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Normal Explanations of the Paranormal: The Demarcation Problem and Fraud in Parapsychology

Trevor J. Pinch
Social Studies of Science
Vol. 9, No. 3 (Aug., 1979), pp. 329-348
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/284755
Page Count: 20
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Normal Explanations of the Paranormal: The Demarcation Problem and Fraud in Parapsychology
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Abstract

This paper examines the problem of demarcating genuine science from 'pseudo-science'. It is shown that it is possible to turn the demarcation arguments which have been used against 'pseudo-sciences', such as parapsychology, against the fraud hypothesis - which is the principal normal counter-explanation for the parapsychological evidence. It is argued that the fraud hypothesis fails to be scientific on the grounds of replication, metaphysical bias, falsifiability and lack of theory. Since fraud is accepted and parapsychology rejected, the role of demarcation criteria in determining acceptable science is challenged. An alternative account of their role is presented. It is argued that the rejection of parapsychology rests on cultural differences which demarcation criteria serve to legitimate.

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