Pseudoscience

Updated 6/2017. My apologies to you if you read the earlier version. I see that I wrote the draft quite a while ago and probably hurried off to work on the next ATransC NewsJournal. This essay was never revisited but was posted along with other articles when I migrated to WordPress.

Working mostly alone, an important resource I lack is a proof reader. It shows. Please consider dropping us a note as you find structural errors in these essays. Else their value is overshadowed by the shabby construction.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary Definition of Pseudoscience:

A system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific. pseu-do-sci-en-tif-ic, an adjective

Skeptic’s Definition:

A belief or process which masquerades as science in an attempt to claim a legitimacy which it would not otherwise be able to achieve on its own terms; it is often known as fringe- or alternative science. The most important of its defects is usually the lack of the carefully controlled and thoughtfully interpreted experiments which provide the foundation of the natural sciences and which contribute to their advancement. Stephen Lower, Chem1 Virtual Textbook (1)

US Government:

Pseudoscience has been defined as “claims presented so that they appear [to be] scientific even though they lack supporting evidence and plausibility” (Shermer (3) 1997, p. 33). In contrast, science is “a set of methods designed to describe and interpret observed and inferred phenomena, past or present, and aimed at building a testable body of knowledge open to rejection or confirmation” (Shermer (3) 1997, p. 17). Science and Engineering Indicators 2006 National Science Board.(2)

Please note that Michael Shermer is an opinion setter for the skeptic community. In a practical way, the Skeptic’s and US Government definitions are from the same opinion setter. The fact that skeptics want to make pseudoscience illegal to protect the country, and that the government echoes the skeptic’s position, should give paranormalists reason for concern that their freedom to study these subjects might be in jeopardy.

Practical Definition:

A derogatory term coined by skeptics to label subjects with which they disagree. This disagreement is seldom based on the presence of bad science, but rather because, in the skeptic’s view, the subject is not supported by orthodox science. This term is virtually always used in conjunction with efforts to convince an audience to dislike, mistrust or even fear the subject. Use of the term is often indicative of scientism. Tom Butler – See Skeptic

Scientism:

The belief that science, the scientific method and work product is the only way to validate reality. In practical terms, scientism holds that, if something is not recognized by mainstream science, it is not real and is, therefore, impossible. When people, under the cloak of authority of science, advise the public about any subject without first becoming informed about its nature, for instance calling the subject pseudoscience, they are effectively practicing scientism. Tom Butler


Introduction

March 2014, I was notified by a Wikipedia Administrator that (in part):

Wiki-StopThe following sanction now applies to you:

Topic banned from Rupert Sheldrake in accordance with the terms at WP:TBAN

You have been sanctioned per this arbitration enforcement request

This sanction is imposed in my capacity as an uninvolved administrator under the authority of the Arbitration Committee’s decision at Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Pseudoscience#Final decision and, if applicable, the procedure described at Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee/Discretionary sanctions. This sanction has been recorded in the log of sanctions for that decision. If the sanction includes a ban, please read the banning policy to ensure you understand what this means. If you do not comply with this sanction, you may be blocked for an extended period, by way of enforcement of this sanction—and you may also be made subject to further sanctions.(4)

In effect, I was banned forever from arguing that the work of Rupert Sheldrake was valid science; not pseudoscience. The complaint was stated in terms of “Downplaying rejection by the scientific community” and “Further fringe promotion, rewording beliefs into ‘hypothesis’” It was brought to the sanctions enforcement court by User:Second Quantization, with the conclusion that “This editor has been problematic over a prolonged period in the topic area of pseudoscience and fringe science.”

My “prolonged period in the topic area of pseudoscience and fringe science” began in 2006 with my attempts to balance the Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) page.

Second Quantization is a pseudonym, which means I was charged in Wikipedia court by a pseudoperson. (humor) The complaint notes that “User:76.107.171.90 did much of the legwork for the diffs” (evidence). This editor is only identified with his IP address because the person has not bothered to establish even a screen name. It is in red because the editor has not added text to his/her personal page.

Implications

It is well-known that editing the articles about paranormal subjects in Wikipedia has been taken over by skeptics. While I was actively trying to balance the articles, I witnessed virtually all of the moderate editors driven off, banned for life, or like me, followed by skeptic trolls wanting to revert my every edit. (Yes, Troll is an official Wikipedia term.)

