Sunday, September 20, 2009

Who Can You Trust?

Adrian Parker and Göran Brusewitz have outdone themselves again. In a letter to the Dagens Nyheter editor (Brusewitz and Parker, 2009), the two representatives of the Swedish Society for Parapsychological Research comment on a recently broadcast TV show on paranormal phenomena. The show featured two hosts, one alleged skeptic and one believer, who "investigated" different paranormal phenomena and, every now and then, comments from more renowned people of both sides were cut in. This apparently opened a window of opportunity for Parker and Brusewitz, who writes (my translation):

An important factor in deciding whom to trust, skeptic or proponent, is the question of who appears more reliable. Was it the rather calm proponent Jan Fjellander or the considerably more determined and cocksure skeptic, humanist Christer Sturmark? Who appears more science oriented?

Apart from the fact that Fjellander is a fellow board member of the SSPR, Parker and Brusewitz make no room for doubt that he is the more trustworthy.
Is the board of Gothenburg University aware that one of its psychology professors, Parker, is publicly promoting appearance as a hallmark of scientific legitimacy? Not scientific method, but social appearance - who is the nicer guy? However revolting this notion might be - held by a man who is allowed to teach students in an higher educational setting - it explains why Parker has refused to answer any questions about the paper he and Brusewitz published in 2003, A Compendium of the Evidence for Psi. Instead of addressing specific inquiries, he has suggested that we all should get along and turn our attention elsewhere, away from his paper. In an act of benevolence, he refered me to, not published research, but a TV show. He added some name dropping and ended up proclaiming insolence since his alleged authority didn't rid him of questions about his claims.

But my inclination was all wrong! Asking Parker specific questions about his paper was not in line with scientific reasoning, him trying to be a nice guy was (although I think he failed miserably at that too). Scientific fact does not rest on research and empirical evidence, it is a matter of what people you have socialized with, of how willing you are to neglect research and just be nice. What does it matter that a paper is seriously flawed, as long as we pretend and act as if it isn't? A giftwrapped box of dung is still a gift, isn't it?

In Adrian Parkers world of academic make-believe, deceit is perfectly in order - as I have clearly demonstrated, Parker does not hesitate to fabricate and distort the positions held by fellow researchers. Nor does he feel obligated to explain obvious flaws in his own writings (Garvarn, 2007). In every aspect, he resembles the typical crank. The only paranormal phenomena in this context is the fact that Gothenburg University allows him to waste research funds and teach.

My previous discussions with Parker suggests that he is the last person to ask for advice on whom to trust, especially regarding science. I would even go as far as stating that the term "science" has no meaning to Parker - he makes it up as he goes along. And if it has some particular meaning, Parker does not have to submit to it.
Garvarn. (2007). Web document: Adrian Parker's Fabrication of Reality.Part I: The Delmore Tests. URL:

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

Parker, A., & Brusewitz, G., (2009, September, 12). Paranormala fenomen långt ifrån tillräckligt utforskade. Dagens Nyheter.