The Psychologist Magazine November 2012 (The Psychologist 2012)

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View original post. Being in the media, purposefully or otherwise, can have unintended effects, many of which the media will never stop and apologize for.

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Such is the case for Neda Soltani, a professor of English literature, whose Facebook picture was downloaded and disseminated among Iranian protesters — en masse. Her death was caught on video and subsequently went viral. Shortly afterward the media published a photo of Soltani claiming it was Soltan — a mistake that Soltani has had to live with ever since.

Introduction: psychical research and the ‘new psychology’

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Neda Soltani left and Neda Agha-Soltan right. There are a couple of things at work here. The first is media and journalistic responsibility — or lack thereof. Because of the speed at which news travels across the internet, media outlets feel more and more pressure to release information as fast as possible, without taking the appropriate amount of time to verify the facts, or allow the complete story to play out before reporting on it. This is all part of the cycle to bring in a larger audience, in order to attract more advertisers and increased revenue for which the media competes with other outlets.

As Ahmadinejad is not a popular foreign leader here in the United States, the media rushed to publicize the fallout that followed. Soltani and Soltan were both used as pawns to frame the protests. Cognitively, people are conditioned and drawn to stop and witness violence or tragedy. We learn through observation. The media plays upon this to garner attention and profit repeatedly.

BBC News Magazine. Fathi, N. Death of Neda Agha-Soltan. It leaves a lot of questions as to how it may be possible that the characterizations brought to life by a man may have preserved his life in , and were a part of his final moments. In this case media appears to have become a part of the man. These cues can activate neurological networks associated with them that affect the way a subject behaviorally executes their self-concept. Discrete social identities, such as those formed based on relational roles and positions with other people and social groups, may correlate to specific neural pathways, which when cued, would lead to certain typical behavioral responses associated with them such as specific way of talking, walking, thinking, relating to oneself and others etc.

These discrete identities are normally not experienced as such, as the mind instantaneously re-creates a sense of a singular, continuous, unchanged, overarching self that encompasses them all — unless damaged. Neurologically, there is interconnectedness between these circuits, and a higher order organizational principle — the sense of a unified self — that maintains continuity, and creates enough consistency in observable behavior for others to witness an underlying singular personality that changes minimally throughout many different situations. Blanc, as discussed, easily slipped in and out of various characters all of his life, and any number of times throughout a single day over the course of more than 60 years, therefore the range of possible cognitive cues for his various discrete personalities would have been exceptional.

Which leads to the possibility that when his singular self could no longer respond due to physical stress or trauma, his characterizations still could. She is the one woman who has convinced some world-famous men. I never was afraid of ghosts; let them come! Always the same silly, freakish, senseless pranks repeated on thousands of nights before small groups of more or less superstitious people under conditions of her own arrangement, conditions entirely different from ordinary life, with poor illumination and with complete freedom to do just what she pleases.

Of course, there will be some who in reply will fall back on their old outcry that all this is dogmatism and that instead of mere theories of explanations they want actual proof. I am afraid I must be still clearer there. I must report what happened at the last meeting which I attended. But instead, there suddenly came a wild, yelling scream. What happened? Neither the medium nor Mr. Carrington had the slightest idea that a man was lying flat on the floor and had succeeded in slipping noiselessly like a snail below the curtain into the cabinet.

I had told him that I expected wires stretched out from her body and he looked out for them. What a surprise when he saw that she had simply freed her foot from her shoe and with an athletic backward movement of the leg was reaching out and fishing with her toes for the guitar and the table in the cabinet! At the same time, however, he proposed that Eusapia might not be held fully responsible for her cheating. It is a buffoon article, as if written by a bagman. The worst of it is that I can imagine no process by which he could possibly be made ashamed of it.

M——g insinuates that this was done in consequence of his advice, but in point of fact he knew nothing about it till he was told after the sitting. Skrupskelis and Berkeley, — XII, There is no limit to his genius for self-advertisement and superficiality. Mendacity too! The gentleman who seized her foot was a stranger to M——g, and none of the company knew what had happened till after the sitting was over, when he informed M——g and one or two others. In point of fact he was one of the guests whose payment made it possible for Carrington to invite M——g gratis.

If your opinions have since changed, this must be due to some cause or causes which I think you should state.

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According to the minutes, at The philosopher and psychical researcher James Hyslop exemplified disagreements in the psychical research community over the scientific merit of physical mediumship in general and Palladino in particular when he wrote:. The Palladino case, as it has been managed, is not calculated to influence intelligent people who have no time to spend years and fortunes on it. It only excites dispute and many of the facts asserted of it are so closely related to fraud that even the apology of hysteria has little effect.

