Skeptics & Debunkers

C. P. Snow

The Two Cultures

Science Wars

Sociology of Scientific Knowledge


2/15 3/15 4/15 5/15 6/15 7/15 8/15 9/15 10/15 11/15 12/15 13/15 14/15 15/15 

Charles Fort

The Book of the Damned



2/12 3/12 4/12 5/12 6/12 7/12 8/12 9/12 10/12 11/12 12/12

Jacques Vallée


2/4 3/4 4/4

Robert Anton Wilson

The New Inquisition


Rupert Sheldrake

Richard Dawkins comes to call

He dismissed all research on the subject out of hand. […] “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

“This depends on what you regard as extraordinary”, I replied. “Most people say they have experienced telepathy, especially in connection with telephone calls. In that sense, telepathy is ordinary. The claim that most people are deluded about their own experience is extraordinary. Where is the extraordinary evidence for that?”

He produced no evidence at all, apart from generic arguments about the fallibility of human judgment. He assumed that people want to believe in “the paranormal” because of wishful thinking.

We then agreed that controlled experiments were necessary. I said that this was why I had actually been doing such experiments, including tests to find out if people really could tell who was calling them on the telephone when the caller was selected at random. The results were far above the chance level.

The previous week I had sent Richard copies of some of my papers, published in peer-reviewed journals, so that he could look at the data.

Richard seemed uneasy and said, “I’m don’t want to discuss evidence”. “Why not?” I asked. “There isn’t time. It’s too complicated. And that’s not what this programme is about.” The camera stopped.

George P. Hansen

Magicians Who Endorsed Psychic Phenomena

CSICOP and the Skeptics: An Overview

CSICOP to CSI: the Stigma of the Paranormal

Has CSICOP Lost the Thirty Years’ War?
Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4, Pt. 5, Pt. 6

Marcello Truzzi

Skeptics

Pseudoskepticism

Pyrrhonism

SCEPCOP

Closeminded Science

Scientism

Parapsychology, Anomalies, Science, Skepticism, and CSICOP

Parapsychology, [Marcello] Truzzi contends as a sociologist, is more tough-minded than many other academic fields, yet paradoxically, it remains a fringe subject.  “Parapsychologists really want to play the game by the proper statistical rules,” he expounds. “They’re very staid. They thought they could convince these sceptics but the sceptics keep raising the goalposts. It’s ironic, because real psychic researchers are very committed to doing real science, more than a lot of people in science are. Yet they get rejected, while we can be slipshod in psychology and sociology and economics and get away with it. We’re not painted as the witchdoctors, but they are.”  Jonathon Margolis in Uri Geller: Magician or Mystic?
 
“. . . members of the scientific community often judge the parapsychological claims without firsthand knowledge of the experimental evidence. Very few of the scientific critics have examined even one of the many experimental reports on psychic phenomena. Even fewer, if any, have examined the bulk of the parapsychological literature…. Consequently, parapsychologists have justification for their complaint that the scientific community is dismissing their claims without a fair hearing. . . .” Ray Hyman

 “I call them scoffers, not skeptics,” says Marcello Truzzi, director of the Center of Scientific Anomalies Research at Eastern Michigan University.

Truzzi, who studies what he calls protoscience, was a founding member of the world’s oldest and most respected skeptic society, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). But Truzzi says he withdrew after growing disillusioned with the group’s research methods.

“They tend to block honest inquiry, in my opinion,” he asserts. “Most of them are not agnostic toward claims of the paranormal; they are out to knock them.”

Truzzi says that some of the CSICOP researchers set the bar of proof outrageously high when it comes to the study of the paranormal. “When an experiment of the paranormal meets their requirements, then they move the goal posts,” he says. “Then, if the experiment is reputable, they say it’s a mere anomaly.”  Tanya Barrientos in  The Paranormal? Pshaw!

