ESP; survey says we believe in it!

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Coming across this link to an article and comments regarding the findings of ESP, and more specifically the teachings of ESP, my mind jumped back to a spot in our textbook regarding the thoughts centered around ESP. Our textbook shows scholarly information regarding ESP, does this article contradict it or simply state that the information is a waste of space? The article as well as the books state, ESP is an extraordinary claim and there is still yet to be extraordinary evidence to prove the theory. So do we have enough information to allow us to believe? According to surveys from Haraldsson and Houtkooper in 1991 and Greely in 1987, American adults seem to have some belief. These findings of the belief of ESP, as brought up in one of the comments on the article, may be due to pop culture through the media. Films, books, and stories are filled with super-natural findings. dcr0153l.jpgHas this had a major impact on the belief of the unknown? If we do believe the teachings are relevant that may lead us down a different path, but ESP being featured in our book is not there to let us know the truth behind it but further more the reasoning of the crazy phenomenons people seem to have. Illusory correlation, recalling striking evidence as coincidences and ignore the other events that may harm this thought, may be an explanation to this extraordinary claim of being able to "predict" the future. Is this an intensive enough explanation? Have you ever had ESP feelings whether they be through a dream or a feeling of an event that occurred? And back to the article, does this topic have the solid evidence to be printed in scholarly text books and given to students as useful information? Those may be questions for us to answer ourselves depending on the extent in which we believe in ESP.


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Great post! I personally have a small belief in ESP, but it's definitely not something supported by science. If anything it's a field that isn't supported by science. I will admit there have been times that I have found myself amazed by the works of ESP that seem out of this world, but for it to be published in a science journal is a little far fetched. As one of the principles of scientific thinking states extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Since ESP is a pretty amazing skill to have, there has to be solid evidence to support the claim before there is a publication of any work on the subject.

"Socrates explains that the human soul is immortal and has been born many times. The soul has seen everything that there is to be seen and there is nothing that it has not learned. Therefore, it is not absurd to believe that it's possible for the soul to recollect things that it already knows from past existences." (On Plato's Theory of Recollection, Daniel C. Bastos)
This portion of the article really makes me wonder if Socrates would have believed in ESP... and perhaps he would say that ESP isn't really a prediction, but in fact, something we have already lived through. I'd be interested in hearing your personal thoughts.

ESP is a mysterious awareness of the world, I would like share some personal opinions about ESP. As we know, one of ESP is feelings of mind's---telepathy, but I don't think it is a complete guess of people's mind. I believe people have some natural gift of feeling people's emotions and some facial expressions. Such a natural ability make people could subconsciously know people's mind. LIE TO ME is a popular TV show, and facial expressions have scientific explanations.

It's not all that surprising to me that many Americans believe in ESP. Regardless of the evidence, I think for many people it's kind of comforting and/or fun to believe in supernatural stuff, so it'll probably always be around.

I think this is partly because it's easy to find 'evidence' for things like ESP in our lives. Just the other day, for example, I was thinking of a friend and saw her walking down the street five minutes later. As weird as it felt at the time, weird things are statistically bound to happen sometimes, which I think people can forget.

About the article, I think the ESP studies discussed should be replicated and perhaps done in a few different ways before an academic journal publishes the results. Extraordinary claims really should be met by extraordinary evidence, and Dr. Bern's studies alone aren't enough. He assumes a lot in his conclusions, too, which isn't a good sign.

The article you reference Bailey was written by a very well respected psychologist named Darryl Bem and it was a HUGE deal when it came out. We spent several meetings when I was still in grad school discussing the paper and its merits. Most of us questioned whether it should have appeared at all in Social Psychology's most prominent journal.

The problem was that although he presented several studies that confirmed some type of ability to sense future outcomes before they happened, the evidence was quite weak and barely above the level of significance.

This is usually good enough for most experimental findings that are grounded in solid theoretical and empirical research, but as you stated, and is an important principal of scientific thinking, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

To date no other researchers have published replications of his findings. this is an important next step if we are to believe that ESP is a real phenomenon. Next, we would need some sense of a clear mechanism that produces such information or knowledge. Just as we have a clear understanding of the way the eyes and ears work at a biological level, we would need to understand ESP at some kind of neurological level as well.

This kind of hard evidence is really what is lacking. I think you are right in saying that the belief most people have about ESP, and many other mysterious phenomenon like extraterrestrial invaders, conspiracy plots about 9/11 etc. is do to well known cognitive biases such as the illusory correlation effect and confirmation bias.

We will be discussing these and others in the chapter on Cognition soon.

I agree with Soda M, how some people have a natural gift for feeling people's emotions and reading facial expressions, which is not ESP. Supernatural stuff is fun, my friends and I love to scare ourselves by going to "haunted" places. Ironically, I'm usually the one to get the most scared even though I am the only who who claims no belief in the supernatural. It seems like for this study to be valid they need to replicate their findings and come up with more extraordinary evidence for their claims.

ESP is a really cool thing. Personally, I know it's not really supported, I enjoy the fact of ESP. I think there are some real ESP phenomenon and some that are fake. This may have come from just social experiences and TV shows like ghost hunters. Some people have better ways at telling what is going on I think and just have that "gut" feeling. I don't think the article has enough proof in it. It is not: valid, does not rule out rival hypothesis and the claims are too extraordinary.

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This page contains a single entry by strom393 published on February 14, 2012 12:16 AM.

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