Saturday, October 22, 2011   2:41 PM

"Why Are (Some) Scientists so Opposed to Parapsychology?"

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University

Discussing the negative views of parapsychology expressed by some scientists Dr. Mark Leary, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Director of the Social Psychology Program at Duke University, has stated that "when it comes to parapsychology, many scientists are not skeptics but rather dogmatic . . ." (Why Are (Some) Scientists so Opposed to Parapsychology?Explore, 2011, 7, 275-277).

Leary discusses arguments such as the ideas that parapsychology is a pseudoscience, does not meet standards of scientific rigor, cannot explain its findings, and is related to occult beliefs. He also states: "The fact that many attacks on parapsychology are highly dogmatic and emotional and couched in ridicule and intimidation rather than scientific argument suggests that parapsychology threatens something quite important to these critics. That something may be their grasp of reality."

The article ends with the following comments:

"I can readily identify with the intellectual difficulty of accepting most of parapsychology’s claims. I have a tremendous amount of trouble understanding how any of it can be true. Yet I also see the results of
decades of well-designed research suggesting that psi might in fact occur and, from a scientific perspective, I don’t have the luxury of simply ignoring research findings that make me uncomfortable, and I
don’t think I would be justified in condemning researchers who study such things . . . .  I find it harder to understand why anyone would suggest that such research should not be conducted or that researchers in the field are misguided or irrational. Even people who do not believe in psychic phenomena should want
additional research to provide an answer once and for all. The questions are so interesting and potentially important that we really should know the answers, however they may fall."

 

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