Pretending there isn’t an enormous bias against any alternative form of spirituality or the legitimacy of psi in general is sort of like pretending there’s no such thing as racism, sexism, or homophobia. In fact, the bias against these concepts is almost more embedded into our culture by all of our religious, media, and academic institutions than any of those things. Don’t believe me? Ask any scientist that’s tried to study this sort of shit. I’m sure some Disinfonauts already caught this excellent Slate piece about Daryl Bem’s work, but if not, it’s definitely worth your time. It’s a long and highly recommended read, buuuuuut if you’re lazy and you want me to sum it up for you, I pretty much just did in the headline:
“When the study went public, about six months later, some of Bem’s colleagues guessed it was a hoax. Other scholars, those who believed in ESP—theirs is a small but fervent field of study—saw his paper as validation of their work and a chance for mainstream credibility.
But for most observers, at least the mainstream ones, the paper posed a very difficult dilemma. It was both methodologically sound and logically insane. Daryl Bem had seemed to prove that time can flow in two directions—that ESP is real. If you bought into those results, you’d be admitting that much of what you understood about the universe was wrong. If you rejected them, you’d be admitting something almost as momentous: that the standard methods of psychology cannot be trusted, and that much of what gets published in the field—and thus, much of what we think we understand about the mind—could be total bunk.
If one had to choose a single moment that set off the “replication crisis” in psychology—an event that nudged the discipline into its present and anarchic state, where even textbook findings have been cast in doubt—this might be it: the publication, in early 2011, of Daryl Bem’s experiments on second sight.
The replication crisis as it’s understood today may yet prove to be a passing worry or else a mild problem calling for a soft corrective. It might also grow and spread in years to come, flaring from the social sciences into other disciplines, burning trails of cinder through medicine, neuroscience, and chemistry. It’s hard to see into the future. But here’s one thing we can say about the past: The final research project of Bem’s career landed like an ember in the underbrush and set his field ablaze.”
Oh, by the way, Disinfo no longer posts on Weekends and Holidays. See y’all Monday.
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