Closed-minded: the non-ability to accept results. Psychics fail test.

In a followup to this story, the results are in: A scientific experiment has found that two mediums were unable to demonstrate that they had special psychic powers.

BBC News – Psychic pair fail scientific test.

The test by researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London, tried to establish whether mediums could use psychic abilities to identify something about five unseen volunteers.

The results, carried out under test conditions, did not show evidence of any unexplained powers of insight.

The experiment, designed by Chris French, head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, asked two professional mediums to write something about five individuals who were concealed behind a screen.

These five volunteers were then asked to try to identify themselves from these psychic readings – with a success rate of only one in five.

This was a result that was “entirely consistent with the operation of chance alone”, said Professor French.


Tipster Ross Balch (Sciencism podcast) notes what is particularly jading about this experiment – the response of the medium Patricia Putt that scientists or closed minded and that the so called “psychic energy” cannot work without face to face contact and talking to the subjects. He and many others suspect the reason these mediums need a face to face conversation is so that they can use cold reading techniques, whether they know it or not.

Ross continues, “Unfortunately I don’t think skeptics will ever escape the accusation of being closed minded.” Had this experiment showed evidence that these mediums really do have some interesting ability, the scientists and the skeptical community would have been thrilled to investigate further. “However it seems that no matter how much evidence is presented that psychic abilities don’t exist, these people refuse to change their beliefs, the very definition of closed minded.”

The psychics had agreed to the protocol beforehand.

The Merseyside Skeptics and Simon Singh said (on Twitter) that this has been a valuable learning experience about testing, making sure all potential leakages of information are blocked. Apparently it blocked the actual psychic power too. Or something. But until we have something anomalous to explain, we can’t accept that such psychic powers exist.

  4 comments for “Closed-minded: the non-ability to accept results. Psychics fail test.

  1. One Eyed Jack
    October 31, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    This is the reaction I expect from these experiments.

    I don’t think it’s possible to change a true believer’s mind with evidence and logic. They are emotionally invested in their belief. It takes a strong emotional event to shake a deeply held belief… a crisis of faith.

    Among the religious, these crisis come up when someone loses a loved one. Why would do this? After the crisis, the believer can be left more or less committed to their belief.

    Among conspiracy theorists, new-agers, psychics, etc., I don’t know what an equivalent event would be. Sometimes I think when you’ve gone down that road, there’s no coming back.

  2. Kitty
    October 31, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    I actually give them credit for wanting to be tested. Sadly, even being disproven will not keep people from coming to them. They have nothing to lose by being tested, and will get some publicity (skeptics do NEED to keep doing this, because for those that haven’t been sucked into paying for a psychic we need to keep showing they are a waste of time and money). They offer something that some people seem to need, but those people are the most vulnerable and it’s sad that psychics exploit them.

    • One Eyed Jack
      October 31, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      I think many of these people are sincere in their belief. It is tied with such strong emotion that when they fail, they need an external reason for the failure. To accept that their “ability” may be false is harder than rationalizing it away.

  3. John Stewart
    November 1, 2012 at 3:42 AM

    Actually it is what the Germans call Mimik that “cannot work without face to face contact”. My hypothesis is that people who believe themselves to be psychic, if they have any power at all, are simply on the opposite end of the autism spectrum. Now _that_ might be worth researching.

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