All of onthefence's Comments + Replies

Since when is pre-judging the validity or importance of a subject--in the spirit of "it's obviously nonsense so why even bother studying it?"--considered a "scientific" stance to take? It's dogmatic comments like these that sadly lead many non-scientists to have a less than favorable view on the seeming "objectivity" of the field and its researchers.

Do you actually believe that? That is, if a majority of scientists started instead saying "Actually, we've looked into this, here's a calculation of the expected frequency of non-fraudulent positive results from properly run parapsychological experiments given an assumption of no actual parapsychological phenomena, and here's a survey of results in the field. Notice that the actual positive results are not exceeding the expected positive results given that assumption?" (with the associated responsibility for maintaining such things instead of working on something else), you're suggesting that a majority of the folks who dismiss the objectivity of scientists to go "Oh! Well, all right, then." and decide the scientists really are objective after all? That would really surprise me, if it happened. I expect instead that the majority of those folks are far more likely to continue dismissing scientists, they'll just have some other reason for doing it.

The big problem with parapsychology as a field is that science is all of a piece. Thus, physics is consistent with chemistry, biology and so on. So the question is not "what knowledge can we derive on the assumption that we know nothing?" - but "what knowledge can we derive given what we know already?" And we know really quite a lot about areas that directly impinge on this question.

Basic physics leaves it not looking good for parapsychology as a field in any way. Sean M. Carroll points out that both human brains and the spoons they try... (read more)

The consensus belief that parapsychology is nonsense is not a pre-judgment; it is an informed judgment based on overwhelming evidence.