Misconceptions and Fears of Parapsychology
There are a few reasons why the science of parapsychology remains controversial even though it has produced substantial and persuasive scientific results.
The role of the popular media and the public tends to confuse parapsychology with unscientific beliefs. This confusion and misinterpretation have led some scientists to dismiss the parapsychology field without examining the evidence. Another serious problem is that mainstream media and science rarely publish parapsychology results. The biggest problem is that critics hold a basic fear that psi subjects might be true. Biased assumptions and false accusations are made by critics to dismiss parapsychology subjects.
The following statements on psi and parapsychology are false:
- Parapsychology is associated with evil forces, black magic and witchcraft.
- Anyone who believes in parapsychology subjects is crazy.
- A person who has a psi experience must be crazy.
- Thinking about psi subjects will lead to mental illness.
- Parapsychology suggests the loss of normal boundaries.
- If ESP exists, then mind readers will be able to read my mind.
- The belief in parapsychology leads to a medieval superstitious mentality.
- Psi experiences will affect other normal human development.
- If psi subjects are real, then my religious beliefs must be wrong.
Responses to Common Parapsychology Criticism
Constructive criticism is an essential part of science. Strong skepticism about parapsychology is expected. However, most of the criticisms of parapsychology are neither constructive nor scientific. A majority of the criticisms are instead based on personal prejudices.
One of the most popular criticisms is that psi subjects violate the principles of science and, therefore, are impossible. It is not that psi subjects violate scientific principles. It is that the current understanding of scientific principles are not advanced enough to comprehend these anomalies. Scientific understanding has made great leaps forward, which forces scientists to change and redefine the ever-expanding boundaries of science. Much of what the world knows to be true today was thought to be impossible at one time.
Yet another criticism of parapsychology is that it does not have a repeatable experiment. There is a fundamental problem with expecting parapsychology subjects to have a repeatable experiment. When science mentions a “repeatable experiment,” it means something like a simple application that can be duplicated. For example, when variable (A) and variable (B) are combined, the outcome is always the same no matter who combines the two variables. While this procedure will work in some applications of science, it is inappropriate to hold the social and behavioral sciences to the same standards because it is impossible to recreate the exact variables. Biological, personal and environmental factors will alter each experiment.