|Charles Henry Honorton|
|Born||February 5, 1946
Deer River, Minnesota
|Died||November 4, 1992|
Charles Henry Honorton (February 5, 1946 - November 4, 1992) was an American parapsychologist and was one of the leaders of a collegial group of researchers who were determined to apply established scientific research methods to the examination of what they called "anomalous information transfer" (extrasensory perception) and other phenomena associated with the "mind/body problem"--the idea that mind might, at least in some respects, have a physical existence independent of the body.
Over several decades, Honorton conducted many experiments, the most famous and significant of which involved the use of the Ganzfeld experiment technique for creating a state of sensory deprivation. His hypothesis was that the information "channel," or transfer mechanism, in ESP was "weak" and easily diluted or drowned out by normal sensory input.
A review published by Daryl Bem and Honorton, "Does Psi Exist? Replicable Evidence for an Anomalous Process of Information Transfer" provides a thorough discussion of the Ganzfeld research, criticisms, refinements and implications. Psychological Bulletin 1994, Vol. 115. No. 1, 4-18. The review was criticized by the scientific community as it was discovered to contain errors.
Honorton rejected the term parapsychology, instead preferring to approach extra-sensory perception as one would any other area of psychophysics, "for the first time in history, we have begun to forge an empirical approach to one of the most profound and ancient of mysteries, the nature of mind and its relationship to the physical world."
Honorton was a research fellow at the Institute for Parapsychology Durham North Carolina from 1966–67, a research associate, then senior research associate, then Director of Research Division of Parapsychology and Psychophysics at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York from. 1967-79. After that he became the Director Psychophysical Research Laboratories in the Forrestal Research Center located in Princeton, New Jersey from 1979-89 and from there he moved on to become a researcher at Edinburgh University from 1991 until his death.
He died in on November 4, 1992 of a heart attack.
Some statisticians argued that the meta-analysis carried out by Honorton that supported an underlying pattern behind parasychological studies was ill-conceived and ignored basic rules of mathematics. Bem and Honorton (1994) published a review of studies which concluded psi was operating in the ganzfeld but it was discovered their review contained serious errors.
According to Terence Hines:
There was a serious problem with the Bem and Honorton (1994) review. In 1999 Milton and Wiseman published a critique of that review and an analysis of additional new ganzfeld studies. In their review Bem and Honorton had counted the results of some studies as being statistically significant when they actually were not significant. This error led Bem and Honorton to conclude that the studies they reviewed had shown, overall, that ESP was operating in the ganzfeld situation. Milton and Wiseman then reviewed thirty ganzfeld studies that had been designed to meen the rigorous methodological standards set forth in Hyman and Honorton (1986); these studies showed no effect greater than chance.
Between 1983-1989 Honorton carried out a series of autoganzfeld experiments at his Psychophysical Research Laboratories (PRL). Hyman suspected that a visual cue had occurred in the experiments and came to the conclusion the autoganzfeld experiments were flawed because they did not rule out the possibility of sensory leakage.
- Emily Williams Cook (November 19, 1992). "Obituary: Charles Honorton". The Independent.
- Milton, Wiseman; Wiseman, R (1999). "Does Psi Exist? Lack of Replication of an Anomalous Process of Information Transfer". Psychological Bulletin 125 (4): 387–391. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.125.4.387. PMID 10414223.
- Scott O. Lilienfeld (November–December 1999). "New Analyses Raise Doubts About Replicability of ESP Findings". Skeptical Inquirer.
- John Palmer (March 8, 1987). "Why Is Science Spooked by 'psi'?". The Washington Post.
- Susan Watts (February 15, 1993). "The American Association for the Advancement of Science: Magician presents evidence of ESP". The Independent.
- John Palmer (March 8, 1987). "Pink Noise and Dice". The Washington Post.
- Terence Hines. (2003). "Pseudoscience and the Paranormal". Prometheus Books. p. 138.
- Ray Hyman. "Evaluating Parapsychological Claims" in Robert J. Sternberg, Henry L. Roediger, Diane F. Halpern. (2007). "Critical Thinking in Psychology". Cambridge University Press. pp. 216-231.