Of two minds: Sceptic-proponent collaboration within parapsychology


Correspondence should be addressed to Richard Wiseman, Psychology Department, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield Campus, College Lane, Hatfield, Herts AL10 9AB, UK (e-mail: r.wiseman@herts.ac.uk).


The first author, a proponent of evidence for psychic ability, and the second, a sceptic, have been conducting a systematic programme of collaborative sceptic-proponent research in parapsychology. This has involved carrying out joint experiments in which each investigator individually attempted to mentally influence the electrodermal activity of participants at a distant location. The first two collaborations obtained evidence of ‘experimenter effects’, that is, experiments conducted by the proponent obtained significant results but those conducted by the sceptic did not. This paper describes a new collaborative study that attempted to replicate our previous findings and explore potential explanations for past results. The new study failed to replicate our previous findings. The paper investigates whether the results obtained in our initial studies may have been caused by a genuine psychic effect, and this third experiment failed to replicate this finding because some aspect of the study disrupted the production of that effect, or whether the results from our first two studies represented chance findings or undetected subtle artifacts, and the results obtained in the present study accurately reflect the absence of a remote detection of staring effect. The implications of this work are discussed, along with the benefits of conducting collaborative work for resolving disagreements in other controversial areas of psychology.