Statistical Science

Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology

Jessica Utts

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Abstract

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.

Article information

Source
Statist. Sci. Volume 6, Number 4 (1991), 363-378.

Dates
First available in Project Euclid: 19 April 2007

Permanent link to this document
http://projecteuclid.org/euclid.ss/1177011577

Digital Object Identifier
doi:10.1214/ss/1177011577

JSTOR
links.jstor.org

Keywords
Effect size psychic research statistical controversies randomness vote-counting

Citation

Utts, Jessica. Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology. Statist. Sci. 6 (1991), no. 4, 363--378. doi:10.1214/ss/1177011577. http://projecteuclid.org/euclid.ss/1177011577.


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See also

  • See Comment: M. J. Bayarri, James Berger. [Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology]: Comment. Statist. Sci., Volume 6, Number 4 (1991), 379--382.
  • See Comment: Ree Dawson. [Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology]: Comment. Statist. Sci., Volume 6, Number 4 (1991), 382--385.
  • See Comment: Persi Diaconis. [Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology]: Comment. Statist. Sci., Volume 6, Number 4 (1991), 386--386.
  • See Comment: Joel B. Greenhouse. [Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology]: Comment: Parapsychology--On the Margins of Science?. Statist. Sci., Volume 6, Number 4 (1991), 386--389.
  • See Comment: Ray Hyman. [Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology]: Comment. Statist. Sci., Volume 6, Number 4 (1991), 389--392.
  • See Comment: Robert L. Morris. [Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology]: Comment. Statist. Sci., Volume 6, Number 4 (1991), 393--395.
  • See Comment: Frederick Mosteller. [Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology]: Comment. Statist. Sci., Volume 6, Number 4 (1991), 395--396.
  • See Comment: Jessica Utts. [Replication and Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology]: Rejoinder. Statist. Sci., Volume 6, Number 4 (1991), 396--403.