J. B. Rhine
The trouble with Price's experiment is that it is based on an unwarranted assumption about ESP. He says in effect that if ESP really operated in the researches reported, it ought to register its effects dependably in his proposed test. He assumes that such a result would have to follow. Therefore failure would be fatal to the hypothesis of ESP, while success would (to him at least) acceptably prove the case.
Unfortunately, ESP is not like that. No parapsychologist has ever claimed that the capacity could be made to function on demand as Price assumes. ESP is still an elusive, uncertain capacity, one that may give high scores one day and chance scores the next; it may persist in consistently missing its target or even hitting the neighboring one. The elusiveness is attributable to the fact that the ability, although voluntary, operates very largely on an unconscious level. 1
The same mistake was made by Price in his earlier discussion of the practical application of ESP; he overlooked the fact that ESP is not a push-button effect to be turned off and on at will, as a chemistry test might be. In fact, one could easily believe science fiction has been one source of Price's conception of ESP. He has fancied a kind of repeatability and applicability that as yet simply does not exist. It is premature to expect them in such a difficult field.
Reprinted from Science 123 ( 1956) No. 3184, p. 19, by permission of the author and editor.
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Publication information: Book title: Philosophy and Parapsychology. Contributors: Jan Ludwig - Editor. Publisher: Prometheus Books. Place of publication: Buffalo, NY. Publication year: 1978. Page number: 202.
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