Monday, December 01, 2008

Neuropsychology of Paranormal Experiences and Beliefs

Here is a special online issue of the journal Cortex (Volume 44, Issue 10, Pages 1291-1396, November-December 2008), on the neuropsychology of paranormal experiences and beliefs.

The issue addresses the problem of why do apparently normal people, with normally functioning brains, persist in accepting paranormal (and thus, according to conventional neuroscience, delusional) beliefs.

I think this line of research is interesting in that it is useful to understand the origins of cognitive biases and mistakes of attribution, including the neuropsychology of such origins. But the mechanistic worldview of classical physics and the brain-as-computer metaphor assumed by many neuroscientists makes it too easy to dismiss the possibility that some of those beliefs are based on experiences which are not mistaken or delusional, but rather, quite real.

6 comments:

Enfant Terrible said...

Mr. Radin,

the article "Ganzfeld-induced hallucinatory experience, its phenomenology and cerebral electrophysiology" has many criticisms about ganzfeld. Could you comment it?

Best wishes.

David Bailey said...

One of the striking features of skeptical research, is how easily it could be criticised if it were subject to the scrutiny reserved for psi research!

For example, at least one piece of research depended in part on questionnaires. I know these are popular (and cheap), but I often wonder what they really tell about those who fill them in. Inevitably people will ask, "what is this question getting at?", "do I want to appear a nutter?", etc. etc.

Sandy said...

Early on in my various attempts to understand my own anomalous experiences, I looked to these types of studies to explain what was wrong with me. I really thought that my condition was pathological, the result of damage from an automobile accident that initiated a NDE. Funny thing is, all of the doctors and councilors I’ve gone to for help have been very reluctant to help me fix the problem. It seems as if my desire to be normal is the only thing they find questionable about me.

So why do doctors pathologize anomalous experiences in public forums, while telling patients in private that there is nothing wrong with such experiences? Is it because they can’t fix the problem, so why upset the patient with such information? Or is it simply a matter of scientific taboo?

Sandy said...

I saw this and had to smile. After coming across so many disheartening terms such as ‘mediumistic psychosis’, I have to say the concept of a “happy schizotype” is kind of refreshing.

Holt, N. J., Simmonds-Moore, C. A., & Moore, S. L. (2008). Benign schizotypy: Investigating differences between clusters of schizotype on paranormal belief, creativity, intelligence and mental health. The Parapsychological Association 51st Annual Convention, Proceedings of Presented Papers, August 13-17, 2008, Winchester, pp. 82-96.

http://publicparapsychology.blogspot.com/search/label/research%20summaries

gregory said...

who is more primitive than neuroscientists when it comes to understanding brain, mind, and awareness?

like kids jabbing sticks into a radio and then saying they think they know where the sound comes from ...

until "science" can begin to conceptualize that just maybe consciousness has subtler levels, they should be ignored regarding subtle experiences ...

and i recommend getting out of academia and the comfortable lifestyle it affords and go hang out with some yogis for a couple of years ... limiting concepts of mind to what english can label is just the first of many obstacles ... and learn some humility while you are there, please ...

crikey ...

enjoy, gregory lent

Dave Smith said...

"Here is a special online issue of the journal Cortex (Volume 44, Issue 10, Pages 1291-1396, November-December 2008), on the neuropsychology of paranormal experiences and beliefs."

It is perhaps no surprise that a whole issue of this journal was tailored to explanations of paranormal experiences in terms of neuropsychological abonrmalities and deficiences in information processing. One of the editors of the journal is Sergio Dela Salla who has recently given a talk entitled "Tall tales about the mind and brain". In this talk he ridicules those who believe in telepathy (Brian Josephson) and precognition (Minister for Science in the UK, Lord Drayson), calling such abilities 'mumbo jumbo'. If anyone is interested, the talk can be seen here:

http://www.ed.ac.uk/news/all-news/dalyell-prize

There is only a small segement where he ridicules the idea of telepathy and precognition but it is quite inappropriate behaviour considering that the lecture is all about science communication and no mention of any ESP experiments is given.