Consider the impact Wikipedia has on the general public. It is an important opinion setter, and typically the first result in search results for most subjects. The skeptic community is much better organized than the paranormalist community, and with the perception of mainstream truth, it has the ear of many governments, including the US Government. (17)

The objective of the skeptic community is to eliminate claims of truth that do not comply with established mainstream science. The term they use for such fringe subjects is pseudoscience. They literally want to make paranormal subjects illegal.

Fact of Paranormal Phenomena is the Issue

For nearly sixty years, people around the world have recorded EVP. Careful, well-educated people have devised ways to test EVP in an effort to determine what causes the phenomenal voices. In many cases, good science has been conducted, leading to peer-reviewed reports that reinforce the one important fact that no known physical principle has been found to explain the existence of EVP. If a physical explanation cannot be found, then it is sensible to look for nonphysical explanations.

In a different forum, researchers have discovered that it is possible to influence the environment at a distance with intentionality. Substantial research has been conducted on what is commonly referred to as psi functioning. Psi functioning is a term used to denote mental influence on a hypothetical psi field which is thought to permeate the physical.

Since current instruments of science do not directly detect the psi field, it is studied by detecting how it affects physical or biological processes, or by examining the validity of apparent psi (psychic) access to information. For instance, random event generators are known to become less random when near a group of meditating people. (5) Similar changes have been detected during successful remote viewing sessions. If a physical explanation cannot be found to explain these effects, then it is sensible to look for nonphysical explanations.

By all reasonable standards, the scientific method is often followed in these studies, making the pseudoscience accusation technically baseless. Apparently, the real reason for the pseudoscience branding is that skeptics, acting as apologists for science, believe that mainstream science does not allow for the existence of these phenomena and therefore they cannot be real. The net result has been that the possible benefit to humankind brought by these and similar phenomena has only partially developed. If the skeptics prove successful, the benefit will never manifest.

The Scientific Method

Science is basically the organized inquiry into the nature of reality. In its simplest form, it is observation of nature leading to a hypothesis describing what is observed. This in turn leads to predictions about the behavior of what has been observed. For science to be practiced, these predictions must be able to be tested and tests results must be able to be used to modify the hypotheses so that it can better describe the behavior of nature.

Anyone can conduct science; however, three very important elements are considered necessary if real science is to be conducted. The most important is that there must be a well-considered protocol describing how the predictions are to be tested. This protocol should be designed to assure that unnoticed artifacts of the experimental process do not contaminate the results or lead to misleading conclusions. The protocol must also allow for the collection of results that might confirm or disprove the theory.

The second element is development of a research report and some form of media for publication that allows for vetting of the report by a community of subject-matter specialists. Conducting science requires that qualified people are able to review the results and agree that the hypothesis has been tested and the results have been analyzed to produce a reasonable conclusion. Here, reasonable will generally be determined by best practices for that field of study. For instance, trans-etheric influences are experienced or detected differently than are physical phenomena such as apples falling from a tree. It may be unreasonable to arrive at a firm conclusion about the meaning of an EVP and there should be many more indeterminate results in etheric studies than there are in physics.

The third element is a history of prior research. This is a body of knowledge developed over time which will help to provide a foundation for development and evolution of the hypotheses. In principle, science is conducted in a continuum so that the present inherits some characteristics of the past and contributes to the future. Prior art is very important in Science.

In mainstream society, the practice of science is conducted by a well-established community supported by universities and professional organizations. It is funded by an established network of government and private funding. The community has evolved a culture of professionalism and peer pressure with many, often active lay-supporters.

Inappropriate Science

As a frontier field of study, the number of people studying paranormal phenomena is relatively small. It has only been recently that some of the New Age and religious beliefs have given way to research-based understanding. The net result is that the scientific history is very short, and the number of studies for any single aspect may be small if there are any at all.

Studying the effectiveness of alternative medicine is probably best done using the same techniques used for mainstream medical studies. But in some frontier subject, the usual methodology of mainstream science may be inappropriate. The etheric is hypothesized to be a mostly conceptual environment in which intention may be an equivalent to force in the physical. Any protocol that does not consider the apparent impossibility to shield from psi influences, is simply inappropriate.

