After Meriwether kindly volunteers to send SF Weekly the latest edition of Dead Studies, the quarterly of the Grateful Dead Archive, he is momentarily flummoxed by the newspaper's address. The newsroom's suite number, 710, is identical to the address of the Dead's famed Ashbury Street abode of the 1960s. "Dude, that's a great number," he says. "Serendipity and synchronicity abound. You just proved that."

If only it were so easy.

Had Isaac Newton set out to formulate the laws of parapsychology instead of gravity, he'd have been in for a challenge. Because in the world of parapsychology, the apple does not observably fall from the tree every time — or even consistently. Perhaps only people sympathetic to the notion of falling apples will see the apple fall, and only then in ideal apple-falling conditions. Parapsychology, laments skeptic Ray Hyman, is "the only field of scientific inquiry" that lacks even one established experiment to "be assigned to students with the expectation that they will observe the original results." There is, he continues, no demonstration of telepathy, clairvoyance (mind-reading), or psychokinesis (the ability to mentally move or influence objects) for which parapsychologists "can confidently specify conditions that will enable anyone — let alone a novice — to reliably witness the phenomenon."

Psychic ability, counter its advocates, cannot be reproduced on cue. Statistician Jessica Utts, also a Parapsychological Association board member, compares the situation to baseball: "Even the best hitters ... cannot hit on demand. Nor can we predict when someone will hit or when they will [hit] a home run," she writes. "We cannot even predict whether or not a home run will occur in a particular game. That does not mean that home runs don't exist."

Krippner likens it to America's other national pastime: "Whatever psychic ability is, it's not something you can turn on and off. It's a bit like sexual experience — you can't guarantee every experience will be ecstatic or blissful. The conditions have to be just right for it. Sex doesn't operate on demand. It's just too complicated."

You can see home runs and you can see sex — and, for that matter, you can see apples falling out of trees. But, in a laboratory setting, you don't exactly "see" ESP. The field's most compelling work is the result of painstaking repetitions, complex tabulations, and "statistically significant" deviations from the "null hypothesis" — the outcome you'd expect due to sheer chance. To dismiss the results of successful studies as mere statistical flukes — be they Krippner's work at Maimonides or the decades-long, government-funded psychic experiments at Stanford — would veer into fanaticism. Yet beating the null hypothesis is one thing. It's another to explain how you did it — and then do it again.

In his overwhelmingly positive analysis of the Maimonides dream telepathy experiments, Yale's Irvin Child affirmed that Krippner's results were intriguing and the methodology was sound — but nothing was proven. "Statistical significance indicates only the presence of consistency," wrote Child, "and does not identify its source." Even repetitions of "the statistically significant outcome of the Maimonides experiments" wouldn't "establish the presence of the kind of anomaly called ESP." Repetitions, of course, have been hard to come by.

And this encapsulates the ongoing cycle of parapsychology. Over the years, one study after another has been released alleging that something is going on; last year Cornell psychology professor Daryl Bem made waves claiming experimental evidence of "precognition" when subjects guessed the location of erotic imagery behind multiple curtains at better-than-chance odds. Eventually, numerous studies are bundled together via a process called meta-analysis, which advocates claim indicates that something is really going on. But, sex and baseball analogies notwithstanding, nothing is happening on demand. So it's a debatable point that "the presence of the kind of anomaly called ESP" is any more established now than it was when the Dead were dropping by to visit Krippner at the dream lab. In the ongoing debate between parapsychology's advocates and counter-advocates, an agreement hasn't even been reached on the shape of the table. This ought to put Krippner — a unique conduit between the two camps and skeptics' favorite parapsychologist — in an awkward place. But it doesn't.

Rather than crossing swords with the critics of parapscyhology, Krippner often finds himself nodding his head — "really, I agree with about 95 percent of what they say. Nothing in parapsychology is guaranteed to replicate. So, really, I understand where the counter-advocates are coming from." He does not expect to see mainstream scientific acceptance of ESP in his lifetime. Sadly, he does not even expect to see the day ESP research acquires mainstream approval as a worthwhile endeavor. "And I am not losing sleep over this." Despite spending the bulk of his life in the field, it's just not something he gets worked up over. "I don't have any great emotional investment in this. The world is not gonna stand or fall based on one experiment or another. I have done what I can to expand the boundaries of science and human capacities. If [the argument for parapsychology] falls apart — so be it. If it is established, we've done what scientists are supposed to do."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
13 comments
philthom4s
philthom4s

Would there be all on four types of person in him? Also, is he going to be in Calgary any time soon to  do a show or to be paid for services?

