For want of proof, scientists debunk psychic ability

March 16th, 2012 - 4:20 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 16 (IANS) Some independent researchers have debunked psychic ability after being unable to find evidence supporting extra sensory perception.

Their report is a response to the 2011 study from social psychologist Daryl Bem, purporting the existence of precognition — an ability to perceive future events.

Chris French, Stuart Ritchie and Richard Wiseman from the Universities of London, Edinburgh and Hertfordshire, worked to replicate Bem’s final experiment, and found no evidence for precognition, the journal Public library of Science ONE reports.

Their report was rejected by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP), which originally published Bem’s findings along with his appeal to independent researchers to attempt replications, according to a Hertfordshire statement.

“Our submission was rejected without being sent for peer review on the basis that the journal has a policy of not publishing replications,” said French, a professor. “Our paper has opened up the debate on the proper place of replication in the scientific literature.”

In Bem’s experiment, after completing a memory test on a list of words, participants were then shown a random selection of half the words from the original list.

Results showed that participants were better at remembering the words they were about to be shown, indicating they had reached forward in time to ‘practice’ those words in the future.

Within parapsychology, there is a tendency to accept any positive replications but to dismiss failures to replicate if the procedures followed have not been exactly duplicated.

“We went to great pains to ensure we followed the same procedures as Bem,” said Stuart Ritchie. “Using Bem’s own computer programme and stats methods, we replicated his experiment three times, at each of our respective campuses, with the same number of participants as the original study.”

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