|MadSci Network: NeuroScience|
Dear Mr. Peterson, If you were to take a good, hard look at all of the facts, data, and research that has been performed on so-called "psychic" abilities, I am extremely confident that you would find that no good, solid evidence that such abilities exist, in anyone. No carefully controlled scientific studies have been able to report such powers although several have attempted to. And although it is true that the CIA (and the KGB) did try to harness the powers of these supposed paranormal phenomena, there is no evidence that they discovered anything at all. I think it is a very good bet that those sorts of experiments were abandoned decades ago (although one never can tell with these types of organizations.) Does this mean that paranormal powers absolutely, 100% do not exist? No. It is essentially impossible to prove a negative. To prove that ESP, etc. did not exist, you would basically have to test every single person on the face of the planet. If you didn't find anything, then you would be justified in denying the existence of psychic powers (although you still couldn't deny the POSSIBILITY of such powers.) Obviously, this will never happen. So people will go on hoping and wondering, even though all the available evidence indicates that psychic phenomena are not real. I can't point you to any good Web sites myself. If you start searching the Web, you will quickly find out that it's very hard to separate the good stuff from the trash in such an extremely controversial field. Duke University (Durham, North Carolina, USA) did have a serious scientific program in paranormal research for a long time, but I don't know if it still exists. I would say if you come across studies or reports from Duke, they are likely to be more reliable and careful than those done anywhere else. You can probably tell from what I've written that I don't believe in psychic powers. So I really can't address the issue of whether we all have these powers or if only some of us do. Basically, I think that none of us do. And I know that most scientists agree with me. That doesn't necessarily mean we're right, but it will take a whole lot of solid evidence to change our minds. And given the record of paranormal research so far, I just don't think it's likely to happen. In fact, I'd bet good money that we will find evidence of an alien intelligence somewhere in the universe before we prove the existence of supernormal powers of the mind. Joe Simpson MD/PhD Student, Neurosciences School of Medicine MadSci Administrator and Neuroscience Moderator firstname.lastname@example.org
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