Phillius | www.mybite.ca

psychespace
psychespace

FYI, the documentary that I hope to make is not in any way associated with the student film described below by the esteemed Dr. Jean Millay. It is not a Saybrook project; it is rather a project I have undertaken with my production company "Native Land Productions". With the approval of Dr. Krippner, it will honor and celebrate his 80th year on the planet. Please write KRIPPNER in the subject line when you send your stories, archival footage, and memorabilia to me at: psychespace@earthlink.net.. Thank you! Nadine Vaughan, Ph.D.

psychespace
psychespace

I have known Stanley Krippner since the mid 1970s when I met him on the Princeton Campus at an East Coast meeting of the Humanist Psychology Institute.  Many years later, he served as the chairman of my doctoral dissertation committee. Since then, he has remained an esteemed colleague and friend. Krippner is the most scientifically sophisticated person I know . His research, as his words, are modest when compared with the enormous body of work he has contributed to the field of psychology and the world. As a filmmaker, I now look forward to making a documentary of his life and works. I encourage you to send your stories and early footage (all subject to verification), about this remarkable man, to me at: psychespace@earthlink.net.  Please write KRIPPNER in the subject line. Thank you! Nadine Vaughan, Ph.D.

Jean Millay
Jean Millay

Dr. Krippner is one of the most intelligent, spiritual, leaders in the study of consciousness of our age. Among his scientific research, he bravely introduced Humanistic Psychology to the U.S.S.R. a decade before Ronald Reagan began calling it "The Evil Empire." Stanley Krippner's powerful influence there helped pave the way for Glasnos, at the end of the Cold War. He is greatly loved for his work in many other countries, such as Brazil. Ever since he allowed me to participate in one of his dream telepathy studies in 1969, I have followed his extraordinary contributions to knowledge. He deserves a Nobel Prize. A film about his life was begun by a non-professional film maker, a few years ago, and was dropped for many illogical reasons, though one was for running out of money. The footage is still available, and with help from others, it could be completed. Helpful donors should contact: www.saybrook.edu.

Custom Logo Design
Custom Logo Design

i am the one saying on media that it is impossible to find a loophole in our security... and it happened 2 days after my comments.

mMzotec Shaman
mMzotec Shaman

I had a reoccuring dream of 911 about 6 months before the planes hit nyc.I had been on tour with dead just before that tragic event.I am Mazotec shaman

Briandrake9
Briandrake9

One of the world-class healers that Stan Krippner documented and worked with who earned a Master of Science in Omnicorporeal Reality for his paranormal abilities is Dennis Adams in Mt. Shasta, CA. Search for him on the internet and you'll see why Stan Krippner's work is so important - for helping us understand and extend the realm of what is truly possible. Dennis Adams teamed with healer Olga Worrall and proved under scientific conditions that life essence can be altered with the mind. Results were published in a journal of psychic research in 1983. Adams also showed other researchers such as Henry Dakin how the mind can be used for a variety of effects on matter.

Juris D Ahn
Juris D Ahn

Astounding. Important information for us all.

Michael M. Hughes
Michael M. Hughes

Superb article about one of my favorite researchers. However, please correct the spelling of mescaline (there's an "e" at the end).

Levinasfan
Levinasfan

Stanley sensei, Laurence's Goddad.

freds4hb
freds4hb

I already knew you'd write this Joe.

Eric J. Lindblom PhD
Eric J. Lindblom PhD

No, I hadn't heard about the ants. Thanks for asking, though. Eric J. Lindblom PhD

CPR
CPR

As one of the ants who's lived in Stanley's pocket over the years, I thank you for this excellent piece. You hardly scratched the surface of this amazing man's life, but it's a worthy start.

 
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...