Statistical analysis has its place, but one should remember that some phenomena are very rare. Yes, a Class A example can be dependably recorded by a confident practitioner given enough sessions, but statistical analysis can be expected to reject the rare Class A example simply because it is considered a statistical outlier. (18)

Another example of possibly inappropriate science is the approach to testing experimental repeatability. This is discussed in the critique of two failure to replicate-kinds of articles published by the Journal of Scientific Exploration.(6) Their protocol called for use of untrained college students as practitioners. Recording EVP is repeatable to a point, but like many mundane practices, it is very difficult to conduct research if one does not have a skilled practitioner. The conclusion that the protocol had effectively tested the subject is not supported by best practices.

While it is fine for a layperson to conduct studies of paranormal phenomena, it is inappropriate to report the results as good science if the person is not trained in an applicable discipline. For instance, EVP needs to be studied from an electronic technology (physics) perspective first and perceptual (psychology) second. A degree in psychology alone is not sufficient unless the study is restricted to questions of perception.

A common reason for the accusation of bad science is the idea that only successful results might be reported while unsuccessful results remain unreported in the file drawer.(7) However, as a point of order, the file drawer effect cannot apply to research if it is conducted by a person who is working out of his or her discipline. Research that fails this test should not pass peer review.

Pseudoscience

Pseudoscience is a term adopted by skeptics to describe everything that does not conform to their sense of what is scientific. It is a very effective term because one of the main characteristics listed for pseudoscience is that people who practice pseudoscience will naturally argue that they conduct real science, thus confirming the prediction.

To be clear, there are fields of study to which these characteristics apply. The problem is that skeptics likely do not know enough about the fields to simply write them off with a derogatory name. At the very most, one must consider that a questionable field is possibly emergent science, but remains theoretical, awaiting better research.

For instance, I have studied transcommunication for many years and still do not think I know enough to say any particular theory is wrong. Radio-sweep is a good example. I have come out against using it for EVP because it makes no metaphysical sense and produces too many false-positives to be practical for use by people new to the field. Still, I am open to the idea that proper studies might produce information that changes my mind. I am not wise enough to think otherwise.

Commonly Cited Characteristics of Pseudoscience

Having an easy name for the subject of conversation is useful for communicating ideas. Except in rare confrontation, skeptics only talk about the study of paranormal phenomena from the perspective of explaining the subject to the public. They write articles for the public, their websites and magazines are targeted for the public or other skeptics and they have conferences to promote their point of view to the public. As you read this essay, keep in mind that the term is about thing paranormal, but directed by the skeptics to the general public as a warning sign, so that: “This is what pseudoscience means and beware that it describes this subject.”

The skeptic’s message is that pseudoscience is dangerous and harmful to the greater good of our country. Once a subject is established as pseudoscience, it is a small step to make it illegal. We have a taste of this with the way the Federal Government jailed Wilhelm Reich and burned his books.(19)

Listing characteristics is a common approach used by skeptics to explain how to recognize pseudoscience. As you might expect, they include everything skeptics don’t like about all things paranormal. The lists include more or less the same elements. Below, I used one beginning with dogmatic because that is a characteristic I have most often noted amongst paranormalists.

While you may encounter these characteristics amongst paranormalists, it is important to note that there are reasons for this that are apparently not considered by the skeptics. As you read this list, try to first view the characteristic from the perspective of a doubter and then from the perspective of an advocate.

The characteristic often listed for pseudoscience by skeptics include: (8)

Dogmatic; ignores contradicting facts

Here, contradictory facts are those which contradict mainstream science. Anything that is concerned with psi phenomena, including survival phenomena, is contradicted by the mainstream contention that there is no such thing as a psi field or psi functioning.

Dogmatic comes in when we are told that psi is pseudoscience and we say it is not.

Paraphrasing from the paranormalist’s point of view:

Frustrated, seeking better guidance from learned scientists.

 Subject to confirmation-bias by selectively reporting evidence and research results

Confirmation bias can be understood as the tendency of a person to think evidence supports beliefs, even though it may not. It also implies that a person will only report experiences that support beliefs.

Read the Open Letter to Paranormalists essay. (9) In it, I describe how some parapsychologists deliberately ignore studies related to survival, apparently to strengthen their original assumptions. This would be a clear case of confirmation bias.

In science, the tendency to report only supporting research is referred to as the file drawer effect(7) as research that does not support the theory is hidden in a file drawer. An alternative version of the file drawer effect is the rejection of reports the journal judges do not agree with, thus converging the field toward a status quo. (20)

In parapsychology, Exceptional Experiences Psychology seeks to identify ways in which people who believe in things paranormal tend to report experiences defined by the researchers as ordinary experiences.

