Objective Research Methods
A FIELD of science should properly be judged on the basis of its methods of investigation. In parapsychology, however, as in any branch of psychology where there are subjective or mental factors and conditions to be dealt with, a consideration of the objective methods alone is not enough. As a matter of fact, there is even a question as to whether they come first in importance. But for the purpose of this book it will be advantageous to present the objective methods first and deal with the important consideration of psychological methods and conditions of experimentation later (Chapter 7). The reasoning is that an appreciation of the sound status of the facts of parapsychology should come first, and for that the objective methods are clearly of prior importance. After this first step is taken, then the shift of interest to other problems makes the psychological conditions the more important in their turn.
By objective methods we do not mean only the specific testing techniques by means of which the investigations are made. The standardized test procedures generally used in the study of psi phenomena are, of course, an essential part of the methods; the main types of procedure are described in Chapter 8. Likewise, the mathematical techniques that play an important part in measuring the degree to which the experimental results exceed the level expected from pure chance are an essential part of the objective methods; they are given in Chapter 9. These descriptions of the more specialized techniques, while they are essential to research and clinical use, are not necessary here for an appreciation of the general way in which psi has been investigated.