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Controversies: ESP and Psychokinesis- Essay Plan
1. ESP- the perception of objects or events without any of the known physical senses being
involved, example is telepathy.
2. Ganzfeld studies of ESP- Honorton created this technique, allowed subjects to be relaxed
and receptive to psi communication. Honorton published an analysis of 28 studies reporting a
success rate of 38%. Isolated red-lit room, with halved tennis balls taped over their eyes and
earphones playing white noise to cut out sensory information- sender in another room
thinking about a picture randomly selected from 4 other pictures.
3. Critical Point 1: There is conflicting evidence for the application of ESP. Hyman claimed that
Honorton's studies were flawed in terms of lack of security and erroneous statistical analysis,
he re-analysed the data and found no evidence of ESP. However, Honorton re-analysed the
data as well but found continuing supporting evidence. Consequently, this implies that it is
difficult to draw causal conclusions from this research due to the conflicting researchers'
4. Critical Point 2: However, evidence was found even when better controlled procedures
were carried out. When Honorton and Hyman worked together a statistically significant
result was found of 34%, which is better than chance. This therefore gives strong evidence
for ESP due to still finding a positive result even when tougher procedures were used.
5. Critical Point 3: There is a methodological flaw with the Ganzfeld studies. Caroll said that
there was clearly a scope for subjective interpretation of the pictures, and what counts as a
match. Also Wooffitt proposed an element of researcher bias, this was that sceptical
researchers did not elaborate their images unlike believers who did, which led to more
positive results. As a result of this, there is the issue of whether the sceptics ("goats") were
deliberately not being thorough enough in their descriptions and the believers ("sheep")
were giving too many hints, undermining the majority of evidence for ESP. This is known as
the "sheep-goat effect".
6. Critical Point 4: There is another methodological flaw with the publishing of some studies.
This is that most of the reports were meta analyses and the outcomes of such reviews
change if some studies are removed, the "file-drawer effect", the views of a researcher
might influence which studies are left in or out leading to a bias. Therefore, it is difficult to
draw definite conclusions from meta analyses.
7. Psychokinesis (PK)- the movement or manipulation of objects or events without any physical
contact- distorting an object or influencing the output of a random number generator.
8. Macro PK- includes moving furniture and bending metal spoons. Batcheldor suggested that
people often feel inhibited and self-conscious about displaying macro-PK, so dealt with this
by beginning his "training" with a deliberately fake levitation event and then gradually
building up the belief during repeat sittings leading to impressive displays of levitation of
objects. Heath said that most people possess such powers but just need some way to
prevent the conscious mind from interfering.
9. Critical Point 1: There is a methodological flaw with macro PK studies, this is that their validity
is challenged by the frequency with which such accomplishments are repeated by magicians.
One example of this was carried out by Randi, two amateur magicians volunteered for
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Therefore this leads us to question how easy it is to fool people into thinking
macro-PK has been carried out.
10.Micro PK- small effects on probabilistic systems like changing the throw of a dice- PEAR uses
a random event generator to investigate it- demonstrated by asking volunteers to influence
REG to come up with more heads than tails.
11.Critical Point 1: There appears to be strong evidence for Micro-PK.…read more