Friday, July 29, 2005

Comments on Psychics

Since I am a psychology professor I thought I would add some information for the comments made on Point/Counterpoint about psychics in the first & second entries on Faith/Spirituality/God/Religion.

I'm using my student's text, Exploring Psychology in Modules, 6th edition by David Myers for reference but you can look in just about any Introductory Psychology text and find similiar information.

Here is an abbreviated summary of what is presented:

* No psychic was able to predict the $331 million Big Game jackpot of 2002.

* Between 1978 & 1985, the New Year's  predictions of the National Enquirer's favorite psychics yielded 2 accurate predictions out of 486 (Strentz, 1986)

* During 1990's they were all wrong in predicting surprising events (Madonna did not become a gospel singer, the Statue of Liberty did not lose both her arms in a terrorist blast, Queen Elizabeth did not abdicate her throne to enter a convent).

* They missed big events like 9/11, Florida presidential ballot controversey etc.

* Analysis of psychic visions offered to police departments find no more accurate than guesses made by others (Reiser, 1982). Those that work with police departments offer hundreds of guesses which make their odds of being correct higher & they do get an occasional correct guess which they can report to the media. Vague predictions can be retrofitted to match prediction (I see a female murdered...well duh!)

* Sweat & Durm (1993) conducted an experiment  where they asked 50 of the largest cities in America if they ever used psychics. 65% said they never have and those who did said not one had found it helpful. Thousands of psychics made mispredictions to police on the whereabouts of Chandra Levy, Washington D.C. intern.

* Murray & Wheeler (1937) tested prophetic dreams using the Lindbergh boy being kidnapped. 1300 dreams were submitted and only 5% of the dreams had the boy dead. 4 people's dreams out of the 1300 had the boy dead among trees. This is no better than chance but of course some will claim it was psychic abilities!

* On the APA site there is no Division for Paranormal/ESP!

You may be interested in reading "Reducing Student Belief in the Paranormal" by Barney Beins, PhD and "Scientists Should Look For Basic Causes, Not Just Effects" by Kurt Salzinger, PhD.

I have to add this! I just got this in my email! Ha!

"When a woman came through my cashier's line at Wal-Mart, her purchase came to twenty dollars. "That's what I had in my hand. You must be psychic," she joked. "I am," I teased. "I knew exactly how much you wanted to spend." The next customer stepped up and, looking at me with a big grin, pulled out a one-dollar bill." 

--Contributed to "All In a Day's Work" by Melissa Morse


jouell3935 said...


lurkynat said...

Dear Deborah,
thanks for the opinions...interesting.... nat

sierrajazz said...

I enjoyed reading this... I had always wondered about the statisitics of all the claims.  

plittle said...

Nice entry. By the way, Andi(Artloner)'s comment that you replied to was most definitely tongue-in-cheek.