Doing Science (1) Exploring psychics

I’ve posted a few times about the idea of doing research that hasn’t been done yet. I had a look at why science hasn’t investigated whether locally produced honey cures hayfever, pondered the look at comparing the locus of control of the religious and irreligious and then, as the previously mentioned investigation became increasingly complicated, I looked at people using religion to empower themselves against them using it to disempower (not a word) themselves.

I’ve got two more. This post is about the interesting one I think I could actually study: “psychics”. Let us be polite to psychics and assume they are not intrinsically dishonest; assume they believe they have the skill they have, and are mistaken. If you suppose a person can convince themselves they have the ability to make predictions about the immediate future or the deceased, you need to ponder how that might happen. There used to be a psychic in a small town I used to live in call the White Witch of Wellington (WW), and a friend of mine’s mother (FOMM) used to see WW. WW had a very perceptive ability to tell when FOMM was sad. FOMM used that as evidence of WW’s psychic ability, which you can probably imagine I very politely discussed with her over wine, at length. Equally oddly, both my dad and my partner can tell when a person is seriously ill or about to die. It’s a creepy ability, but a skill they developed working in healthcare. The ability to see people about to die is also considered, by the ready-to-believe, evidence for psychics. Consider the possibility that psychics are people with skills like that of WW and my partner and dad, but don’t know why they have the ability, so they fill in the gaps.

If that is the case, that physics are self-deluded individuals who are plying a non-supernatural skill, then what is the natural skill? I have an idea and, more importantly, a testable hypothesis: psychics have a very high emotional quotient (EQ). (This hypothesis could change to there is a positive correlation between the success of a psychic and their emotional quotient.) Obviously, which hypothesis I pick will effect the method I develop.

The first step is to communicate with some psychics. (I Googled it, there’s loads of them near me.) I’d use a preliminary conversation to establish a way to measure the success of a psychic, their process and other stuff I’d need to properly do such an investigation. Once I’ve developed such a metric, the task is to collect some people and measure their EQ. I think the easiest way to do this would be to have a group of psychics and a control group. Establishing an EQ is reasonably simple. Like an IQ test, it can be done on paper. But if one knows they are taking an EQ test, especially if they think the study may be attacking of their career, they can easily lower their result. So the quiz and the aim of the study must be disguised.

My interpretation, then, would be that “psychic” activity can be explained by people plying a skill developed through a high EQ.

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