Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Respons to Adrian Parker

(Download printer friendly PDF of all postings on Adrian Parker's paper in A4 format or US letter format.)

First of all, I must thank Adrian Parker for taking the time to comment on the criticism I have put forward regarding his paper A Compendium of the Evidence for PSI (Parker & Brusewitz, 2003). In a previous discussion, Parker tended to discuss anything but the paper, so I am also thankful for the fact that he restrains himself to the issues questioned. However, as his reply is ridden by the same rhetorical markers as his paper, I am compelled to consider it, not a clarification, but a smoke screen. As Parker has announced that he does not have the time to involve himself in further debate, I will respond to his reply in the form of statements rather than questions.

"I am also a Swedish sceptic so I am thankful for your criticisms, some of which I think are at least in some measure, valid. I do however note a slight tone of animosity which makes you response in danger of loosing all its effect."

In a world where words have no meaning, you can call yourself what you want. And I can call myself a senior lecturer at Gothenburg University. It's all fine and dandy, but unfortunately, it's make-believe. In your paper, you have shown that you praise research that even the more gullible of your peers consider worthless. Regarding the studies I have discussed so far, you systematically neglect the multitude of critique raised against them and claim that the fragment of doubt that you do convey have been refuted. If Social Psychology were to look for a materialization of "confirmation bias", you would be the first in line (you can look up "confirmation bias" in any introduction to social psychology, Mr. Parker). When confronted with a paranormal claim, your impulse is to salute it and pay homage to it without reservation. Mine is to investigate the claim, pretty much like I'm checking your compendium now. By calling yourself a "skeptic", you hope to avoid controversy, but to be a "skeptic" you have to be able to employ rational and critical thinking. So "skeptic" you are not, whatever you choose to call yourself.

"For my part, I have to apologize if my joint paper with Goran seemed just too positive for your taste. However, we repeatedly have said that psi is not proven: I find some of the experiments persuasive to the degree of making me want to do further research."

I'm aware that you state that PSI has not been proven. But you also state that it is impossible to prove phenomena in empirical science – in any empirical science – so by extinguishing proof as a possibility, you render your statement about proving PSI worthless. What you do consider possible is for research to provide evidence, in the case of your listed studies strong but not compelling. Whatever wordplay you choose, the quality of findings in parapsychology will be compared to the quality of findings in other fields.

It is of course hilarious that you have been persuaded by the experiments you have listed, given that you label yourself a "skeptic". If crap science and almost total lack of methodological stringency has that effect on you, no wonder you produce papers like the one at hand and get offended by criticism.

"If I am fooling myself I want to know and research seems a better way than armchair criticism or concerning myself with what comes over at times as rather fanatical criticism. Therein lies the true difference between us."

Of course you are fooling yourself. But my problem is that you are trying to fool others, by deceit and cover-up. And you are doing it by posing as a scientist.

I appreciate your effort to belittle my argument by calling it "armchair criticism" – it is completely in line with the strategy employed in your paper. But since your paper in itself is a result of "armchair science", it is only appropriate that it is confronted with "armchair criticism". I take it you are not conceited enough to label A Compendium of the Evidence for PSI "experimental research". Besides, it seems that the data of your "armchair research" is outperformed by the data of my "armchair criticism".

"Otherwise, let me admit again: you are right that Wiseman rather Hansen thought of the shoe shiner, but once again I ask: Why is this really so very important to you? The shoe shiner was their most promising counter hypothesis and the rejection of that hypothesis was defended by Wiseman. To that extent I was correct about 'Wiseman's defense' but you are correct my statement should have been more precise and less misleading. Of course we can all come up with other cheating scenarios but none of these easily explain Delmore's very high scores on the RNG. Nevertheless I regarded these experiments as a possible exception to valid evidence."

The matter of the "shoe shiner" is important because you claim that Wiseman has refuted something that Hansen has suggested. That is simply not true. Further more, you claim that the Wiseman paper constitutes a defense of the Delmore tests. It does not, in any respect. It is simply a test of Wiseman's own notion and he emphasizes that Hansen's critique – all of it – is valid. The "shoe shiner" was not their most promising counter hypothesis, not even a joint one – that is something you make up as you go along. I repeat: the "shoe shiner" was Wiseman's own idea, tested by himself.

I have not suggested that your statement should be more precise and less misleading. I am claiming that you are deliberately lying and exploiting a well-respected peer's name to promote crap science.

"Delmore's very high scores" doesn't add up to anything since the Delmore tests were seriously flawed in many ways – something you intentionally neglect to mention in your paper and still don't understand. You have not regarded the Delmore tests as exception to valid evidence – you use the authority of a methodologically superior peer, and the fake position you put him in, to include them. That is just plain nasty.

"I note that you never mention that Hansen has himself even as a skeptic believes that the border between what he regards as a genuine psi and magical skills (with in some cause even the use fraud) is a fleeting one. This I hope we can agree is, at least in this context , a cop out, but at least you see the diversity of opinion even amongst magicians such as Hansen."

I do not offer my agreement to anything you write without proper references.

"But why make so much of this when I said myself these experiments were controversial and a possible exception?"

The principle behind your question is precisely why I make so much of it. You have omitted the final, and vital, part of what you said. I quote: "A possible exception might be the Delmore experiments but as we note below these have been defended by no less a critic than Richard Wiseman." You are in essence stating that since Wiseman has defended the Delmore tests, you include them in your listing. Again: nasty, plain nasty.

"The same is true of the early Targ work which does not figure in my proper list and is mentioned included for historical reasons and then the references to both sides of the controversy were given."

Uhm, now you introduce a "proper list"!? But that wasn't published in EJP and nowhere else for that matter. So I'm sticking to what you actually have published. And in that paper, you list the "early" Targ & Puthoff remote viewing tests as evidence for PSI. I trust that your listing of studies providing evidence doesn't list studies that do not provide evidence.

"I do however thank you for pointing out the insufficiently of our statement that the Schmidt RNG experiments were replicated by himself many times. Despite the apparent safe guards, I agree, it is crucially important that they replicated by others and carried out under the critical eye of skeptics and of the three references that were given, one concerned just such conditions of critical observers."

The Schmidt experiments, as well as the Delmore tests, and the Targ & Puthoff research on remote viewing, does not constitute evidence of any kind, to any degree. Those studies are seriously flawed and any serious researcher with integrity should distance him- or herself from them. You don't.

"You are welcome to publish this in its completeness but I hope you understand I have no further time to spend on such debates. This means that you can of course continue with slander (before doing so you might like to ponder why you have 0 comments to your blog) but I hope you have the good nature not to do so and instead see our areas of common concern. I take note of your criticism and should you choose to use your real name, I suggest that we send a joint note to the EJP acknowledging the above points."

As I suspect that you label any criticism of your "work" slander, I will disregard your remark.

As far as the number of comments on my blog goes, it has only been active since Christmas and I already have the second most renowned parapsychologist in Sweden commenting it. And I have returned the favor by being the only one paying any attention to your paper. But I take it you consider that silence as a token of compliance.

I have no interest in doing anything jointly with you. I have no respect whatsoever for you as a scholar or researcher. Such a venture would at best make you able to forward my real identity to your woo-woo followers, at worst let you feed of my efforts that apparently exceeds your own in stringency by far. So I humbly decline your invitation.To acknowledge the above points in a note to EJP is, again, to belittle what should be done. Anything less than an unreserved retraction is futile.

I will continue my review of this Adrian Parker paper. Stay tuned.


Parker, A., & Brusewitz, G., (2003). A Compendium of the Evidence for Psi. European Journal of Parapsychology, 2003, 18, 33-51.

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