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DECLASSIFIED DOCS: CIA Spent Decades Studying Psychic Powers

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released 13 million pages of declassified documents detailing the agency’s 1,864 investigations into the use of psychic powers.

The data dump contains 1,864 instances in which the CIA seriously investigated psychic phenomena, including the use of psychics by law enforcement, research with the Pentagon, using psychics to spy on the Soviet Union and attempts to debunk scientists skeptical of psychic powers.

CIA scientists even tested celebrity psychic Uri Geller in 1973. They found he “demonstrated his paranormal perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner.” The documents indicate Geller partly replicated images drawn in another room with relative accuracy.

The CIA’s research into psychic powers does a lot more to prove the agency’s shoddy research methods than it does to demonstrate the actual existence of psychic phenomena. Most mainstream scientists suspect that psychic phenomena do not exist, but investigators often produce experimental statistical evidence for alleged occurrences of potentially psychic events.

The CIA’s scientific investigation of psychic power likely indicate that any science which heavily relies on statistics may have a powerful “placebo effect.” Researchers are able to “remember the hits and forget the misses” simply by repeating testing until it produces “experimental evidence” that meets typical scientific standards for statistics purely by chance.

“Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue,” Richard Horton, editor of the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet, wrote in a study published last April. “Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

As a result of these problems, researchers have a documented tendency to find evidence of phenomena they happen to believe in. In a survey of 2,000 research psychologists conducted in 2011, over half admitted they selectively reported experiments, which gave the result they were after.

Another study found that 34 percent of researchers self-report that they have engaged in “questionable research practices,” including “dropping data points on a gut feeling” and “changing the design, methodology, and results of a study in response to pressures from a funding source,” whereas 72 percent of those surveyed knew of colleagues who had done so.

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