Victor
A LAWYER ON THE SKEPTICS
by Victor Zammit
Retired Lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales,
and the High Court of Australia
.


DEBUNKER RAY HYMAN DEFAMES PSI INVESTIGATOR PROF. GARY SCHWARTZ

What follows is a general assessment of the legal implications of Prof. Ray Hyman's attack on Prof Swhartz' (pictured left) afterlife experiments.

I have had many interested parties asking me to look into professional debunker Prof. Ray Hyman's fundamental anti-psychic partiality. This is because there have to be valid reasons for Hyman's continued hostility and 'negativity' towards psychic matters when psychic phenomena are being proved in so many parts of the world.

Prof Ray Hyman's overall treatment of Prof Gary Schwartz' The Afterlife Experiments is regarded by psi investigators as most unfair, highly willfully negative, full of omissions, full of misrepresentations and lies.

In any legal context, grossly unfair and unreasonable conduct such as willful misrepresentation, malice, omission of critical information and 'lying' in an imputed endeavor to do harm to Professor Gary Schwartz' reputation is actionable per se (see below).

Further, a history of any wilful omissions and misrepresentations to ridicule, denigrate and belittle would contribute towards the malice element.

Preliminary issue: Was Prof Ray Hyman deeply negatively prejudiced against psi before reviewing Prof Schwartz' afterlife research? Initially, before anything is stated, if the answer is in the affirmative it would indicate prima facie malice.

This is critically important to all of us because as Professor Charles Tart, a highly respected psi empiricist stated:

"Despite more than a hundred years of the highest quality scientific research which, to any genuinely rational mind, demonstrates the existence of several kinds of paranormal phenomena (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis being the major ones), parapsychology research remains marginalized, rejected and actively persecuted. As a psychologist that tells me there are powerful, irrational forces involved" (Prof Charles Tart reviewing George P. Hansen's incisive book The Trickster and the Paranormal)

Hyman has consistently NOT found anything positive in psi in the last fifty years or so while a number of prominent psychic researchers, physicists and other scientists with the highest credibility and sensitivity to psi have - people like Nobel Prize winner Dr Brian Josephson, Dr Dean Radin, Prof Gary Schwartz, Dr Jessica Utts, Dr H E Puthoff, Dr Charles Tart, Prof Ian Stevenson and so many, many others.

Considering this, it becomes vitally important to ask the key relevant question: notwithstanding Hyman's qualifications, are there powerful irrational forces which cause him to lose all technical 'competence' to conduct psychic experiments and evaluate psychic material with true empirical equanimity?

Read the following passage very carefully:

"Belief in paranormal phenomena is still growing, and the dangers to our society are real … in these days of government budget-cutting the Defense Department may be spending millions of tax dollars on developing 'psychic arms' … Please help us in this battle against the irrational. Your contribution, in any amount, will help us grow and be better able to combat the flood of belief in the paranormal."

Ray Hyman put his name to that willful extremely negatively prejudicial statement in 1985 (Hansen 1991:198). Yet he has the audacity, the effrontery and cynicism to try to assess serious psychic research by some of the most highly credible scientists in the United States.

Hyman indirectly threatens psi empiricists with 'ridicule' and 'risking their reputation' is a kind of indirect bullying and malice that would not be acceptable by scientists. The latter part of the statement '… good thing for the growth of science …' does not reduce his threat. In 1981 he wrote:

"I have no quarrel with any scientist who wants to investigate the claims of an alleged psychic. Indeed, the willingness of such men to risk their reputation and to face ridicule is probably a good thing for the growth of science in the long run."

Further, Hyman as chair of a parapsychology subcommittee for a National Research Council committee allowed a report stating among other things that there was "no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena" (Druckman & Swets, 1988 p. 22).

In doing so Hyman apparently misrepresented and misled his superiors by willfully and knowingly omitting the conclusions of the NRC commissioned work by Robert Rosenthal which were fundamentally inconsistent with and diametrically contradicted Hyman's statement (Hansen 1991:198).

