back to article Princeton ESP lab shuttered in bad week for irrationality

The news that the lab investigating parapsychological phenomena around extra-sensory perception has closed makes for a bad week for pseudoscience. The Engineering Anomalies Research laboratory operated on the fringes of Princeton University for almost 30 years. It was set up by the Ivy League school's former dean of applied …

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Skeptics fail to learn the lessons of history

Having visited James Randi's site, and frequented a number of skeptics' forums, it seems to me that these people suffer from the same delusion that have dogged researchers since the time of ancient Greece: the idea that "learned men" know pretty much all there is to know about how the Universe works. The skeptics are very quick to dismiss any alternative worldview that doesn't fit in with their own materialistic perceptions. In their own way, this makes them as bigoted as any religionist; an atheist who claims "There is NO god" is actually making as positive a statement about god's existence as any religionist. The only accurate answer we can give to that question is "I don't know".

What riles me most about the skeptics' attitude is that they don't even want to allow research into the mere possibility of psychic phenomena. Granted, there are a lot of charlatans and shysters out there, but to simply deny even the possibility that psychic phenomena exist flies in the face of the most fundamental principles of science. Even if a lab has not yet turned up any empirical evidence of psychic phenomena, that doesn't mean that such phenomena don't or can't exist.

These are the same people who are willing to spend millions of dollars in the search for so-called "dark matter", which they can't prove exists and for which the only evidence is a half-baked theory concerning vorticity in spiral galaxies. Yet they instantly ridicule any efforts to investigate potential powers of the human mind. For this reason, I prefer agnosticism, and could no more become a "skeptic" than I could become a Christian or a Muslim.

All I can say to the skeptics is: "You don't have enough information about the Universe to make that judgement."

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I think you have a bit of a misconception (or two) there.

'...the idea that "learned men" know pretty much all there is to know about how the Universe works.'

The foundation of science lies on the knowledge that we know what we don't know and question and explore that. If learned (and otherwise) people never strove to understand the scientific explanation of seemingly supernatural phenomena, we would never make any progress at all.

Where believers tend to throw their hands up and say that the explanation must lie with some magic or ghost or ESP, non-believers actively want to understand the process that produces those results in the first place.

'What riles me most about the skeptics' attitude is that they don't even want to allow research into the mere possibility of psychic phenomena.'

Did you follow the link to Randi's million dollar challenge that explicitly says that JREF wants to explore the possibilities of physic phenomena in a scientific manner?

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Um...

Right, so if this group took a "strictly scientific" approach, failed to find evidence for ESP, why were they ridiculed by others at Princeton and James Randi?

Is it really that bad merely to look...?

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