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Old 04-26-2016, 02:31 PM
Quercus Quercus is offline
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: temperate forest
Posts: 6,681
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Another problem with those studies, which is very difficult to solve: Suppose that a major university, or the Department of Defense, or whoever is studying ESP. Eventually, they find that it doesn't work. But meanwhile, what's the headline? "Harvard researchers studying ESP". A lot of people are going to look at a headline like that and conclude that there must be something to it, or else why would they be studying it?
Well, another common issue is that, in the 60s-70s, but occasionally more recently, there were a lot of scientists who understood from physics/etc how to set up a study that was statistically valid, but did not have an appreciation for how complex human beings are compared to, say, electrons. Electrons don't come up with surprisingly creative ways to cheat on tests, or (possibly unconsciously) pick up on subtle cues from people administering tests. Plus there's always the 1 in 20 studies that finds a illusionary but statistically valid association just by chance. So there were a few bunches of studies that really did show statistically! valid! evidence! for ESP.
The researchers with more intellectual honesty and fortitude to question themselves would then eventually put things in place to eliminate various ways of potential cheating, and their subsequent studies showed no evidence. But the first, flawed, ones were the ones that true believers trumpeted

Why people want to believe in ESP is another matter, and maybe the question that really explains the hype.