The author of The Trickster and the Paranormal, George P. Hansen has started a new blog, The Paranormal Trickster Blog. His only post so far is about a conference that will be held in Vancouver, BC. The conference, called A meeting of minds should have taken place on July 15-16, 2007. Jonathan Schooler and Dean Radin are co-hosts.
Hansen lists the invitees that include psychologists, neuroscientists, members of scientific community, members of the skeptic community and more people. The list in more detail in Hansen’s post. What’s interesting in the conference is the purpose:
The expressed purpose of the conference is to explore why academia so actively avoids the paranormal despite the wide interest by the general public.
To acquaint the visiting scientists with the field and to facilitate discussion, parapsychologists will present evidence for the existence of ESP and review theoretical problems of the phenomena.
George Hansen then comments that in his opinion this conference will change nothing and that the parapsychologist should blame themselves for this. Here’s quite a long quote of his commentary:
Will this effort succeed? Let’s remember, it’s been 125 years since the founding of the SPR (Society for Psychical Research). Parapsychologists have published their work continuously since that founding. Innumerable scientists have learned of the research through books, journal articles, and conferences. Yet the field is now no closer to respectability than it was during the 19th century. Arguably, it is further from it.
Yet still today, many parapsychologists seem to believe that if they present their evidence objectively to other scientists, the broader scientific community will begin to accept them as legitimate members. Traditional scientific funding sources will welcome proposals, major journals will seek papers on psi, and conferences will regularly include symposia on paranormal topics. But such hope is forlorn.
Parapsychologists do not seem to realize that their field is inherently marginal. Psi phenomena are liminal, and they carry a taint, a stigma. This is nothing new. The stigma did not develop with the rise of modern science, nor with advent of the Enlightenment, nor with the Reformation. The stigma has been seen for thousands of years in hundreds of cultures. Attempts to directly engage psi has consequences—one being the continuing marginality of psychical research.
Until parapsychologists recognize this state of affairs, they will remain bewildered—and bitterly disappointed.