“The most ardent skeptics enjoy their skepticism as long as it does not encroach upon their most cherished beliefs. Then incredulity flies out the window. . . . It is easy, even fun to challenge others’ beliefs, when we are smug in our certainty about our own. But when ours are challenged, it takes great patience and ego strength to listen with an unjaundiced ear.” Michael Shermer in A Skeptical Manifesto
 
“. . . the same scientific mind-set that thrives on high precision and critical thinking is also extremely adept at forming clever rationalizations that get in the way of progress. In extreme cases, these rationalizations have prevented psi research from taking place at all. Ironically, the very same skeptics who have attempted to block psi research through the use of rhetoric and ridicule have also been responsible for perpetuating the many popular myths associated with psychic phenomena. If serious scientists are prevented from investigating claims of psi out of fear for their reputations, then who is left to conduct these investigations? Extreme skeptics? No, because the fact is that most extremists do not conduct research, they specialize in criticism. Extreme believers? No, because they are usually not interested in conducting rigorous scientific studies. Dean Radin in The Conscious Universe, p. 206-207
 
“There are three broad approaches to anomaly studies. . . . The second common approach is what critics usually call the debunkers’ approach. This is the main attitude of the orthodox scientific community towards anomaly claims. It is characterized by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). “Whatever is claimed is nothing but … something else.” Seemingly anomalous phenomena are denied first and sometimes investigated only second. Like the Fortean the debunker is not concerned with the full explanation. Whereas the Fortean types don’t want explanations, the debunkers don’t need them as they believe they have already them.”  Marcello Truzzi in Reflections on the Reception of Unconventional Claims in Science
“Despite years of attempts to study paranormal phenomena, there’s been a scientific iron curtain raised against serious research on these experiences.” Andrew Greeley in The “Impossible”:  It’s Happening
 
“In 1819, Ernst Chladni reflected back on his struggles for the recognition of meteorites. While the Enlightenment, the 18th century intellectual movement that examined accepted doctrines of the time, had brought certain benefits, he felt it also brought with it certain intellectual problems. Now scientists ‘thought it necessary to throw away or reject as error anything that did not conform to a self-constructed model.’ The very success of scientific experiment and theory had led to a misplaced confidence that what was real was already within the circle of science. What was outside, therefore, what did not conform to scientists’ theories, could be dismissed by invoking scientific authority and by ignoring or ridiculing observations not supported by it.”  Ron Westrum in The Blind Eye of Science
 
“New data and discordant, anomalous, or bizarre experiences or facts can destroy the best explanations. Thus we cannot say with absolute confidence that the data and theories of parapsychology must be false because they contradict the existing body of physical [scientific] theory.” Paul Kurtz in The Transcendental Temptation

Some Thoughts on Parapsychology

Some Thoughts on Parapsychology

Posted on Jul 30th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
This is a response to Julian in his blog The Transformative Power of Development: A Three-Part Distinction.

if the ganzfield experiment is the leading edge we are still very far from any kind of satisfying evidence for psi, right?

As I see it, parapsychology research in general brings up more questions than answers.  Still, the questions it brings up are quite intriguing.  I must admit that I don’t feel confident in my understanding of any of this.  I’ve never been involved in any kind of scientific research, I’ve never studied scientific methodology, and I’m entirely clueless about statistical analysis.  Basically, I really don’t know what to make of much of it, but I am curious. 

I’m sure that much of the criticisms are valid, but I appreciate the context that Hansen provides in his book.  Hansen thinks that the paranormal by its very nature can’t be scientifically proven and will always be marginal, and he is critical of scientists such as Dean Radin.  He isn’t saying that research can’t or shouldn’t be done, but rather it will never be accepted by mainstream sceintists.  The budget for paranormal research and the numbers of profesionals involved is miniscule, and its amazing that any research at all is done.  Paranormal research could only make any headway (whether in proving or disproving) if it actually had some funding which Hansen says will never happen. 

So, Hansen’s criticism simultaneously points out the limits of the paranormal and the limits of mainstream science.  To answer your question, yes, the limited evidence of paranormal research is disatsfying.  But the limits of science in general are disatisfying to someone who wishes to find conclusive meaning about life.

There are reasons why paranormal research is still important.  Relative to other scientific fields, very little research has been done on the paranormal, and very little of it done on a largescale.  So, its not fair to judge a field that is still in its infancy.  Even though there isn’t any scientific consensus about the paranormal, much has been learned from the research.  Parapsychology reearchers have refined their methodologies over time.  Its hard to control for something which has many unknown factors.  They have to be more careful about their controls (partly because of potential deceipt and self-deception) than is necessary for most scientists.  So, the refinements of methodology are helpful for all researchers in all fields.  There is a history of inadequate methodology in parapsychology research, but to its credit these inadequacies are continuously being resolved.  Its a slow process, though, since there is very little funding or institutionalized support.  In some ways, research has shown more about what the paranormal isn’t than what it is.

