Charles Richet as spiritualists even though they opposed spiritualism. There's too many examples of Tymn ignoring fraud, see his Michael E. Tymn, surely if you want honest research on the subject then you should admit fraud when it occurs, but the spiritualists don't do this. There's solid proof that spiritualist publications ignore and filter out evidence of fraud. The skeptical publications don't do this. As for Tymn's favorite medium Etta Wriedt, she was caught in fraud putting chemicals in her "spirit" trumpet to make explosion sounds, first Tymn denied the exposure (he had never bothered to find it) but then he claimed Wriedt may of done it under the influence of malicious spirits. You can't win with believers such as this. No matter the evidence they will find a way to believe. Tymn's biggest embarrassment is claiming Eva C was a genuine medium. You only need to spend a few hours researching to see that is not the case. I can't find a single blog post on Tymn's website claiming a medium has been caught in fraud. He even claims Henry Slade was a genuine medium. Truth is, he's an old guy in his late 70s is scared of death and needs to believe in a magical spirit world. I have no problem with this, but he fabricates data and ignores evidence of fraud, it is misleading to his readers gullible folk seeking hope who will be fooled and taken in by his nonsense and lies.
As for the truth - Magicians such as David Abbott, Henry Evans, Harry Houdini, Joseph Dunninger, Joseph Rinn, Julien Proskauer etc exposed all the tricks of the fraudulent mediums (some of their books are free online). There really is nothing else to it. Yes the tricks are fascinating to study and sometimes rather ingenious (I could list some clever tricks) involving trap doors and false panels the spiritualists have used in their séances but physical mediumship is mostly dead, the modern mediums hide behind mental mediumship now. As Joe Nickell has written modern self-proclaimed mediums like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Rosemary Altea and James Van Praagh are avoiding the Victorian tradition of dark rooms, spirit handwriting and flying tambourines as these methods risk exposure. They instead use “mental mediumship” tactics like cold reading or gleaning information from sitters before hand (hot reading). So mediumship is just the result of fraud, I don't recommend wasting your life studying it because there is nothing "spiritual" about it, though I understand why many skeptics do because mediums con people out of their money and deserve to be exposed. It amazes me how we are in the 21 century and there are still anti-scientific folk clinging to primitive superstition. As you know magic doesn't exist, it's all illusion. :) Regards skeptic Arouet "Eveshi" Forests. Forests Tyler Snotgern MU (talk) 11:47, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Psi does not exist[edit]

I don't have any faith and I don't believe in anything. Science is not about belief. Anything "paranormal" or "supernatural" is impossible it doesn't exist. There is only nature and the natural laws of the universe, there is no magic or mysticism. Anyone who believes in anything "paranormal" has been duped. There is not a shred of evidence for anything magical. Magic is illusion, all pro magicians can replicate supposed "paranormal" feats. It is all sleight of hand and illusion. Everything has a naturalistic explanation. Nothing paranormal exists. It is magical thinking and anti-science to believe otherwise. Only humans do this, the human brain is attracted to the unknown and the "mysterious" check out the believing brain by Michael Shermer. In short people believe in the paranormal to make themselves feel special or because they have something missing in their life, they are not happy with the natural universe and what is around them, so they have to feed off superstition and fantasies which do not exist in reality. It is a form of delusion. The burden of proof is on the "parnanormal" claimant to prove their claims but it's been 1000s of years and nothing "paranormal" or "supernatural" has been observed because these claims are absurd fantasies, primitive superstition. 1000s of years ago it may of been "ok" to believe in this mystical and magical paranormal nonsense, but science has come a long way since and unmasked such nonsense. We are in the 21st century now and there's no reason to cling to primitive superstition! I will stick to my friend reliable empirical science which says there is not a shred of evidence for reincarnation, mediumship. I see no reason to invoke conspiracy theories that the scientific community are suppressing evidence for reincarnation like the paranormal believers do. The evidence does not exist. Cheers. Jon. Jon Donnis (talk) 13:10, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Of course there's no evidence for psi, why would there be? Nature doesn't deal with magic or fairytales, they exist in the imagination only :) There's no repeatable evidence for psi on record, just pseudoscientific experiments, magical thinking and sloppy errors which scientists and skeptics have easily demolished. Parapsychologists have even admitted it is impossible to eliminate the possibility of non-paranormal causes in their experiments. There is no independent method to indicate the presence or absence of psi. Parapsychologists can't even define psi.
