Parapsychology needs a good theory

Research in parapsychology delivers solid evidence for the existence of psi, ( another term for psychic phenomena.) Research Techniques such as meta-analysis allow for a combination of data from many different studies.  Long-term performance of psi abilities can be measured over many trials, increasing the efficacy and confidence levels of experimental results.    It is fascinating that the field of parapsychology reaches replicated results comparable to many other fields—even physics!  It is also heartening to consider the variability of human psychic performance—although because some scientists consider it an “extraordinary” ability natural variability does not create adequate evidence.  This does mean, though, that because we are human, psychic performance can vary on any given day. Parapsychology has everything that many more mainstream sciences can boast of—good experimental design based on the scientific method, high confidence levels in the results, statistically significant results, high levels of replicated experiments (despite the fact that 50% of replicated experiments statistically will fail!) and good evidence as a result of meta-analysis.  All of this despite the constraints that “soft sciences” tend to encounter (many psychological factors, such as experimenter effects) and the known variability and spontaneous nature of many psi experiences.  While this seems rather extraordinary, many factors inherent in the scientific established order combine to make the findings of parapsychology quite overlooked.

Yet it seems that what parapsychology lacks most is a comprehensive theory that enables the data to be rationally interpreted (after all, science is a means of explaining phenomena.)  Without this theory, many scientists simply have a difficult time accounting for the evidence (if the evidence is honored as what would occur beyond chance.) As dean Radin points out in his work, this theory-driven view (as well as pre-existing beliefs) also hinders scientists from seeing beyond their own theoretical paradigms.

Why do we lack the theory?  Although we can deduce that evidence for the existence of psi is well-established, more work needs to be done before a truly adequate and comprehensive theory can be developed.  One major area of work needs to be education surrounding the existence and evidence of psi, among scientists as well as the general population.  Without this basis, and directly addressing the very real tendencies of parapsychology to be dismissed for lots of reasons, any interesting theories that are developed will probably not be taken seriously. While parapsychology can continue to play by the rules of science, and certainly amass more evidence (as it is clear that the implications of the evidence are still not very well understood,) I argue that it is perhaps even more important that, based on Radin’s critiques, the information is not only more widely distributed but also in a sense “marketed.”

It is in part a matter of acquiring more information, in particular a variety of studies that can measure different theoretical aspects of psi.  For example, useful studies may include an examination of how psychic information may be filtered through consciousness, and the mechanisms of how this works.  Good theory as broad as the field of parapsychology will require many different types of experiments based on observed and hypothesized results—not just experiments that are still attempting to prove that psi exists.  We need more evidence to be able to adequately explain how it works.  At the same time, it will be essential to attempt to actively work against and directly address the biases that largely keep parapsychology in the fringe—despite the best evidence.

PS–I am not going to debate the ideas presented here.  That is not the purpose, I am not a parapsychologist, and other parapsychologists and scientists have already defended these ideas quite well–so me doing that is very pointless to me.  I do not have to make an argument that psi effects have ALREADY been proven.  The evidence is already out there, if you care to look, including whole books and published studies (please see some of my other articles on parapsychology for links to books you can read, which link to the actual scientific studies.)   I would not, as a matter of integrity, ever do any work under the guise of something I did not believe even existed. Obviously, I am a professional psychic.  I have evidence of its use and purpose every day.  My purpose is not to debate the science with anyone, my purpose is to do my job.  🙂

5 thoughts on “Parapsychology needs a good theory

  1. Hi Victoria,
    There is a theory for psi and another one on the way. Psychologist Jim Carpenter has put out a theory called First Sight. It’s in his new book, published in 2012, which is extremely academic in nature. Based on what I’ve read so far, it appears to be very good.
    I’ve been struggling through the book and taking notes and eventually I hope to reduce this sprawling mass into about 2,000 well chosen words.

    Basically, we have a primary method of perception which has psychic attributes to it. Ordinary perception however, (secondary), is far more effective at 99.9% of what we experience in our lives so we naturally choose to experience the world this way most of the time. However when we encounter ambiguity we become more inclined to suspend our ordinary secondary perception in favor of our primary source.

    1. Hi Craig! Thanks so much for commenting on my blog. I regularly read your blog and I really appreciate your contributions to the link between science and psychic ability, in addition to your fascinating posts on psychic ability and personality, as well as your recent contributions to the TEDx debate, and your thoughts on skeptics.

      I too have been reading First Sight which I find fascinating. I look forward to reading your condensed version. 🙂 If you know of other theories on the way, I would love to hear about those. I am grateful that theories are being proposed. My point here was to note that perhaps if we could find a theory that we can agree on that supports the evidence thus far, it may help the scientific community to take the evidence more seriously since much of science is theory driven. It is interesting though, isn’t it–that both Newtonian Physics and Quantum Physics can co-exist as theories that are taken quite seriously even though we have no “unifying” theory that everyone can agree to that accounts for macro and micro level reality simultaneously. If only the results from scientific experiments on psi were taken as seriously as others!

      This of course does not suppose that skeptics who will refute ANY evidence or theory will then take it seriously. But I still have hope for true scientists who wish to incorporate the experiences of millions of people (as far as psychic phenomena goes) into a true scientific evaluation. Rather than ignoring and shying away from these realities, just because we have no “answers” that are irrefutable. But, once back in the day, we did think Galileo was a heretic and a quack, too, because we thought we had “irrefutable” evidence against his observation of facts.

      I too think that psychic perception is probably primary, and due to it not being respected, taken seriously, or understood by many, in addition to societal and cultural bias, it may be repressed and then becomes something more secondary or at least, not paid enough attention–and maybe something largely unconscious. Bringing these abilities into conscious awareness is what I try to do and teach my students to do.

      Thanks for your contributions Craig and many blessings! -V

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