One of the subjects I find the most interesting (in Hansen’s book) is the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK).  Scientists in this field study other scientists.  Two interesting aspects are the problems with the replication of scientific experiments and experimenter effect (the corollary to the placebo effect which complicates the situation further).  The research into the experimenter effect was pioneered by Rosenthal (who so happened to have some interest in parapsychology) who demonstrated that the bias of a researcher alters the results.  He also studied teachers and how their expectations influence the success or failure of students.  Interestingly, he also helped to develop the use of meta-analysis… maybe because of the problems he discovered with individual experiments.  Experimenter effect can be controlled by double-blinds, and yet according to this paper double-blinds aren’t as commonly used as one would hope.  Parapsychologists take double-blinds more seriously because of the increased complexity of experimenter effects.  The problem with studying the paranormal is that it by definition challenges the very basis of the scientific paradigm, and that is why Hansen is so pessimistic about the future of parapsychology research.

 BTW Hansen is especially critical of skpetics especially on the debunking end of the scale.  In his book, he focuses on the enmeshed relationship between parapsychologists and skeptics, and brings up some important insights.  His analysis of Martin Gardner is very detailed.  At his site he has several online articles about skeptics:  

CSICOP and the Skeptics: An Overview
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 86, No. 1, January 1992, pp. 19-63.


The Elusive Agenda: Dissuading as Debunking in Ray Hyman’s The Elusive Quarry
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 85, No. 2, April 1991, pp. 193-203.


Review of Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction by Charles M. Wynn and Arthur W. Wiggins
. Journal of Parapsychology, Vol. 66, No. 3, September 2002, Pp. 321-324.


Review of The Encyclopedia of the Paranomal edited by Gordon Stein.
  Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 90, Nos. 3-4,  July-October, 2000,  pp. 181-189.
In case you’re interested, here is Hansen’s Website, and some Book Reviews: here, here, here (starting on p. 60), and here.

now even if we do decide to go along with the possibility that as radin says ” people sometimes get small amounts of specific information from a distance without the use of the ordinary senses. Psi effects do occur in the ganzfeld” – then the question becomes what do we think that means?

Good question.  The meaning is where the rubber hits the road for us simply trying to make sense of it all.  Whether its true or not, why should we care?  And if true, what is its practical value?  I don’t know what sense we can make of it.  The possibility of it being true brings doubt to our normal sense of reality and the standard procedures of science.  It very well might mean an entire paradigm shift within our society.  But what do we think it means?  I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me I think it means the world is a strange place.  🙂

what do you think this “evidence” would mean viz the above blogpost were it verifiable beyond doubt?    

Basically, I don’t think that most of what you said is directly related to whether or not the paranormal exists, but you seem to think its directly related.  Even if the evidence was irrefutable, it wouldn’t change the basic facts of growth and development, suffering and death.  Also, there is no reason to assume that parnormal research would support idealistic metaphysics. 

Its true that the paranormal can be interpreted in terms of the pre-rational, but it also can be interpreted in terms of the trans-ratioal.  The trans-rational isn’t a clear category.  In some ways, its beyond both rationality and pre-rationality.  Its beyond in terms of development, but its also beyond in that it can temporarily suspend these previous modes.  Yet, in other ways, it might be thought of as that which bridges the gap between the pre-rational and the rational as it transcends and includes both.  However we look at it, I think it brings to question some fundamental divisions that rationality helped to create… such as internal and external.  These divisions are still real to some degree, but the trans-rational complexifies the relationship between them.

I’m still figuring out how this all fits together.  Hansen doesn’t speak about integral theory, and integral theory doesn’t speak much about parapsychology research.  I’m trying to connect ideas here, but I don’t know how successful my attempt is.  I genuinely have no clear conclusions at this point.  I’m hoping that further discussion of enactivism will help me to integrate my thoughts.

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Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 2 hours later

Nicole said

you make some really excellent points…

roaming around on the net I found this priceless Q and A: http://www.iprfinc.com/

Question of the Month

Q:    I’ve heard of “wormholes” and interdimensional portals in cemeteries that spirits can travel through to get from one cemetery to another. Is this true?

