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Guy Lyon Playfair

In these articles, longtime skeptic-watcher Guy Lyon Playfair takes a skeptical look at some of their activities. His books include: This House is Haunted, Twin Telepathy, The Flying Cow: Exploring the Psychic World of Brazil, and If This Be Magic: The Forgotten Power of Hypnosis.

The Enfield Poltergeist on “Sky TV” UK

What Hath Sky Wrought?by Guy Lyon Playfair Sky Living TV showed the first of three parts of its serial The Enfield Haunting on May 3, 2015 after a well-organised publicity campaign that sold quite a number of my book on the subject even before the screening. It also generated some good news articles by reporters...

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The Enfield Poltergeist Explained Again – The Deborah Hyde Version

by Guy Lyon Playfair Covering Things Up: Hyde's Vague Generalisations and Outright Misformation For more than thirty years since the Enfield events ended, Janet, the (then) twelve-year-old who was the focus for much (but not all) of the activity, has done her best to avoid publicity, taking part in just one TV interview and one...

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How Skepticism Blocks Progress in Science

Lazzaro Spallanzani's Scientific "Heresy"by Guy Lyon Playfair Bat ear to human radar technology delayed for decades due to the irrational science-denial of dogmatic skepticism. In 1794 the eminent Italian physiologist Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-99), one of the founders of experimental biology, published a modest but heretical proposal. Long intrigued by the ability of bats to fly...

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The Enfield Poltergeist – Joe Nickell Explains All

The Art of Cherry-Pickingby Guy Lyon Playfair 'As a magician experienced in the dynamics of trickery, I have carefully examined Playfair’s lengthy account of the disturbances at Enfield and have concluded that they are best explained as children’s pranks.' This weighty pronouncement comes from CSI (formerly CSICOP)’s chief hit-man and serial cherry-picker Joe Nickell, in...

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Mental Processes Out of Balance

Welcome to Skeptics Anonymousby Guy Lyon Playfair Organised skeptics tend to be pretty ignorant about the subjects they hope to debunk. L. David Leiter of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania was for several years 'actively' engaged with the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking (PhACT) after being introduced to it by an old friend, a sometime CSICOP supporter...

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Military Remote Viewing – The Story

by Guy Lyon Playfair With the publication of Paul H. Smith's Reading the Enemy's Mind (New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 2005) we can now read the whole story of the U.S. military intelligence programme of 'remote viewing' that began in California in the early seventies and came to an inglorious end in 1995 with the...

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How to Become a Media Skeptic

by Guy Lyon Playfair Need a second income? Then why not become a Media Skeptic, one of those who pop up on our screens almost daily to assure us that "the paranormal" (or psi, as it is known in the trade) doesn't exist? You don't need any qualifications, though it helps if you have a...

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Teach Yourself Skepspeak

by Guy Lyon Playfair Extract from a paper by Aristide Esser, et al. (International Journal of Parapsychology, 9 (1) 53-56, 1967), describing an experiment in telepathy between identical twins: "In a physically isolated subject, we have observed physiological reactions at the precise moment at which another person, the agent, was actively stimulated. We show the...

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Closed Minds in Science

by Guy Lyon Playfair When Barry Marshall swallowed a mouthful of bacteria back in the 1990s and gave himself severe pains in the tummy, showing that gastric disorders were not due to 'stress', too much curry or whatever, but a bug called Helicobacter pylori, he had a job at first getting anybody to believe him....

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Gulfs in Science

by Guy Lyon Playfair There’s nothing like a session devoted to telepathy, near death experiences, and the distant mental influence on living systems (DMILS) at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA) to set the usual sceptics buzzing as angrily as hornets whose nest has just been trodden on. “Theories...

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Fuzzy Logic on Stamps and Telepathy

by Guy Lyon Playfair Telepathy made the headlines at the end of September 2001. A whole page of the Daily Mail, half a page of The Observer and a sizeable chunk of BBC Radio 4's "Today" programme were all devoted to it. What could have attracted so much of the media's attention to a subject...

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The Stargate Conspiracy

by Guy Lyon Playfair Startling revelations concerning the U.S. Government-sponsored Project Star Gate remote viewing programme are contained in a recent book, The Stargate Chronicles: Memoirs of a Master Spy by Joseph McMoneagle - military remote viewer No. 001 - who by his retirement from the Army in 1984 had taken part in more than...

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Skeptical “Explanations” for Psi Phenomena

by Guy Lyon Playfair One of the skeptics' favourite tricks is to come up with a purely imaginary "explanation" for an apparently paranormal phenomenon. While doing research for my book Twin Telepathy: The Psychic Connection, I kept coming across remarks like this one, from twin expert Dr. Nancy Segal as reported in Newsweek (November 23,...

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Modern Experiments in Telepathy

by Guy Lyon Playfair Samuel G. Soal (1889-1975) was one of the highest-profile researchers of his day. His book Modern Experiments in Telepathy (1954) earned him a degree from London University - only the second such honour to be awarded in Britain for a parapsychology-related thesis - and the long series of card guessing tests...

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Pathology in Organized Skepticism

by Guy Lyon Playfair L. David Leiter of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, has no problems with what he sees as ordinary or individual skepticism. Writing in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (Spring 2002) he describes this as "a useful and important human trait, the ability to recognise that any claim or theory, no matter how well...

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Nature and Telepathy

by Guy Lyon Playfair "I'd love to publish it. If it's watertight evidence I'd publish it as fast as I possibly could." This surprising statement was made in the first of two parts of the BBC World Service series "Discovery: Who Runs your World?" in which the question was "Who decides which scientific research project...

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Good Skeptics / Bad Skeptics

Part 1: Good Skeptic Ian Wilson on Nostradamusby Guy Lyon Playfair There can be few whose writings have been quoted, misquoted, debunked and even faked so often and so long after their death as those of the French physician, astrologer and prophet Michel de Nostredame (1503-1566), better known by his Latinised surname of Nostradamus. Whenever...

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Has CSICOP Lost the Thirty Years’ War?

Part 1: Birth of a Movementby Guy Lyon Playfair "I have come to believe that Paul Kurtz does not completely share my goals", including "objective inquiry prior to judgment."- Marcello Truzzi CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) [now simply CSI, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation] came into existence at...

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Neuroimaging Used in Attempts to Resolve the Psi Debate

by Guy Lyon Playfair The paper ‘Using Neuroimaging to Resolve the Psi Debate’ by Samuel T. Moulton and Stephen M. Kosslyn (Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 20 (1), 2008) must have brought tidings of great joy to sceptics. Not only do the Harvard University psychologists claim their findings to be ‘the strongest evidence yet obtained against...

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