In a fifteen-second video loop session, I record around 450 video frames (like single pictures), but only keep fifteen or so and only find six or seven keepers which I save and sometimes report as examples. You can argue that this selection of only the feature-producing frames is selective reporting.

The same sort of selection happens in EVP as we listen to many minutes of EVP before finding a Class A or B utterance. Meanwhile, we usually hear many more Class C, which we ignore.

The fact is, we are looking for an effect which is produced by applying a theory. We predict an average rate of occurrence of the examples, and so, the presence of an example supports the theory. You can apply the same test and demonstrate this for yourself. (Fewer than expected features also indicate the equipment was not set up correctly.)

And so, looking at it from the paranormalist’s point of view, repeatability is based on having a qualified practitioner correctly applying a procedure. Validation is based on agreement with a set of previously known characteristics. We would paraphrase this point as:

A practitioner reports examples which agree with previously known characteristics and ignores all else while seeking a reason for the rate of occurrence of the examples.

Hypotheses cannot be tested

This argument may be true of some of the global questions such as the existence of a first cause, but the real subject skeptics are trying to make go away concern questions of cause and effect that can be tested. Researchers are not saying that there is some godly intervention which cannot be tested. They are saying that “If we do this, this happens.” That is a very testable hypothesis. For instance, if a video loop is set up in a certain, repeatable way, a resulting recording will often contain human faces that are detected by others without prompting. Where those faces come from, and why, are separate issues. People speculate, and in some cases, that speculation can be tested.

From the paranormalist’s point of view, this is better stated as:

Inability to attract more and better-funded researchers has hampered examination of theory.

No evolution in understanding or theory

This is a typical problem of frontier subjects, in that there is such a small population of people actually studying the phenomena. In fact, understanding does evolve depending on the time people are able to study the subject and available funding.

Consider the number of people involved, funding and mainstream popularity of such science projects as the Large Hadron Collider and the Hubble telescope. All of the people studying psi and survival phenomena would probably not match the number of people on the human resource recruiting staff for either project.

The funding and number of scientists have a direct effect on the progress in a field. Compared with mainstream science, there is hardly any noticeable progress. But there is progress. We have all of the ATransC NewsJournals on atransc.org. If you examine the first few and last few, you will see some progress in understanding. Then read Your Immortal Self (10) or examine the Concepts section of ethericstudies.org. We are making considerable progress in survival research, and much of that is only because of the progress made in psi studies.

From the paranormalist point of view, this can be stated as:

An observer informed about available resources in the field will note progress in theory and understanding.

An appeal to recognized authority is used to support claims

There are two sides to this. In terms of major ideas such as quantum mechanics, psi phenomena behave a little like they might be governed by quantum principles. This is a hypothetical link. Yet, it is becoming increasingly popular to claim some aspect of a favorite phenomenon is governed by quantum principles. Skeptics sometimes refer to this appeal to authority as Quantum Mysticism.

With that said, as we study these phenomena, it is important that we first attempt to apply known physical principles. It is expected that some will apply, but experience has shown that none explain the core characteristics indicating a psi field or survival. Researchers attempt to incorporate those that do seem to apply, into their models. For instance, I speculate that stochastic amplification is involved in the expression of intended order. That, at least, gives me something to test.

Right or wrong, trying to apply existing theory is not proof of pseudoscience. It is proof of inadequate education or lack of resources to test a related hypothesis. In some cases, referencing existing authorities indicates that the researcher has conducted the necessary literature surveys to determine if existing work applies.

A paranormalist might paraphrase this point with:

Researchers are expected to recognize and test the applicability of known physical principles.

Metaphorical/analogy driven thinking

When a person reports an experience for which there seems to be no normal explanation, it is natural to look about for alternative explanations. When the person finds that others have a similar experience and the community of experiencers generally agree that the experience is paranormal, then it is human for the experiencer to begin thinking the experience is also paranormal.

It is also normal to compare the strangeness of possibly paranormal experiences to the strangeness of quantum phenomena. For instance, the apparent nonlocality of quantum entanglement is comparable to the apparent nonlocality of psi functioning. The two may exhibit this characteristic for very different reasons, but researchers would be remiss if they did not at least attempt to integrate the two models.