A:        Unfortunately, there is no true way as of yet to scientifically prove or disprove this theory. Theoretically folding time and space is possible, which is the subject we are up against here. It does seem plausible, but highly unlikely, however. The reason that I say that it is highly unlikely is because certain scientists have stated that there are infinite numbers of dimensions. If interdimensional travel were to take place, a certain segment of these dimensions that would connect one place to the other would have to be under ideal conditions to be able to fall into a synchronistic rhythm for any length of time. Theoretically, if this event were to actually happen, even if the dimensions were only one degree “in phase” (synchronized) with each of the others, it would make a minute allowance for particulate electromagnetic matter, such as ghosts, to move through the “gate.” This, coupled with the thought that a ghost maintains their persona, memories, etc. would then almost completely rule out the thought of interdimensional travel by a ghost. I say this because if a ghost is indeed a person – minus their physically manifested body – then they would have to have understood and performed interdimensional travel while they were alive in order for them to have the ability to do so after they have died. 

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 9 hours later

Marmalade said

Nicole, let us not share that with Julian.  He’d really go bonkers over ghosts travelling through wormholes.  😉

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 13 hours later

Nicole said

You won’t be surprised to know I had Julian in mind posting that! 🙂

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

about 18 hours later

1Vector3 said

This is a no-no, but I have some comments/opinions/viewpoints before completing my reading of the entire blog – and I did not read Julian’s blog, either….. Will remedy these boooo-booooos as soooooon as I can.

My usual disclaimer: The sentences below are not presented as truth or facts, just my best opinions at this time. I seek not to correct or to disagree, but to stimulate clarity and discussion.

The scientific method itself deals with certain ontological objects (Beings, existents) in a certain reality. Paranormal stuff is from a different reality. Like Flatlander [remember the old metaphor of 2-d Beings/world] science can never “prove” the existence of a third dimension, it’s just an epistemologically nonesensical endeavor, when seen from that metaphor.

Not only is the reality different, but the epistemology is different. (Newtonian) science requires a certain subject-object relationship, and that relationship is not the one operating in paranormal phenomena. Thus, no possibility of meaningful interface, let alone “proof.”

[ I ignore here the complexity that the paranormal level of consciousness or epistemological functioning can include the normal in itself, but not vice-versa. ]

What the research CAN do is pile up enough anomalies (as per Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and BTW I regard no one as educated if they have not read it) that mainstream science can no longer sweep these anomalies under the rug, and must acknowledge its own limits of explanation (actually, of scope of application.)

I forget what Ken Wilber says about this matter, but I think he disagrees with me, but not for any reasons you might guess. Somewhere in Integral Spirituality where he talks about the “Two-Truths Doctrine” and rejects it but I can’t recall why.

Also another point, mainstream science itself, the kind of research you refer to, is still Newtonian in paradigm. Now, how scientific is THAT? A bit behind the times, I would say. Thus, not at all the most comprehensively up-to-date scientific paradigm for assessing anything, especially the paranormal.

As I understand it, when viewed from the quantum-physical paradigm, the paranormal is simply normal, expressions of what is normal on the quantum level, which itself causes enough anomalies on the macro level that it eventually had to be dealt with and accepted.

In No Boundary Ken Wilber does a totally fabulous job of summarizing the implications of quantum physics, including its relationship to and implications for ordinary science, and repeating all that here would take up too much space, but it’s on pages 35-41 of the paperback. The book itself is a paradigm shifter I recommend to anyone who wants to expand their awareness. It’s not even woo-woo, it’s just common sense !!!

I am not qualified to judge, but I have heard that many if not most of the purported “New Age” reports of the implications of quantum physics for our daily lives, for our ordinary thinking, range from inferior to inaccurate, but KW’s report of the implications seems less sloppy, and less axe-to-grind, to my uneducated mind.

OK, thank you for indulging me, and I will go read up. I like being on Notifications of your blogs, oh magnificent orange-and-white Cat-Being from Another Dimension. You are definitely PARA (beyond) normal !!!! LOL !!!!

Blessings, OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

Hey OM,

Sorry I didn’t respond right away.  I’ve been busy trying to respond to lots of discussions on Gaia.

Don’t worry about having not read the blog entirely.  Your comments fit in just fine.

Guess what?  I’ve never read Kuhn.  Ha!  🙂  I’m uneducated.  Yay! 

