Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Could there be proof to the theory that we're ALL psychic?

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So asked this week's Mail on Sunday. We'd say probably not, but this doesn't seem to be the opinion of Dr Chris Roe, a parapsychologist at the University of Northampton. Apparently a "parapsychologist" is someone who studies "the evidence for psychological phenomena, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychokinesis, that are inexplicable by science" and, while it's news to us that British universities employ people to study such things, Dr Roe thinks he may have found evidence that up to 85 per cent of people possess clairvoyant powers.

Amazingly Roe's work has even attracted the attention of eminent scientists, including Professor Brian Josephson, a Nobel-prize winning physicist from Cambridge University, who told the Mail: "The experiments have been designed to rule out luck and chance. I consider the evidence for remote viewing to be pretty clear-cut."

It's all very odd, as are the experiments Roe has been carrying out, which sound like something from A Clockwork Orange:

"Dr Chris Roe places a pair of enormous fluffy earphones over the head of a blonde 20-year-old woman. He carefully slices a ping-pong ball in half and tapes each piece over her eyes. Then he switches on a red light that bathes the woman in an eerie glow, and leaves the room. After a few moments, a low hum begins to fill the laboratory and the woman begins smiling sweetly to herself as images of distant locations start to pass through her mind. She says she can sense a group of trees and a babbling brook full of boulders. Standing on a boulder is her friend Jack. He's waving at her and smiling. She begins to describe the location to Dr Roe. Half a mile away, her friend Jack is, indeed, standing on a boulder in a stream."



Anonymous said...

Parapsychology is indeed a legitimate area of research which investigates claims of paranormal phenomenon. For instance, Edinburgh University has a particularly well-reknowned research unit which produces excellent scientifically sound research published in high quality peer-reviewed journals. It is thanks to researchers like these that we can point out the lack of evidence for these phenomena and the fact that they cannot be reproduced under controlled conditions in a lab. That said, I couldn't comment on Dr Roe's research without actually seeing the details. Please do not assume that all parapsychologists are nutters: some believe, some are sceptics and some are neutral and waiting to see what the data shows them.

maxi said...

I second your hmmmmm.....

Colour me unimpressed.

RPiehowski42@yahoo.com said...

Well I generally try to keep an open mind, but the evidence for this is going to have to be damn good to convince me!

Just a side note- If we do indeed have some kind of psychic abilties (on some level) then the evolutionary explanation for how this came to be is going to be incredibly interesting!

Pete Moss said...

"... it's news to us that British universities employ people to study [parapsychology]"

Have you never heard of Susan Blackmore?
You must have!

Anonymous said...

Susan Blackmore quit parapsychology in quite spectacular fashion, declaring it all delusion, as did Louie Savva who had a similar road to Damascus conversion deciding it was all pointless. Savva was formerly employed at the Northampton University Parapsychology Research Unit as none other than Dr Chris Roe's Research assistant.


Anonymous said...

So five months on and there's still no evidence produced to support Dr Chris Roe's wild claims from the Northampton parapsychology and pseudoscience unit. Anyone care to take bets on how long it will be before a paper is published in a respectable peer-reviewed journal- as opposed to one edited by Dr Roe himself or a colleague?

Anonymous said...

with reference to the last comment. search 'does psi exist' in google and you will find a journal article in the 'respectable peer-reviewed journal' psychology bulletin during the 90's, others have cropped up here and there since.

And with regard to '5 months on there is no evidence supporting the wild claims'. Take a look through parapsychology journals from the last 80 years. Also, the turn over from designing a study, collecting data, analysising and writing up, submitting to a journal and then finally publication is 2 years if you are lucky.

Clegg said...

The only people who disbelieve are those who have never experienced.


Anonymous said...

So, one year on and STILL no sign of the evidence for these psychic claims published in any respectable peer reviewed journal!

The commentator from August 2008 would please note I said "respectable peer revioewed journal"- so that rather rules out the tiny and rather weird parapsychology journals over the past 80 years doesn't it? As for the time taken to get articles into print, the commentator is once again misinformed. Now that most reputable science journals publish papers online prior to print, the "turnaround" after favourable peer review can take place very quickly indeed. We're talking days or weeks rather than years! So once again parapsychology appears to be behind the times- about 80 years behind.

Still at least Dr Roe managed to get some cheap PR for his wacky and underperforming research unit even if he couldn't back up his claims with hard data.

Anonymous said...

So, Two and half years on and there's STILL no sign of the evidence for these psychic claims published in any respectable peer reviewed journal!

Didn't have to be psychic to get the prediction right about that.