Experiencer’s acceptance of a belief-based explanation is likely what the skeptics are referring to. However, lacking learned guidance from science, it is natural for experiencers to develop a belief-based explanation for paranormal experiences. Metaphors are useful as a tool for understanding experiences and sharing ideas, but are not intended to be science. In the end, it is up to the scientists in the community to provide constructive guidance.

This characteristic might better be stated as:

Observers of the paranormalist community must be sufficiently informed to distinguish between experiencer’s belief and researcher’s theoretical understanding.

Anecdotes as evidence

It is true that, as with the early naturalists of mainstream science, paranormalist field research often involves observing and reporting on what was observed. This is especially true today for the study of survival-related phenomena. Psi functioning studies have been conducted under very controlled conditions managed following scientific methodologies.

The paranormalist might say:

Assumption of ignorance is the first tell of a skeptic.

Lack of explicit mechanisms

My early education did not include continental drift. That came later as a mechanism for it was finally accepted. Looking back, many really good geologists were convinced of the theory before that. As I look at it now, their theory was seen as a hypothesis looking for a proper model. That was seen as good science.

Early efforts to explain some paranormal phenomena were actually efforts to develop a reasonable hypothesis. It has been only recently that useful models have begun to emerge. The Trans-Survival Hypothesis and resulting Implicit Cosmology are my efforts to explain such a model. (11) (12)

The reason paranormalists prefer terms such as frontier science or emergent science is that they recognize the study is very new and that it is unreasonable to expect it to come into being with a full-fledged model. Skeptic’s expectation that it should is further sign of their determination to protect the status quo, rather than to embrace new ideas.

A paranormalist would counter with:

Insistence on recognition of a mechanism before research has been conducted indicates poor understanding of science.

Special pleading (elusive evidence)

EVP have typical characteristics which make them difficult to understand. My studies indicate an average 25% correct word recognition of Class A by inexperienced listeners. (13) Anyone can expect to replicate the process of collecting an EVP, but Class A examples are relatively rare, and experience is sometimes necessary to collect one. As in most human endeavors, there appears to be a natural distribution of ability to record EVP, so that the combination of rarity and limits in natural ability makes it difficult for a casual observer to test the hypothesis. (6)

Trans-etheric influences can be described as a conceptual influence causing an objective effect. A major problem in the study of paranormal phenomena is that this influence appears to depend on the observer as a conduit, and cultural beliefs appear to influence the manifestation of the effect. Thus, we see worldview play a large role in the way these effects manifest. In this way, we see that a person who accepts the possibility of paranormal phenomena is more apt to experience them.

To the uninformed, attempts to explain these limitations can appear to be special pleading; however, the ability to experience the phenomena can be taught to a willing person with objective results. In that way, the argument would appear to a lazy investigator as special pleading.

A better way to approach this characteristic would be to say:

Investigators should expect to do the work to become properly informed about the nature of the phenomena to be investigated.

Conspiracy theory

I was often assured by skeptic Wikipedia editors that there was no conspiracy by science to suppress our study. This is a good example of the tyranny of the majority. They can think they are doing us a favor by protecting us from delusion.

In a real sense, each person seems to assume that people further out on the frontier of thought is wrong. With that belief comes an apparent cultural norm that it is okay to ignore the more frontier person’s argument. Even in the paranormalist community, the majority of parapsychologists do not accept survival hypothesis while a smaller number do not even accept the psi hypothesis.

Feedback I have received on the Open Letter to Paranormalists Commentary Essay (9) makes it clear that many people think I am paranoid. The discourse is seen by them as Conspiracy Theory 101. Of course, this bothers me, but it is difficult to ignore the evidence. But which is it? Am I paranoid, or are those who think I am simply ignoring the facts, misinformed? In my mind, the answer will come when some parapsychologist promises one of my doubters an honest study of their ability but then reports that the person is likely delusional or cheated.

I would answer this one with:

Investigators need to distinguish assumption from fact.

Concept is described for the public rather than scientists

I write for the public but am mindful that academics might one day measure what I say. There are expectations scientists have that can only be met by other scientists. For instance, academics depends on their work being cited for credibility. In turn, more credibility results in more citations. In a real sense, that is how scientific truth is established. I am aware of no similar system of collaboration amongst paranormalist laypeople.

