Richard Broughton: "The Mainstream Catches Up"



In the SPR's Paranormal Review, its president, Richard Broughton draws attention to recent concern about the "decline effect" in mainstream science, in which initially positive results are followed by failures to replicate the initial observations, or else much weaker results. He discusses the role of questionable research practices, poor statistical practices and the lack of incentive to replicate previous work, and describes efforts to remedy these problems. He then says that parapsychology has been "marching to these tunes for decades".

What he doesn't do, as far as I can see, is suggest that the decline effect may reflect any genuine underlying phenomenon caused by an initial "experimenter effect". I find this a bit surprising, as it seems a natural suggestion for a parapsychologist to make. If there is an experimenter effect, shouldn't we expect to see it in mainstream science as well as psi research?