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Evidence for PsiReview - Evidence for Psi
Thirteen Empirical Research Reports
by Damien Broderick and Ben Goertzel (Editors)
McFarland, 2014
Review by Robert Lewis Henry
Jul 14th 2015 (Volume 19, Issue 29)

Paranormal or parapsychological research has always had what would appear to be an 'uphill' battle in terms of recognition in the scientific community.  But as the editors of a new book on the topic "Evidence for Psi: Thirteen Empirical Research Reports" point out in their introduction, in the form of a quote from Carl Sagan, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; to which Damien Broderick and Ben Goertzel are confident that there is much of the latter in Psi research.  As the title suggests, the book is a collection of research projects and articles on the topic of Psi within a peer-reviewed context.  Its scope of interest, well documented case studies, meta-analyses, and compelling conclusions certainly give one pause when considering the whole of Psi research. 

In the prelude to these 13 case studies, Broderick and Goertzel offer a brief description of Psi and their attempt to narrow the field to a heterogeneous class of phenomena.  In virtue of this narrowed field, to which Broderick and Goertzel are eager to exclude such sensational topics as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Witchcraft, ghosts, and other outrageous issues, they highlight those phenomena such as ESP, Mind-Matter Interaction, and survival (the view that the essence of personality survives death).  The phenomena of Psi, as defined by the Parapsychological Association, are argued to have real physical processes that underlie them and as such should encourage more positive research into Psi as a whole. 

Broderick and Goertzel furthermore emphasize the importance of meta-analyses and Bayesian statistical analysis, in contrast to a frequentist approach.  The latter of these is characterized as ignoring the paradigmatic nature of the sciences, whereas the former encompasses a wider theoretical model of the History of Science.  In this spirit, Broderick and Goertzel suggest that such hypotheses as Psi, furtive to specific paradigms of physics, are incompatible to traditional laboratory evidence.  However, this is not to say that Psi is falsifiable or based on unscientific superstition.  Statistical analyses of case studies, to Broderick and Goertzel, present overwhelming evidence of Psi phenomena.  And so, the 13 case studies presented in the book are compelling studies based on meta-analytical, Bayesian principles.

The first research study is "Statistics in Mind-Matter Research," conducted by Jessica Utts.  The researcher, employing a meta-analytical approach, outlines the importance of statistics in disqualifying claims.  Oftentimes, this results in the null effect, but only when ignoring research of patients subjected to the Ganzfeld Effect (the effect when a patient is deprived of all sensory input, replaced by droning images and sounds).Another study, "Physiological Activity and Future Events" features what is referred to as anomalous anticipatory activity, APA, in human physiology and the possibility of predicting future events.  The rest of the research projects move from revisiting the Ganzfeld Effect, Telepathy (even in the context of e-mails and texts), the GCP (Global Consciousness Project-a 15 year collaboration of research that studies the effects of mass consciousness), and even the future of Psi in the scientific community.

The book's main accomplishment is in achieving a legitimatization and authentication of Psi research in the field of Science.  However, when reading the corpus of research provided there almost tends to be an over saturation of statistical, technical language.  The sense is one of a "short man's" syndrome, whose years of being bullied and belittled results in an exceptionally aggressive personality.  And indeed the book gives the impression of having something to prove even in the face of a population of vociferous doubters   However, in spite of this, "Evidence for Psi: Thirteen Empirical Research Reports" provides a comprehensive look at Psi.  It breaks down the discrete elements of Psi, presents reliable and peer-reviewed research on such phenomena, and certainly cracks the door open of skepticism into the possibility of tenable paranormal phenomena in a scientific and philosophical sense.


© 2015 Robert Lewis Henry


My name is Robert Lewis Henry and I am the author of apologetic and academic material. I have also enjoyed a career as a ghost writer for several publications. I received my BA in Philosophy in 2005 and attended graduate school at Vermont College.  I have also contributed to various academic research projects, collaborating on graduate level papers (theses and dissertations) on religion and religious subjects.  I am the author of "Epistemic Justification: Should it be viewed as a Metaepistemic process."



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