Hyslop, : —3 Newspaper reports had claimed that the girl was able to read minds and perceive remote or hidden objects. Moreover, far from marking a discrete or closed historical chapter in sociological studies of the rejection of modern parapsychology the quantitative study of alleged extra-sensory perception and psychokinesis by psychologists and mainstream scientists have shown that these strategies continue to be employed see, for example, Collins and Pinch, ; Hess, ; McClenon, , and Pinch and Collins, In fact, prior to authors like Ellenberger and Taylor, professional historians of psychology — the majority of who were and still are trained psychologists — were simply not interested in these issues.

While pres James scholarship is perhaps the most conspicuous example of what might be called passive or boundary-work pace the historiography of psychology, the visible interest and involvement of other renowned psychologists in the study of psychic phenomena following James William McDougall, Alfred von Winterstein, J. Freud, S. Ferenczy, N. Fodor, J. Ehrenwald, J.

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Eisenbud, E. Servadio has also largely failed to be appropriately reflected by historians. This also suggest that the unloved sibling of modern psychology has been dissociated from its history mainly by editorial fiat. Thus, revised histories of psychical research and its relationship to psychology with a critical thrust not limited to that which has been viewed with suspicion anyway, offer both a challenge and a promise to historians, the discussion of which the present article hopes to stimulate. I am grateful to Carlos Alvarado, Sonu Shamdasani, Hasok Chang, Liz Valentine and the anonymous reviewers for thoughtful feedback on the original manuscript.

While James was certainly the most distinguished early US psychologist advocating psychical research, perhaps the most enthusiastic was Harlow Gale of the psychological laboratory at the University of Minnesota Moore, : —6. Compare, for example, the opposing views regarding alleged psychic phenomena in two leading psychical researchers, Charles Richet and Frederic Myers. Richet, viewing psychic phenomena as challenging scientific anomalies, strictly adhered to scientific materialism and held that supernormal phenomena would eventually become comprehensible in terms of a physiological theory Wolf, The research of Myers, on the other hand, was driven by a personal need to find empirical evidence for the spiritual nature of mind and its survival of death, though this did not lead Richet, James, Flournoy and other eminent contemporaries of Myers to dismiss his research as intrinsically flawed Hamilton, For a concise history of the Palladino controversy, see Alvarado The popular and scholarly literature often referred to Palladino using her forename only.

See, for example, the typology of mediumistic fraud in Eusapia by the psychologist and philosopher Julian Ochorowicz More than three decades later, Eugen Bleuler defended the work of Albert von Schrenck-Notzing in physical mediumship against accusations to cover fraud Bleuler, Bleuler stressed the importance of first-hand experience in psychopathology in order to understand and experimentally control for mediumistic trickery, which he and others considered part and parcel of genuine mediumship. However, James occasionally investigated other physical mediums. See, for example, James b.

We have not yet covered expenses! Joseph Jastrow also conducted a sitting with Palladino and reported her trickery in popular magazines a , b. For details and a criticism of the Jastrow sitting, see Carrington : —7. For biographical accounts, see, for instance, Hale and Spillmann and Spillmann James to Carrington, 15 June , published in Carrington : 41—2.

According to Eric J. Dingwall : , the foot-grabber was Edgar T. He took advantage of the opportunity to secure the failure of the experiment. For it is decidedly humiliating to have escaped the wiles of the professional mediums only to fall a victim to the excessive zeal of a professorial psychologist, whose good faith one had taken for granted! Schiller, : ; original emphases.

This is of course not to say that psychical research and modern parapsychology stand out as the only disciplines that have received unfair treatment see, for example, Mauskopf, ; Wallis, For example, while university-based departments of parapsychology are globally on the decline, the Parapsychological Association an umbrella organization of parapsychological researchers is still a member of the AAAS.

An obvious exception has been the Jung scholarship see, for example, Shamdasani, This may well be the case; however, to my knowledge no historian of psychology has ever provided a summary of these contributions or delivered a concise positive claim to this effect in print , or revealed and problematized in detail methods commonly employed to marginalize certain kinds of epistemic deviance.

These lacunae are at least compatible with — if not in support of — my broader thesis of historiography as passive boundary-work. Both the historical and sociological literature which I cite in support of my claims to the contrary clearly shows otherwise. Moreover, and as mentioned in the Introduction, to make a stronger case this article had originally intended to include and discuss the historical relevance of a similar episode, G. Finally, regarding ongoing boundary-work by psychologists, complaints very similar to those which James, Schiller, Flournoy, Sidgwick, W.

The relevant sociology of science literature from the late s, which I partially cite, demonstrates a clear continuity of ethically problematic boundary-work, and more recent works suggest that very little has changed in the last few decades see, for example, Carter, , ; McLuhan, Even though these accusations of intellectual dishonesty continue to be serious, appear well-substantiated and have in essence remained unanswered by the targets of criticism, their reception is limited to circles outside the scientific and psychological establishment, and they continuously fail to be acknowledged or discussed in the mainstream science and psychology literature.

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