Friday, July 31, 2009

I'm Starting to Read about the History of Psi Research

I'm about halfway through "Ghost Hunters; William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death" by Deborah Blum. It is basically the history of psychic research from the beginning of the spiritualist movement in the mid-nineteenth century.
It is remarkable how similar it is to the attitudes and activities of psychic research today.

Many serious scientists, even at the beginning, like Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley, refused to have anything to do with what they saw as irrational superstition. Others, like Alfred Russel Wallace wanted to use the scientific method to study it empirically and others just wanted to debunk everything.

As is still true today, a lot of charlatans and con artists were exposed by the researchers and professional magicians were especially good at that kind of debunking, but there remained those who really preferred to study reports of phenomena that were less easily dismissed. This latter group tended to get marginalized by mainstream scientists and respected scientific journals refused to publish their papers. Not much has changed.

I don't know what direction the book will take from here, but if I think it's interesting, I'll write a review, (personally I think the butler did it).

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