News of the WeekSTATISTICS

ESP Paper Rekindles Discussion About Statistics

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Science  21 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6015, pp. 272-273
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6015.272

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A paper in press at a top psychology journal argues that the results of nine experiments conducted with more than 1000 college students provide statistically significant evidence of an ability to predict future events. Not surprisingly, the news has provoked outrage from pseudoscience debunkers and counteraccusations of closed-mindedness from those willing to consider the possibility of psychic powers. It has also rekindled a long-running debate about whether the statistical tools commonly used in psychology—and most other areas of science—too often lead researchers astray.