Paranormal Phenomena: Exam Questions -- 1 Paranormal Phenomena 1. Pseudoscience: What is Pseudoscience? What are the differences between science and pseudoscience? What are examples of pseudosciences? 2. Harm: How and in what ways might false beliefs in the paranormal be harmful? 3. Harm of Facilitated Communication: What harm could be done by believing in facilitated communication if it doesn’t work? 4. Facilitated Communication: In the video about facilitated communication (“Prisoners of Silence”), tests of facilitated communication were conducted by presenting pictures to the autistic child under two conditions: (1) presenting the same picture to the child and the facilitator and (2) presenting a different picture to the child and the facilitator. The results show that the children cannot give the correct answer under condition (2). A. Control Condition: What is the value of the first condition? That is, what is the point of presenting the same picture to the child and the facilitator? Isn’t it enough to present different pictures to the child and the facilitator and show that the child gives the wrong answer? B. Design Weaknesses: What are the weaknesses of this design? How might the results be equivocal? How might someone legitimately challenge the validity of the results? C. Bicklen’s Criticisms: Douglas Bicklen (one of the main proponents of facilitative communication) criticizes the results of this study. He argues that the testing conditions are confrontational and the children are unlikely to be able to give the correct answers under such conditions. Bicklen also argues that autistic children often have word findings problems which explains why they could not perform well in the study. How do the results of the design show that Bicklen’s criticisms are unfounded? D. Random Assignment of Pictures: Why was it useful to have the pictures that were presented assigned to each of the two study conditions at random? E. Replication: The same or similar studies were performed several times by several different researchers. What was the value of such replications? 5. Broughton distinguishes among three types of studies of the paranormal: case studies, field studies, and the experimental method. Why does Broughton favor the experimental method? What makes the experimental method study better than other methods? And what makes it worse? More generally, what makes some evidence better and worse than other evidence? What are the characteristics of good evidence?
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