Monday, October 31, 2011 4:00 PM
"Distortions of the Past"
Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.
I had the pleasure of presenting an invited address at the last PA Convention held in Curitiba, Brazil. The address, entitled "Distortions of the Past," was part of the Outstanding Contribution Award the Parapsychological Association granted to me at the 2010 convention held in Paris, for which I thank the Association. The topic of my address was a discussion of examples of distortions of the history of parapsychology as seen in the writings of some parapsychologists.
I hope to publish the paper in the near future. In the meantime here is an abstract.
While no view of past parapsychological developments is free of problems it is worthwhile to discuss how our accounts can be distorted if only to be more aware of our working assumptions. In this address I will focus on the writings of parapsychologists, and particularly on some problems in these writings producing a distorted view of the past of the discipline. I argue that the past is distorted when we neglect the work of specific groups and individuals (such as lesser known figures, and women); when we see the past as a function of the present (neglect of unpopular ideas today, justification of research programs); and when we focus mainly on positive aspects of the study of psychic phenomena (neglect of critics and of examples of the rejection of the field). It is my hope that a consideration of these issues will assist us to expand the reach of such writings.