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Nicholas Humphrey

Nicholas Humphrey

Nicholas Humphrey, Ph.D.

Nicholas Humphrey is an evolutionary psychologist and School Professor at the London School of Economics. From 1992-1995 he held the Perrott-Warrick Research Fellowship for Psychical Research at Cambridge University. He did no psychical research, but instead wrote a book, Soul Searching: Human Nature and Supernatural Belief (1995), in which he claimed to have proved on theoretical grounds that phenomena like telepathy were impossible.

Few were impressed with his proofs. Even his fellow skeptic, Susan Blackmore, regarded his dismissal of the experimental evidence for telepathy as misleading. In a review of his book in New Scientist, she wrote: “The best known research in parapsychology today uses the ganzfeld technique, a kind of partial sensory deprivation believed to enhance ESP. Humphrey summarises it in two pages and dismisses it with one recent unpublished reanalysis which suggests a serious flaw. This is unfair given the fact that the ganzfeld technique has been around for two decades, has received enormous publicity, and has been thoroughly criticised both from within and without parapsychology – without any consensus being reached. Humphrey may well be right that something other than extrasensory perception is responsible for the results, but many people far more knowledgeable than he have failed to find out what it is.”

In 2001, in reaction to a statement by Professor Brian Josephson, a Nobel laureate in quantum physics, that quantum physics may lead to an explanation for telepathy, Humphrey said: “I think the idea that quantum physics explains the paranormal is an unnecessary idea, because there’s nothing to explain. We haven’t got any evidence.” (BBC Radio 4, “TODAY”, October 2, 2001).

 
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