Harold W. Baldwin
The concepts used to describe and analyze a kind of phenomenon can have a major effect on the problems and solutions associated with that phenomenon. Issues that arise from the use of one set of concepts may not arise from the use of another set: and solutions that are possible when one set is used may be impossible or even inconceivable when another is used.
Both Kuhn1 and Toulmin2 have elaborated this theme, and Toulmin has given a good example of it: Aristotle thought that a continuously applied force was necessary to explain sustained motion. Thus, the flight of an arrow after it leaves a bow was a problem since there seemed to be no applied force sustaining its motion. Newton provided a solution to this problem by reconceptualizing the whole issue of motion, holding that it was not the sustaining but the changing of motion that needed explanation. Thus, not the flight, but the ceasing of flight, was the problem. Likewise, some of the problems and criticisms that can arise under certain conceptualizations of experimental clairvoyance can be avoided by an analysis using an alternative concept.
One of the most important of these criticisms directly confronts the most challenging aspect of experimental clairvoyance, namely, the sensory isolation of the subject from the target. Certain principles, say the critics, are fundamental to our understanding any phenomenon. If some phenomenon violating these principles is alleged to occur, then such an occurrence must be rejected and explained in more normal ways, for example, by fraud, because the principles are so much more well-founded than the
Reprinted from the Joumal of Parapsychology, volume 40 ( 1976), pp. 136-144, by permission of the author and editors.