Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Popular science media and ESP

The popular science media often gets things wrong about psi research. But today I saw a news post that establishes a new threshold for journalistic nonsense.

In its "Weird" news section, National Geographics' website carried an article entitled "ESP Is Put to the Test—Can You Foretell the Results? It's just hokum, say researchers, who offer a new experiment as proof."

The news post goes on to report that a study published January 13 in PLOS ONE, an online peer-reviewed journal, provides this proof in an experiment described as:"Can people use ESP to figure out what's on the face of a card?"


In fact the paper doesn't mention ESP, the reported study wasn't a test of ESP, and the references in the article don't cite any articles that are even tangentially relevant to ESP. It had nothing whatsoever to do with ESP.

So what was the source of this silly mistake, blaring proof of ESP as "hokum"? 

The majority of science news appearing on blogs today, even on presumably well-regarded sites like National Geographic, is just copy and pasted from other blogs. When one of the blogs gets the story wrong, but the topic seems suitably spicy for a "weird column," a writer who is under pressure to provide daily blog content assumes that the content of the copied blog is correct, embellishes it a bit to avoid plagiarism filters, and submits it to an editor who doesn't have the time or interest to check the facts. 

This practice quickly perpetuates nonsense, the nonsense morphs into a widely cited source, and that soon becomes gospel on Wikipedia.  Wow.

Update thanks to Nancy Zingrone: A further demonstration of how nonsense feeds on itself to become breathtakingly stupid: see Discovery News

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Call for an open, informed study of all aspects of consciousness

This opinion article, in a mainstream journal, is signed by academics hailing from Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Duke, Cornell, University of California, University of Washington, University of Colorado, Rice University, Penn State College of Medicine, University of San Francisco, University of Sao Paulo, Universit√† di Padova, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, University of Adelaide, University of Lisbon, University of Munich, Granada University, University of London, Edinburgh University, University of Tolouse, Lund University, etc..

" ... we would like to stress the following:

1) Research on parapsychological phenomena (psi) is being carried out in various accredited universities and research centers throughout the world by academics in different disciplines trained in the scientific method (e.g., circa 80 Ph.D.s have been awarded in psi-related topics in the UK in recent years). This research has continued for over a century despite the taboo against investigating the topic, almost complete lack of funding, and professional and personal attacks. The Parapsychological Association has been an affiliate of the AAAS since 1969, and more than 20 Nobel prizewinners and many other eminent scientists have supported the study of psi or even conducted research themselves..."

See the full post here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chinese translation of The Conscious Universe

My book The Conscious Universe was just published in Chinese. 

With this latest publication The Conscious UniverseEntangled Minds and Supernormal have collectively been translated into Chinese, French, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Turkish and Arabic, with (I've heard) German, Finnish, Czech, Greek, and Bulgarian possibly in the works