Without a doctorate, it is unlikely any of my work will be cited. So, while I attempt to be a good technical writer, I have no delusion of credibility amongst the paranormalists holding a Ph.D. Being ignored by academics is depressing, but not as depressing as knowing that the kind of shunning I experience from some Ph.Ds. is exactly the kind of shunning they experience from mainstream scientists. I take little pleasure in it, knowing that the inability for parapsychologists to access research funding hurts all of our community.

Parapsychologists appear to be very aware of this accusation from mainstream scientists and respond by overcompensating with ultra-scientific writing styles full of statistical analysis and scientifically obscure terminology. This approach has not accomplished its intended objective but has made it too difficult for laypeople to follow their work. When there is overcompensation, writing for scientists tends to defeat the purpose of writing.

The obvious answer is for all of us who are in this community to work together. I, for one, have exhausted my ideas for making that happen.

I can think of no good counter statement for this, as many of us are, indeed, guilty of directing our work toward the greater community.

Alternative Terms for Pseudoscience

Other than pseudoscience, skeptics will sometimes refer to science they disagree with as junk science. This is often used in political and legal context to brand science as spurious. Junk science is not commonly considered fraudulent but is usually thought of as evidence of ignorance.

A second common derogative term is pathological science, which is a reference to science which involves barely detectable phenomena that are then reported a being carefully studied.

It is interesting that this term is an example of circular referencing. Irving Langmuir coined the term.(15) He has the 1932 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and probably ran into a good deal of bad science. According to Langmuir, symptoms of pathological science:

  1. The maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity, and the magnitude of the effect is substantially independent of the intensity of the cause.

  2. The effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit of detectability. Or, many measurements are necessary because of the very low statistical significance of the results.

  3. Claims of great accuracy.

  4. Fantastic theories contrary to experience.

  5. Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment.

  6. Ratio of supporters to critics rises up to somewhere near 50% and then falls gradually to oblivion.

These characteristics are very similar to other such lists that can be found around the Internet and rather similar to the one above for pseudoscience.

Scientism

If skeptics are associated with an ideology which amounts to a faith-based view, it would be scientism(16) which

is the ideological belief that science—mainstream science—is the only authority on the nature of reality. It is helpful to understand this. When confronted by skeptics, it is important to determine whether or not they are concerned with the validity of your point of view because they have sincere questions or simply refuse to consider your proposition because it is contrary to their worldview. If it is the later, then you may as well change the subject.

It has been my experience that skeptics might be evasive about the reason for their interest. They will feign interest but disagree with you in the end no matter what you say. There have been times I have finished a conversation with a person, thinking I succeeded in making my point, only to learn in later days that the person was faking agreement.

Relative Scientism

A surprisingly common form of scientism in the paranormalist community shows up in the bait-and-switch study. Rather than thinking mainstream science has all of the answers, it is a modified form of scientism in which mainstream science as it is enhanced by a favored theory has all of the answers.

To study paranormal phenomena under controlled conditions, it is necessary to have competent practitioners. In most examples I have seen of this form of scientism, the researcher ultimately does not accept the possibility of the phenomena, and so, seeks to use reportedly successful practitioners to prove their point. Of course, it is necessary to mislead practitioners into thinking the researcher has the practitioner’s best interest in mind.

Community Response

If you are actively seeking understanding about possible survival of personality beyond physical death (transition), trans-etheric communication (transcommunication including audio ITC (EVP) and visual ITC), reported hauntings phenomena (trans-etheric influences) and the nature of subtle energy involved in such human abilities as remote viewing and healing intention (psi functioning), then you are a member of the paranormalist community.

Take a little time to search the Internet in an effort to find our community. If you search for skeptic, you will find page after page of listings for pro-skeptical websites. That community is clearly branded. In comparison, the paranormalist community has no such clear identity. For every apparently serious study group such as the Parapsychological Association, there are hundreds of groups talking about ghosts or trying to sell classes, and lately, selling ghost hunting hardware.

Did you know that the religion known as Spiritualism is more properly a member of this community than it is a religion? Did you know that parapsychology includes Ph.Ds with interest ranging from anti-psi field and survival phenomena to just a few who consider survival a possibility? Which amongst paranormalists groups found with Internet searches practice objective examination and which base their understanding on belief? If you cannot tell, don’t expect mainstream society to know.

Our first task is to learn how to look like a community. We can begin to do that by learning to talk with a common vocabulary; one that does not feed the monster skeptic or make what we think is true sound like religious dogma. But before we begin, it is important that we know who we are.

