Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology
Parapsychology, the laboratory study of psychic phenomena, has had its history interwoven, with that of statistics. Many of the controversies in parapsychology have focused on statistical issues, and statistical models have played an integral role in the experimental work. Recently, parapsychologists have been using meta-analysis as a tool for synthesizing large bodies of work. This paper presents an overview of the use of statistics in parapsychology and offers a summary of the meta-analyses that have been conducted. It begins with some anecdotal information about the involvement of statistics and statisticians with the early history of parapsychology. Next, it is argued that most nonstatisticians do not appreciate the connection between power and "successful" replication of experimental effects. Returning to parapsychology, a particular experimental regime is examined by summarizing an extended debate over the interpretation of the results. A new set of experiments designed to resolve the debate is then reviewed. Finally, meta-analyses from several areas of parapsychology are summarized. It is concluded that the overall evidence indicates that there is an anomalous effect in need of an explanation.
Permanent link to this document: http://projecteuclid.org/euclid.ss/1177011577
Digital Object Identifier: doi:10.1214/ss/1177011577