Sunday, October 13, 2013

#749: Arthur Hastings

Arthur Hastings might be a somewhat obscure figure, but he makes up for that in level of woo. Hastings does “psychomanteum research” and “transpersonal psychology”. The psychomanteum people are people who have (not necessarily sexual) intercourse with apparitions (it’s a form of channeling), which is said by people whose judgment you should reluctant to trust to be “a highly effective approach to healing bereavement.”

Hastings is a “psychology professor” at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology (hardly an accredited institution) in Palo Alto. “But we do research”, says Hastings. According to their website Hastings and his research team “took 27 persons through a three hour process with the intention of contacting a friend or loved one who had died. After the experience almost all the individuals had significantly less grief, guilt, sadness, loss, and need to communicate compared to their previous feelings. Half of the participants said they had felt the presence of the person they sought,” which of course violates virtually every methodological constraint on good research imaginable (controls? Selection bias? Blinding?). The results of their pseudoscience were aptly published in the pseudojournal Omega, a professional journal on death and dying, and is groundbreaking insofar as it, according to Hastings and his research team, has large implication for the question of life after death. Duh. They also have testimonials.

You can see Hastings talk about channeling, Ouija boards, and Ramtha here.

Diagnosis: Oh well, here’s another one. Does not have the faintest clue about how to distinguish reality from imagination, and how science helps you do that; instead, Hastings laments the lack of faith in scientists. Probably of limited influence, given that people who are sufficiently dimwitted to take his research seriously are unlikely to care much about scientific research anyways.

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