Because I try to be very specific about the words I use, and consistent in how I use them, a major part of the Your Immortal Self (10) book is a Glossary of Terms. You can find an early version on ethericstudies.org. (21)

Take a very close look at the way skeptics, and now the US Government, use pseudoscience in their literature. Pay attention to the fact that I was blocked from defending a parapsychologist in Wikipedia because the skeptics were able to argue that I was supporting pseudoscience. It did not matter what I said, just that I was openly in favor of something they have successfully identified as pseudoscience. Note also that they are the ones who defined the term.

Our freedom to study these phenomena is not assured. It is arguable that the primary motivation to attack us is not for the good of the country, but in defense of the skeptic’s religion … either scientism or one of the main religions. It may be illogical for them to attack us, but then, belief-based thought is seldom logical.

Reference

  1. Lower, Stephen. 2008 “Pseudoscience.” Chem1 Tutorial. chem1.com/acad/sci/pseudosci.html.
  2. “Science and Engineering Indicator 2006, Chapter 7: Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding.” National Science Foundationwayback.archive-it.org/5902/20150818094952/http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind06/c7/c7s2.htm.
  3. Shermer, Michael. 1997. Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company. See michaelshermer.com.
  4. “User:Tom Butler.” Wikipedia. 2014. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Tom_Butler#Arbitration_Enforcement.
  5. Radin, Dean, “Experiments Testing Models of Mind-Matter Interaction,” Dean Radin. deanradin.com/FOC2014/Radin2006MarkovRNG.pdf. originally published Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 20, NO. 3, pp. 375401, 2006
  6. Butler, Tom. “Critiquing ITC Articles written by Imants Barušs.” Etheric Studies. 2010. http://ethericstudies.org/failure-to-replicate-itc/.
  7.  Novella, Steve (2010). “The ‘File Drawer’ Effect: Failure To Publish Negative Studies,” April 2010. Better Health Network (News, Opinion, Research). getbetterhealth.com/the-file-drawer-effect-failure-to-publish-negative-studies/2010.04.01)
  8. Desai, Rajiv. “Imitation Science.” Dr Rajiv Desai: An Educational Blog. 2013. drrajivdesaimd.com/2013/12/01/imitation-science/.
  9. Butler, Tom. “Open Letter to Paranormalists: Limits of science, trust and responsibility.” Etheric Studies. 2017. ethericstudies.org/open-letter-to-paranormalists-science/.
  10. Butler, Tom. Your Immortal Self, Exploring the Mindful Way. AA-EVP Publishing, 2016. ISBN 978-0-9727493-8-1. ethericstudies.org/immortal_self/
  11. Butler, Tom. Trans-survival Hypothesis. Etheric Studies. 2015. ethericstudies.org/trans-survival-hypothesis/.
  12. Butler, Tom. Implicit Cosmology. Etheric Studies. 2015. ethericstudies.org/organizing-principles/.
  13. Butler, Tom. “EVP Online Listening Trials.” Association TransCommunication. 2008. atransc.org/evp-online-listening-trials/.
  14. “Welcome to the CRV-REG Study.” Sponsored by The International Remote Viewing Association. crvreg.org/
  15. Carroll, Robert T. “Pathological Science.” The Skeptic’s Dictionary. 2015. skepdic.com/pathosc.html.
  16. Koukl, Greg. “Sagan and Scientism.” Stand to Reason. April 22, 2013. https://www.str.org/articles/sagan-and-scientism#.WTNbdWjyuUk.
  17. Stemman, Roy. “Skepticism: The New Religion.” Spiritualist Society of Reno. 2010. spiritualistsocietyofreno.org/skepticism-new-religion/
  18. Butler, Tom. “EVPmaker with Allophones: Where are We Now?” Association TransCommunication. 2011. atransc.org/evpmaker-study-where-are-we-now/.
  19. “Biography of Wilhelm Reich.” The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust. 2011. wilhelmreichtrust.org/biography.html
  20. Evrard, Renaud, Glazier, Jacob W. “Beyond the Ideological Divide in Near-Death Studies: A Tertium Quid Approach.” Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology. 2016. exceptionalpsychology.com.
  21. Butler, Tom. “Glossary of Terms.” Etheric Studies. 2014. ethericstudies.org/glossary-of-terms/.

Leave a Comment