In 2003, James Alcock published Give the Null Hypothesis a Chance: Reasons to Remain Doubtful about the Existence of Psi, where he claimed that parapsychologists never seem to take seriously the possibility that psi does not exist. Because of that, they interpret null results as indicating only that they were unable to observe psi in a particular experiment, rather than taking it as support for the possibility that there is no psi. The failure to take the null hypothesis as a serious alternative to their psi hypotheses leads them to rely upon a number of arbitrary "effects" to excuse failures to find predicted effects, excuse the lack of consistency in outcomes, and to excuse failures to replicate. (1)
Basic endemic problems in parapsychological research include amongst others: insufficient definition of the subject matter, total reliance on negative definitions of their phenomena (E.g.- psi is said to occur only when all known normal influences are ruled out); failure to produce a single phenomenon that can be independently replicated by neutral researchers; the invention of "effects" such as the psi-experimenter effect to explain away inconsistencies in the data and failures to achieve predicted outcomes; unfalsifiability of claims; unpredictability of effects; lack of progress in over a century of formal research; methodological weaknesses; reliance on statistical procedures to determine when psi has supposedly occurred, even though statistical analysis does not in itself justify a claim that psi has occurred; and failure to jibe with other areas of science. Overall, he argues that there is nothing in parapsychological research that would ever lead parapsychologists to conclude that psi does not exist, and so, even if it does not, the search is likely to continue for a long time to come. "I continue to believe that parapsychology is, at bottom, motivated by belief in search of data, rather than data in search of explanation." (1)
In January 2008 the results of a study using neuroimaging were published. To provide what are purported to be the most favorable experimental conditions, the study included appropriate emotional stimuli and had participants who are biologically or emotionally related, such as twins. The experiment was designed to produce positive results if telepathy, clairvoyance or precognition occurred, but despite this no distinguishable neuronal responses were found between psychic stimuli and non-psychic stimuli, while variations in the same stimuli showed anticipated effects on patterns of brain activation. The researchers concluded that "These findings are the strongest evidence yet obtained against the existence of paranormal mental phenomena. (2)
(1)James Alcock. (2003). Give the Null Hypothesis a Chance: Reasons to Remain Doubtful about the Existence of Psi. Journal of Consciousness Studies 10: 29–50.
(2)Moulton, S. T., & Kosslyn, S. M. (2008). Using Neuroimaging to Resolve the Psi Debate. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20, 182-192.
Psi is also a pseudoscience because it involves non-falsifiable hypotheses, Terence Hines comments:
The most common rationale offered by parapsychologists to explain the lack of a repeatable demonstration of ESP or other psi phenomena is to say that ESP in particular and psi phenomena in general are elusive or jealous phenomena. This means the phenomena go away when a skeptic is present or when skeptical “vibrations” are present. This argument seems nicely to explain away some of the major problems facing parapsychology until it is realized that it is nothing more than a classic nonfalsifiable hypothesis... The use of the nonfalsifiable hypothesis is permitted in parapsychology to a degree unheard of in any scientific discipline. To the extent that investigators accept this type of hypothesis, they will be immune to having their belief in psi disproved. No matter how many experiments fail to provide evidence for psi and no matter how good those experiments are, the nonfalsifiable hypothesis will always protect the belief.
Source Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books.
Psi would contradict laws of science such as the conservation of energy, as Mario Bunge comments:
Precognition violates the principle of antecedence ("causality"), according to which the effect does not happen before the cause. Psychokinesis violates the principle of conservation of energy as well as the postulate that mind cannot act directly on matter. (If it did no experimenter could trust his own readings of his instruments.) Telepathy and precognition are incompatible with the epistemological principle according to which the gaining of factual knowledge requires sense perception at some point.
Source: Mario Bunge. (1983). Treatise on Basic Philosophy: Volume 6: Epistemology & Methodology II: Understanding the World. Springer.
Conclusion? Psi is bunk. Only woo-believers who are anti-scientific and believe in fairytales take it seriously. Psi is in the same boat as fairies and flat earth, but do feel free to believe in if it makes you sleep better at night. I have no problem with belief, only dishonest psi-believers claiming their fairytales and magic is scientific. IMO Don't waste time studying fairytales like psi study something real like science instead. Regards, Eveshi. =) Bruce Siegel (talk) 14:12, 9 December 2013 (UTC)