Debunking the paranormal – with science

Listening to Definitely Not the Opera today on CBC I was excited by an interview with Susan Blackmore, a UK writer and professor who began with a PhD in parapsychology and ended up, after years of experiments failed to turn up any evidence that the paranormal has any existence in reality, abandoning her field of study. I went to her website and read “Why I have given up,” a chapter from Skeptical Odysseys: Personal Accounts by the World’s Leading Paranormal Inquirers (edited by P. Kurtz). Her career path is bit like that of a zoologist specializing in a particular creature, only to discover that it doesn’t exist. What’s especially enlightening about Dr. Blackmore’s odyssey is that she could have – like the subjects she has studied – turned her energies into explaining why she wasn’t getting the results she expected, rather than facing the reality of her scientific conclusions. Amazing person. (And I’m always pleased to see another nail in the coffin of superstition.)

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