Prominent sceptic: I may be wrong

by | Mar 13, 2024 | Story Ideas | 0 comments

March 2024

Parapsychology is not “pseudoscience”, it is proper science. So says Chris French, professor emeritus of psychology and prominent skeptic, in an interview with Skeptical Inquirer.

“I held a lot of dogmatic views, such as that all self-proclaimed psychics were either crazy or con artists, that all parapsychologists were incompetent, and that all evidence put forward in support of paranormal claims could be easily explained away by skeptics. I no longer hold any of those views”, says French, who established the Anomalist Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2000.

In his new book The Science of Weird Shit: Why Our Minds Conjure the Paranormal, set for release on 19 March, French contends that our belief in paranormal phenomena is neither ridiculous nor trivial but tells us a great deal about the human mind, which is why we should pay attention to these phenomena.

French changed his mind after having met many psychics and parapsychologists over the years. He now knows that many psi studies are conducted with just as much scientific rigor as in mainstream science (and that some mainstream studies are not).

“I ended up concluding that parapsychology, at its best, can reasonably be described as a true science … After all, science is first and foremost a method for trying to ascertain the way the world works, not an unchanging body of established ‘facts’”, he says to Skeptical Inquirer.

Although he no longer feels the “joy of skepticism” of his younger years, French still believes that genuinely paranormal phenomena do not exist. But, he admits, “I may be wrong. None of us can know for certain that all paranormal claims can be explained away in nonparanormal terms.”

Anders Bolling

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