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Psi Encyclopedia

The Psi Encyclopedia: An Alternative to Overly Skeptical Articles on Wikipedia

I have remarked previously here about how much of a dumpster fire Wikipedia is when it comes to topics at the fringes of science and history (ie. the topics we like discussing here). Due to both organised groups of, and ‘lone wolf’, skeptics, most pages on these topics communicate the skeptical point of view, without leaving barely a trace of the information or data that makes the topics interesting in the first place. As such, I’ve often recommended that people do *not* go to Wikipedia to find out more information on fringe topics.

But now, finally, a new resource has emerged that offers more comprehensive, balanced information – at least on topics related to ‘psi’ and afterlife research. The Psi Encyclopedia has been created by the well-respected Society for Psychical Research as an antidote to the biased information being presented on Wikipedia and elsewhere:

There is now a vast research literature that validates the existence of psi as an anomalous, fleeting and little understood aspect of human experience. Psi researchers believe that it has been demonstrated many times over, and in a variety of contexts. But this remains controversial, since psi appears to contradict long-accepted scientific principles. In particular, accumulating evidence of links between mental experience and biological brain functions lead many to believe that the brain is the sole source of consciousness. Some scientists are known to sympathize with psi experimentalists, who use well-established statistical methods and robust methodology: the possibility of psychic experience has been seriously considered by an impressive number of Nobel prize winners and other eniment people. However, a vocal minority of sceptics – often active in sceptic organisations – campaign in books, articles and in the media against psi research, disparaging it as ‘pseudoscience’ and disputing its conclusions.

In recent years this conflict has spread to the Internet, notably the free encyclopedia Wikipedia, where editors hostile to ‘fringe science’ routinely edit articles on psi research to make them conform to their view. As a result, articles that were originally written by knowledgeable experts have become adulterated with misleading claims and assertions.

The Psi Encyclopedia is being created by the Society for Psychical Research, funded by a bequest, to provide a more informative view of psi research (also referred to as ‘psychical research’ and ‘parapsychology’), one that reflects the findings of experimenters and investigators.

The writing project has been underway for a couple of years, but has only just now launched to the public with 110 entries written by around thirty authors and experts. (I was kindly asked to contribute a piece on James Randi’s ‘Million Dollar Challenge‘ (likely based on my previous essay on the topic here at the Grail.)

The SPR notes that readers “are asked to bear in mind that this is a work in progress, a multi-year project that will see numerous additions, changes and improvements” – so if you feel like something is missing, please be patient, and feel free to contact the SPR with your suggestion.

Link: The Psi Encyclopedia

  1. Well crafted sweet shop
    It’s a beautiful resource with some extensive articles.

    The most admirable quality is the familiarity each author has with their subjects. The quality inevitably varies according the literary character of each writer. Some articles are more erudite than others and those that are brief still set a higher bar than equivalent blogs.

    To make a point I thought the Geller article (GLP)could have done with more salt. Then on second thoughts there are multitudes of critical articles about the person. Skeptic’s Dictionary and others consistently paint him in a bad light with no concession to balance. Why, therefore, should a Psy Encylopedia be expected to detail opposing sides?

    I look forward to the growth of this project and the addition of cross references and embedded links. It’s an important project and Godspeed to all involved.

  2. Wkipedia woo woo
    As far as Wikipedia goes with anything even approaching a serious subject I would not bet the farm on it being totally accurate, this has been apparent for quite some time now (a decade at least) and most especially concerning anything “Abnormal” or “Fortean” so IMHO this Encyclopedia is an uber bonus. It looks to me to be rather objective (outside looking in) So far from what I have been able to read of it. A small quote from one of my most favorite subjects: “Psychedelically Induced States

    ‘Psychedelics’ is the name given to a class of psychoactive substances such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, ketamine and ayahuasca. They are defined as those ‘which, without causing physical addiction, craving, major physiological disturbances, delirium, disorientation, or amnesia, more or less reliably produce thought, mood, and perceptual changes’.11

    Intellectuals, scientists, explorers and academics in the developed world have only encountered them within the last hundred years or so. However, indigenous shamanic knowledge of psychedelic substances goes back several millennia, according to the archaeological evidence12; while a wealth of spontaneous psi-related experiences has been reported in relation to the ingestion of psychedelics – in experimental, clinical and recreational contexts.13 14 15”
    and this: “Despite a lack of clear evidential value as to the genuine nature of these experiences, subjective accounts and self-report measures, such as those used in surveys, do at least offer important directions for future empirical research. The findings from surveys can also help triangulate data from other contexts, such as that coming from psychedelically-assisted psychotherapy and from anthropologists’ accounts of indigenous shamanic practices elsewhere.35” *Looks reasonable to me *;)
    Thank you for this.

    1. Robert McLuhan
      Thanks for the comments, which in different ways get to the nub of it! (I’m the commissioning editor of the Encyclopedia.) One of its main purposes is to show that psi research is a scholarly and scientific endeavor, which I believe is not generally known. That would not have been helped by a long piece on the controversies around Geller, which in this context are a distraction. By contrast, Professor David Luke, the author of the psychedelics piece, has been doing serious work in this area, and there’s a lot to be discovered about it, once the barriers to research are lifted. That’s what we want to be promoting.

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