Saturday, November 01, 2008

Guerrilla Funding for the IRVA

Paul H. Smith has submitted the following appeal to drum up support for projects at the International Remote Viewing Assocation. I think he makes a great case for why the support of the general public is essential for research on remote viewing in particular and the field of parapsychology more generally.

Outside of philosophy of science circles, few people have ever heard of Imre Lakatos. Lakatos, who died in 1974 at the age of 51, was a peer of Thomas Kuhn, now famous for bringing the word “paradigm” into popular use. Lakatos’s ideas about scientific progress are subtler than Kuhn’s notion of sudden paradigm shifts, but in other ways they harmonize.

Kuhn’s revolutionary ideas exposed the role of the “Old Guard” in slowing scientific progress. The Old Guard is the gatekeeper of social and scientific orthodoxy. Its ranks are filled with scientists, academics, scholars, professors, and theorists. Defenders of the status quo, they have committed their careers to a certain way of approaching the world. They are so invested in the old way of doing things that they are obliged to allow only small, acceptable changes to the old paradigm and fight against the new.

Thomas Kuhn told us why they do it. Imre Lakatos told us how they do it.

Members of the Old Guard don’t just argue against new ideas that conflict or contradict the paradigm they zealously defend. And they don’t just ignore or reject new perspectives, new tools, or new findings that don’t square with the world view they are committed to protecting. They actively resist change by denying to any researcher who fails to win their approval the means to make progress in the field. The Old Guard owns the resources that make research possible.

What are these resources? First there are the official publications, the refereed journals, the textbook publishers. If your experiment fits inside the borders of the old paradigm, your findings stand a good chance of being published in journals or books where others can see them and build upon them. What you discover becomes part of the world’s knowledge base.

If, however, you research a phenomenon that is deemed inappropriate – that is, for example in the case of ESP or remote viewing, considered ‘pseudoscience’ it does not matter how carefully you work, nor how profound your discoveries. The Old Guard will spurn you. You will not get published, no one will notice your work, and no one will build on your findings.

But that is not the only way the Old Guard keeps the new paradigm at bay. The most powerful means to enforce orthodoxy in science is by controlling the money. Nearly all research requires some level of funding. Whether it is for specialized instruments, data processing, analysis, test tubes, meters, office materials, compensation, or travel – without funding it is difficult to do much worthwhile research. Super-colliders, quantum computing, genetic modification, stem cell research, or even grizzly bear reproduction receives billions, millions, or even scores of thousands of dollars in grants and research funds.

There was a time when ESP and other kinds of parapsychology research received not millions, but at least thousands of dollars a year. But as the skeptic movement gained strength, the funds for ESP research dried up. And the skeptical community, along with mainstream science that the skeptics have managed to co-opt, wants to keep it that way.

It is time, however, for a change. Thomas Kuhn knew that the Old Guard doesn’t last forever. And Imre Lakatos told us that old “scientific programmes” eventually give way under pressure from the new.

The International Remote Viewing Association (IRVA) wants to lead the way. To accomplish this IRVA is doing three things:

Building an online resource of information to help those interested in scientifically investigating remote viewing create good quality research projects and experiments

Activating the Gabrielle Pettingell Memorial Research Fund. You can make your tax-deductible contribution by mail or online at . We welcome any amount from $10 to $10,000 or more. You can be sure that your contributions will used only for worthy research projects.

Sponsoring its first-ever remote viewing research project

In November a group of six experienced remote viewers will gather and, assisted by four additional research personnel, will to do four sets of double-blind remote viewing targets while being monitored by an operating random event generator (see details). This experiment is being coordinated by consciousness researcher Melvin Morse, MD, IRVA’s secretary John P. Stahler, and IRVA’s president, Paul H. Smith. Expenses will run about $2,000. You can earmark your contributions for this experiment by noting ‘RV/REG experiment’ on your check or online transaction.

You may have heard of guerrilla marketing. Now we open a new era of Guerilla Funding. You have a chance to join a movement that aims to overwhelm the Old Guard. Become a part of future history by joining with us today.

Paul H. Smith
IRVA President

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