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Old 04-26-2016, 10:39 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: NY but not NYC
Posts: 29,704
Good quick history of ESP.

For those that don't want to click, here's my two cents. The British Society for Psychical Research pioneered "serious" study in the 19th century. They wanted to be fooled, in reality, and hiring a failed magician as investigator didn't help. J. B. Rhine at Duke did highly publicized work in the 1920s and 1930s. His testing conditions were ridiculously sloppy and were exposed in the 1940s. Just about that time the f&sf community picked up on it as the study of "psionics" and it appears with numbing frequency even in "hard science" stories for two decades, with John W. Campbell, the editor of Astounding, driving off most of his writers by the end of the 50s by his insistence on every story revolving around it.

It's hard to say whether that had an influence on the revival in the 1960s. The advent of psychotropic drugs certainly did and the CIA notably did testing on the subject. Lots of experimenters went after phenomena in different ways. Nothing stuck, because the problem was the same as it was a century earlier: bad test design, the bias of testers toward finding positive results, the easiness with which they were fooled, the difficulty of repeatable and reliable results, and the total lack of a scientific model for transmission.

It's complete and total bullshit. If you find someone who disagrees, ask them for an answer couched in physics, chemistry, or biology.