The controversial science”

If scientists were paid by results, the last parapsychologist would have long since died of hunger, unfortunately though, there are still foundations, universities and others with more money than sense who are prepared to feed their fantasies, and even publishers who are prepared to publish their lunatic ravings, unsubstantiated assertions, anecdotes and speculative drivel. Parapsychology: The controversial science is the result of the largess of a misguided university and the poor judgement of Rider, part of the Random Century Group.

According to the blurb on the back cover, author Richard Broughton, Director of Research at the Institute of Parapsychology, Durham, North Carolina, does not believe in ‘psi’. Obviously somebody didn’t read the book, for not only is Broughton a believer, he is a “true believer”, a man who waxes lyrical over the “...extraordinary effects produced by the famous medium D.D. Home”, while denouncing CSICOP as a dogmatic “advocacy group” which crusades against parapsychology.

Considering that this book runs to over four hundred pages, one might hope to find some hard evidence that there either is or is no such a thing as psi, yet the author is unable to even come to a concrete conclusion on psychic charlatan Uri Geller, preferring to sit on the fence, although he does admit (page 162) that most of the testimony concerning Geller’s “powers” amounts to mere anecdotes.

He is more positive though on random numbers guessing games where he finds statistical significance in results which deviate by less than 1% from the norm. Much of this sort of nonsense can be traced to J.B. Rhine, but although both Rhine and Louisa Rhine (who continued her husband’s work after his death) are given space, there is no mention of the scandal over Soal’s doctoring of his figures or of Rhine’s evident gullibility.

Broughton also accepts the reality of poltergeist phenomena and, just as incredibly, the chutzpah that self-styled “psychic detectives” have succeeded where the best police brains and forensic science have failed.

“Psychics have led police to bodies or have described locations so accurately that police could find them. Psychics have saved precious time in locating lost children and uncovered vital clues in criminal investigations...For many of these cases sworn law officers have stated that the case would not have been solved without the psychic’s help.”

The truth is that there is not one case on record where a “psychic” has ever provided any police force anywhere with any useful information through “psychic” channels.

The above nonsense could be augmented, but what would be the point? Indeed, what is the point of Broughton’s book? That is easy. On page 361 he laments that “...the funding situation...for serious research is bleaker than it has been in decades.” While at the same time, “...parapsychology’s data are looking more convincing than ever before.” The entire book is a thinly disguised appeal for greater funding, and I didn’t need any psychic powers to work that out.

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