I like the idea of piling up the anomalies.  That is my basic viewpoint.  Parapsychology hasn’t “proven” anything, but it has provided some anomalies.  Eventually, if enough anomalies pile up, it will create a critical mass forcing a paradigm shift.  As I see it, parapsychology research is still in its infancy despite it being more than a century old.

About the Newtonian paradigm of mainstream science, I think that is very true.  The Newtonian paradigm has practical usefulness for research in most fields.  Since there isn’t much connection between most fields and post-Newtonian paradigms, my guess is that most research scientists don’t consider theoretical complexities of quantum physics.  Even paranormal research have mostly ignored theoretical issues and I doubt that many paranormal researchers are educated in quantum physics.  All of science has a whole lot of catching up to do.

I suspect that if convincing evidence of the paranormal is ever found, it will probably be in the field of physics.  Basically, mainstream scientists will only be convinced by evidence by mainstream science, and yet parapsychology isn’t considered mainstream and so its evidence isn’t acceptable.

I was thinking about Dawkins telling Radin that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.  Radin pointed out that it depends on what one considers extraordinary, but there is a further problem with Dawkin’s statement.  Parapsychology gets very little funding and so is unable to do the largescale research that is necessary to produce “extraordinary” evidence, but its mainstream scientists such as Dawkins who argue that parapsychology doesn’t deserve funding because it doesn’t produce “extraordinary” evidence.  So, Dawkins’ statement is disingenuous because he really doesn’t want parapsychology to produce extraordinary evidence. 

It reminds me of CSICOP, the skeptical organization by various mainstream scientists (incuding Dawkins).  The problem with CSICOP is that it isn’t headed by scientists and the scientists who support it have no professional experience with parapsychology research.  CSICOP has no peer-reviewed journal and doesn’t support research even in disproving the paranormal.  Hansen says that CSICOP did do some research early on, but it ended up proving what they were trying to disprove and so they never did research again.  Worse still, they use their influence (via mainstream scientists) to keep parapsychologists from getting funding.

I am curious about the possible connection between parapsychology and quantum physics.  Lynne McTaggart speaks about the connection in her books, but as she isn’t a scientist I don’t know how biased her presentation might be. 

I’ve heard that there is nothing paranormal because its a false label.  If the paranormal exists, then its normal.  I agree with that as far as that goes… I really don’t care what one calls it.  Anyways, normality is kind of a relative concept.  I’m sure quantum physics seemed a bit paranormal to Newtonian scientists.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

LOL! It’s all so terribly funny isn’t it?

your point about quantum physics is very important. i too think the key will be there, so when everyone else has “caught up” we will see a lot more…

New Age: Part 5

New Age: Part 5

Posted on Jul 26th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade

I’m reading a very interesting book right now: The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen.  Its not directly about the New Age, but covers similar territory and mentions the New Age in a couple of places.  The author explains the socio-cultural dynamics of the paranormal within non-mainstream groups, scientific research, debunker organizations, and our society in general.  He uses concepts such as communitas, liminal, anti-structure, reflexivity, and totemism.  Here are some quotes that are relevant:
 
p. 171
In our culture, psychic phenomena are hospitably received in Spiritualism, the New Age movement, and modern-day witchcraft.  The three movements share common elements, and in a variety of fashions, they are at odds with the establishment.  None of them have institutionalized in the manner of government, industry, academe, or mainline religion.  few of the groups within these movements have buildings or permanent paid staffs, and if they do manage to instituiionalize, it is usually only briefly.  None of the movements acknowledge any central authority; control is local.  The movements are marginal and anti-structural in many ways, but it is within them that one can find discussion of, training in, and use of psychic abilities.
 
p. 174
Marilyn Ferguson, one of the most articulate persons expressing the ideas of the New Age, noted that there is no central authority defining the movement.  In her book The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980), she emphasized its informal, fluid networks, decentralization of power, and lack of structured hierarchies.  New Age concerns typically include feminism, the environment, and alternative healing, and women play major roles.  In addition, it is open to astrology and other forms of divination.  All of this is a bit subersive to the establishment.  Overall, its properties define it as anti-structural.
 
pp. 176-177
All three of these movements have loose boundaries.  It is often difficult to tell if someone is part of them or not.  Many who attend Spiritualist services are also members of established religions; New Age followers are drawn from all faiths.  Witchcraft and neo-pagan groups are perhaps more distinct, but ambiguity reigns there as well with vast differences among them.  Within covens, beliefs and rituals can change with the whim of the high priestess or priest.  There is no higher ecclesiastical authority or common text that solidifies dogma or mandates what, how, or when rituals must be performed.
 
