In this interview recorded at the National Science Foundation for the National Capital Area Skeptic’s presentation of the Philip J. Klass award to him, Ray Hyman explores the intersection of skepticism, magic, and psychology throughout the course of his life. He talks about his experiences with spiritualist church services, including “question and answer” services purporting to demonstrate communication with the dead. He talks about his role as a skeptic of parapsychology even as he was a critic of the skeptical community, arguing that much of the earlier research in parapsychology was of a higher quality than skeptics believed. He explains why he thinks parapsychology is boring.

He talks about his survey of the Ganzfeld Experiments of extra sensory perception, and the controversies that resulted. He explains why focusing on the flaws of parapsychology research is the wrong approach, because it shifts the burden of proof away from replicability. He responds to the camp in parapsychology that argues science should change its rules to make it easier to find evidence of psi. And he explains why he thinks skeptics are abnormal, or “mutants.”

Also, in this week’s installment of the Honest Liar, Jamy Ian Swiss remembers when he and Ray Hyman joined a channeler on the radio.

National Capital Area Skeptics:
http://www.ncas.org/2010/04/apr-24-ncas-philip-j-klass-award.html

Channeling:
http://www.skepdic.com/channeling.html

 

{ 0 comments }

[Originally posted on SWIFT, December 1, 2010]

In the current issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a respected publication of the American Psychological Association (APA), veteran psychologist and sometime psi researcher Daryl Bem has published an ambitious paper describing nine experiments which he claims demonstrate precognition, the ability to know the future – or perhaps, a phenomenon in which the future somehow appears to affect the present.

The paper has received a fair amount of attention in the short time since it has become public knowledge, and there is no shortage of discussion around the blogosphere and among other interested outlets, from Psychology Today to Wired magazine. Not the least of reasons why the paper is garnering such attention – the potential for shattering contemporary scientific knowledge notwithstanding – is the simple fact that a prestigious journal is publishing a paper about parapsychology at all, much less one in support of paranormal claims. Parapsychology hasn’t been in the news in any serious manner in quite a while – that is to say, outside of television screens and pop culture scenes, which both fuel and feed a gluttonous appetite for such fare, from dime-a-dozen talk-to-the-dead mediums to programs exploiting children by supposedly exploring their psychic abilities. (See: “Psychic Kids” on A&E for the most recent evidence that just when things seem to hit their lowest on the offensive and manipulative trash scale, someone finds a denominator a giant leap straight downward.)

[Read the full article … ]

{ 0 comments }

Believing in Santa

November 28, 2010

[Originally posted on SWIFT, November 24, 2010] At Dragon*Con earlier this year, I took part in the “Raising Skeptical Geeks” panel, moderated by Desiree Schell (of the “Skeptically Speaking” podcast), and joined by Adam Savage, Laura Phillips, LaVerne Angela Knight-West, Daniel Loxton, and Barbara Drescher. [You can find the complete audio of the panel discussion […]

Read the full article →

Eastwood’s “Hereafter” Offers More Questions Than Answers

November 16, 2010

[Originally posted on SWIFT, November 16, 2010] Whatever gets you through your life ,’salright, ‘salright. Do it wrong or do it right, ‘salright, ‘salright Don’t need a watch to waste your time, oh no, oh no. — John Lennon In “Hereafter,” Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial outing, three characters explore the impact of death — or […]

Read the full article →

Happy Hallowe’en, Harry

November 16, 2010

I have long been associated in various capacities with the  James Randi Educational Foundation [randi.org], where I currently serve as Chairman of the Advisory Committee to the President, D.J. Grothe. I’ve now begun blogging for SWIFT, the foundation’s blog site, and my first entry was about Harry Houdini, in honor of Hallowe’en, which is also […]

Read the full article →

The Honest Liar, Episode #12

May 21, 2010

This week’s For Good Reason features an interview with my friend Paul Provenza, the celebrated comic and critic, who talks about his new book, Satiristas, a collection of interviews with leading contemporary comics, and which focuses on rationalist issues through the lens of transgressive and subversive comedy.. In this wide-ranging interview, Paul discusses the motivation […]

Read the full article →

In Defense of Baseball: Adam Gopnik Replies

May 11, 2010

As a book critic, I make it a policy never to reply publicly to letters or comments about my columns and essays. As it turns out, my friend and colleague Adam Gopnik has always held strictly to the same rule. Now, however, because, he says, “baseball is different,” Adam has kindly elected to continue our […]

Read the full article →

The Honest Liar, Episode #11

May 7, 2010

Deirdre Barrett talks about supernormal stimuli, which are exaggerated versions of natural stimuli to which there are existing instinctual responses. She discusses how our evolved instincts are overwhelmed by technological advances and other facets of modern society. She explores how pornography, unhealthy diets, and even the quest for nuclear energy as opposed to wind or […]

Read the full article →

The Honest Liar, Episode #10

May 7, 2010

Vic Stenger talks about the limits of science, and whether scientists should be critical of religion and the paranormal, or if such sorts of claims are out of the bounds of science, and therefore beyond criticism. He discusses the academic and spiritual career of Fritjof Capra, and his book The Tao of Physics and how […]

Read the full article →

In Defense of Baseball

May 5, 2010

Recently, New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik posted on the magazine’s sports blog a Dear John letter to baseball, entitled “Why Baseball?”  Here is my (admittedly lengthy) reply … _________________________________________________________________ It’s true, so let’s admit it: It’s easy to fall away from baseball. It doesn’t really matter if the game is 2-1/2 or 3 or 3-1/2 […]

Read the full article →