Science vs Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience: a field of study that masquerades as a science but lacks certain important characteristics.
- Characteristics of Pseudoscience:
- Irrefutable hypotheses: It is not possible to prove a hypothesis correct but you should be able to prove it wrong. Falsifiability is a key trait of science. Cannot prove anomalous hypotheses. e.g. Jealous phenomena, Occam's razor principle (most simple)
- Lack of carefully controlled replicable research: many studies of anomalous phenomena are not controlled. If replica studies don't find evidence in favour it puts it in doubt.
- Lack of theory to explain effects: science aims to construct theories of why things happen. Many paranormal phenomena do not have theories to explain them.
- Burden of proof: supporters of psi phenomena require no proof and say it's up to sceptics to disprove it. Such disproof is difficult as any hypotheses are often unfalsifiable.
- Lack of ability to change: in science explanations are adapted after hypothesis testing. Psi phenomena have been explained in the same way for centuries despite a lack of evidence.
- Paranormal psychology is not the only example of pseudoscience. The same accusations have been made of Freud's theories. The psychodynamic approach is unfalsifiable as if you find men with suppressed homosexual tendencies then it supports it but if you don't it's because they're suppressed.
- Status of Science: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) - the largest general scientific society in the world - allowed The Parapsychology Association to become an affiliated member in 1969.
- Reasons to be concerned about parapsychology:
- Some people make a lot of money out of it
- Society should be encouraged to search for evidence not just follow blind superstition
- BUT research may lead to valuable discoveries. For example, acupuncture was once considered superstitious rubbish but is now a valuable method of pain relief - even offered on the NHS in some cases. So may become helpful
The Ganzfeld Technique
- A technique used to test for psychopathology.
- Sensory deprivation - Ping-Pong balls, red light, headphones playing white or pink noise
- Sender in a remote location tries to send stimulus whilst receiver describes their visual imagery
- After, the receiver judges which of 4 images was being transmitted (statistical probability 25% chance of getting it right)
- Milton and Wiseman (1999): meta-analysis of 30 ganzfeld studies in 7 labs. According to Hyman and Honorton's guidelines data consisted of 1198 individual trials. Ppts found not to score above chance expectation.
- Honorton (1978): 23 out of 42 experiments using this technique had scored significantly higher than chance.
- BUT Hyman (1985): estimation of replication rate only 30%. Noted several procedural flaws and probability errors.
- SO Honorton (1985) reanalysed his data but found continuing support for his claims.
- SO Hyman and Honorton got together and came up…