These three movements have striking similarities.  In all alltered (i.e., estructured) states of consciousness play a major role.  Women are prominent, as are the issues of feminism, the environment and healing.  None recognize a central authority for their movement, and they engage in virtually no instituion bulding.  All of the movements are considered subversive by the establishment; they court direct involvement with paranormal and supernatural phenomena, and all display elements of the trickster constellation.
 
The most vocal opposition to these movements come from two sources: establishment scientists (exemplified by CSICOP) and conservative and fundamentalist religious groups.  Both of these antagonists are typified by large, male-dominated, status conscious, hierarchical institutions—the antithesis of the targets of their scorn.  Both have produced massive amounts of literature denouncing the New Age proponents and modern pagans and similar attacks were directed at the Spiritualists of the nineteenth century.  While some of the political and social goals advocated by the”deviants” have been partially incoporated into science and mainstream churches (e.g., feminism, ecology, alternative healing), the establishments’ most vehement attacks remain directed at paranormal and supernatural practices.

 
Hansen has a section about psychiatrist Ernest Hartmann who wrote the book Boundaries in the Mind:

pp. 48-49
Thick-boundary people strike one as solid, well organized, well defended, and even rigid and armored.  Thin-boundary types tend to be open, unguarded, and undefended in several psychological senses.  Women tend to have thinner boundaries than men, and children thinner than adults.  People with thin boundaries tend to have higher hypnotic ability, greater dream recall, and are more lkely to have lucid dreams.  People with thick boundaries stay with one thought until its completion; whereas those with thin boundaries show greater fluidity, and their thoughts branch from one to another.  People with very thin boundaries report more symptoms of illness; however, compared with thick-boundary types, they are able to exert more control over the autonomic nervous system and can produe greater changes in skin temperature when thinking of hot or cold situations.  Thin-boundary persons are more prone to synesthesia, blending of the senses (e.g., seeing colors when certain sounds are heard).  Differences are found in occupations as well.  Middle managers in large corporations tend to have thick boundaries, and artists, writers and musicians tend to have thinner ones.  People with thick boundaries tend to be in stable , long-term marriages; whereas thin types are more likely to be, or have been, divorced or separated.
The author goes on to say that thin-boundary types tend to report more unusual experiences including psychic experiences.  He then lists the correlations between thin-boundary types and the traits of the Trickster archetype (as described in Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book Gods in Everyman).

Obviously, many New Agers are thin-boundary types.  The beliefs of the New Ager make no sense to the more skeptically-minded because skeptics are probably most often thick-boundary types.  Skeptics don’t realize that its not just an issue of belief vs rationality but an issue of experience.  Both the skeptic and the new ager trust their experience, but they simply have different kinds of experience.

This blog is posted in the God Pod.

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Marmalade : Gaia Child

6 days later

Marmalade said

pp. 203-204
The cultural tenor of the 1980s was decidedly different than that of the 1970s, and parapsychology felt it.  In society, business success become more highly valued among the middle class baby-boomers.  Less idealism was evident, and corporate and individual greed were frequent topics of pundits.  The baby-boomers were sometimes referred to as the “Me Generation.”  The number of volunteer workers at parapsychology laborotories dwindled rapidly.

The 1980s saw a move away from the popular interest in the paranormal in the larger society, and that was accompanied by a decided change within the New Age and psychic subcultures.  Those who had previously been interested in psychic matters shifted their atention to more “spiritual” concerns that might be characterized as “a search for meaning.”  This was subtly foreshadowed when California-based Psychic magazine changed its name to New Realities in 1977.  Channeling came in to vogue, but unlike spiritualism, there was little emphasis on verifiable information or physical phenomena.  Channelers spouted “philosophy,” made dire predictions of earth changes, and gave general advice, but that was about all.  The number of books published on paranormal topics dropped precipitously betwen 1980 and 1982.  With the general shift away from psychism and toward the search for meaning, the books of Joseph Campbell became popular.  There were new magazines, printed on high quality paper, catering to that general trend.