Two primary issues are addressed:
The peculiar data of the laboratory.
Psi exists. But laboratory results severely challenge
the rest of science. The problematical findings include: independence
of task complexity, retroactive PK, experimenter effects, and the source
of psi problem. Psi’s negative definition gives clues to its nature.
The discipline’s marginality and failure to flourish.
Psi research has not been effectively integrated
into academe. Despite enormous popular interest, there are no departments
of parapsychology in colleges or universities. This is not due to
a failure of the researchers, nor to the activities of the debunkers, rather,
it is a consequence of the phenomena. A similar anti-structural and
anti-institutional pattern is observed wherever the phenomena are engaged
The Trickster and the Paranormal
parapsychology with theories from anthropology and literary criticism.
William Braud’s model of lability and inertia is
integrated with Victor Turner's concept of anti-structure.
The replication problem is considered in light of
anthropological notions of “participation” and “reflexivity.” These
provide new views of the repeatability issue.
The “enchanted boundary” of Walter Franklin Prince
is strikingly similar to the “limen” of Arnold van Gennep in his The
Rites of Passage (1909). The combination of perspectives helps
explain academe’s hostility to the field.
Precognition and retroactive PK defy the notions
of cause and effect. Structuralism is explicitly acausal, and it
has natural parallels with significant aspects of psi.
The anthropological theories cited above are directly
tied to analyses of the trickster figure. Of course, the problem
of deception in parapsychology is addressed.