182. Andrew Paquette Brings Statistical Rigor to Psi Experiences

Interview examines new methodology for estimating probability of psi and paranormal experiences.


Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with paranormal dream researcher Andrew Paquette. During the interview Paquette explains his new methodology for understanding spontaneous psi experiences:

Alex Tsakiris: The underlying assumption that you’re countering and that’s that spontaneous first person accounts can’t be wrestled into some kind of scientific methodology, right?

Andrew Paquette: Yes. One of the things I decided to do was take an extremely adverse way of evaluating spontaneous psi. I’m basically looking at out-of-body experiences and precognitive experiences and trying to arrive at a statistical measure for them. I’m letting alone the spiritual material and after death communications and so on, and just dealing with where I have a lot of verified examples.

Alex Tsakiris: Are the applications for this methodology in other paranormal research? I immediately think of, for example, medium communication.

Andrew Paquette: Absolutely. I’m really hoping other researchers notice this because there are so many studies that completely ignore the spontaneous experiences because of the kinds of complaints I was talking about and I described in the paper. This methodology basically fixes that problem.

Alex Tsakiris: So, what are the chances of this making a difference?  I have a problem accepting that the lack of a methodology is what’s really been holding us back here. I’m kind of torn. On one hand I think it’s great and I think it’s important to have these stakes in the ground that can say, hey, here’s something we can anchor to. Here’s something we can go forward with and start adding more data to the pile.

Then on the other hand I just wonder if it’s going to make any difference? I think of Ian Stevenson, and his work on reincarnation. I’ve talked to a lot of folks in different fields who say, “Gee, I’ve really looked at that research and I was very persuaded because the methodology is obviously very sound.”  So, that would give us hope that something like what you’ve presented could become that for researchers.

And then on the other hand, we have to acknowledge that the vast majority of the Western scientific community doesn’t a care what kind of methodology Ian Stevenson used because they think all that reincarnation stuff is. So what do you think the real chances are that this methodology can give us somewhat of a breakthrough in these areas?

Andrew Paquette: Well, I think that anytime we add knowledge to a situation that’s always an improvement, however slight it might be. There are always going to be people, for one reason or another, who just cannot accept the data that they have. As far as I’m concerned, you only go for the ones that you can reach and that’s perfectly fine.

Now, I do think that this is going to reach some people because there will be readers of this who will appreciate the value it has for studies of spontaneous experience. So what I’m hoping will happen, and I think is at least quite possible, is that you’ll start seeing other studies that use a method like this in order to validate spontaneous experiences, which will mean you will see more of them in the literature. And it also means that you will probably see a greater level of resistance to arguments that they’re just anecdotes, which I’m sure you’re sick to death of by now.

Andrew Paquette’s Website

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