These are just a couple of examples of extremely serious matters showing Hyman to be seriously irretrievably one sided and dedicated to an anti-paranormal crusade. Asking him to evaluate material on paranormal matters is not dissimilar to asking the head of the Ku Klux Clan to give an impartial dissertation on the potential and merits of the negro.

Hyman, a proven negatively minded skeptic, should NEVER try to asses any psi research. It is most unfair, unreasonable and inequitable abuse of academic position for Hyman to continue to give the impression he can perceive psi with equanimity! An adjudicator with integrity is one who has a proven track record of strict objectivity in psi assessment. Hyman does NOT have this.

Why then should Hyman have ANY credibility when assessing psi?

Hyman has every right to be skeptical. His beliefs are his own. He can stay with CSICOP in any capacity till he dies. But it would be cheating, lying and fraudulent conduct on his part to try to project himself as having the technical competence (legal sense) to assess psi impartially. I state that the cumulative effect of decades of public anti-psychic crusading would continue to motivate Hyman to be anti-psychic. Otherwise:

1. he could become the object of 'ridicule' in the United States and the world if after decades of negative results he suddenly finds psi proved,

2. it would impute that he was WRONG all the time in psi matters,

3. it would impute that he did not conduct his previous experiments with due objectivity and due diligence,

4. it would impute he was motivated by covert incentives to find against psi,

5. it would possibly impute technically 'fraudulent conduct' to find against psi,

6. it could even impute willful 'lies' and 'willful misrepresentation,'

7. he would lose any status he has in the eyes of his contemporaries,

8. he would automatically lose his 'authority' on skeptical assessment,

9. he would lose all credibility,

10. he would lose any funding,

11. he would become a non-entity,

12. he would be dumped by the materialists and hard core skeptics,

13. he would inexorably be ostracized into obscurity.

Inevitably, for Hyman (or anyone) this would be a huge price to pay. Quite objectively there are powerful incentives for Hyman to consciously or unconsciously continue to be highly negative, to be highly critical, highly captious about successful psi reports; he could even be expected to deepen his anti-psychic bias. In fact, he is emotionally and intellectually programmed not to perceive psi with equanimity - and to continue to remain negatively prejudicial against positive psi results.

What would be the predictable response of a hard core skeptic like Hyman who:

  • spent his whole lifetime finding negative results,
  • attained professional recognition and 'status' for his negativity,
  • was massively reinforced for his negativity,
  • is occasionally sought by the media for his criticisms,
  • has used his position at university to promote skepticism and denigrate psi,
  • is on record for articulating anti-psychic sentiments nationally,
  • was/is on CSICOP executive actively disseminating anti-psi propaganda

if you tell him: "You are absolutely WRONG in your beliefs; you are WRONG in promoting skepticism; you are WRONG in being anti-psychic; now there is ubiquitous unrebuttable objective scientific evidence showing that psi is valid ?"

There would be extreme denial, immediate hostility and a tendency to ridicule the opposite view. There would be a physical response by way of heightened anxiety - (this could be shown by way of EEG); there would be intense rationalization of the held beliefs. Hyman would argue and over-rationalize his own entrenched skeptical beliefs that he feels comfortable with.

Psychologists call this process 'rationalization to avoid cognitive dissonance.' This means there will be a lot of justification for the held beliefs against the inconsistent information - even if the 'inconsistent' information is scientific!

Further, Neurolinguistic Programing tells us that whenever a person such as Hyman is confronted with information which is directly opposite to his/her own beliefs, critical 'deletions' occur - the mind starts to filter out information - leaving out and information which could be biologically and emotionally destabilizing.

All these negative processes can be seen very clearly in the way Hyman tried to ridicule Prof Gary Schwartz' scientific study of mediumship (Hyman 2003).

Some legalities

Prof Gary Schwartz' comments (on Hyman's attempt to rebut the mediumship experiments) show that Hyman LIED and MISREPRESENTED Schwartz's work and made critical omissions in the endeavor to reject and make nugatory Schwartz' qualitative research. Read for yourself the numerous times Prof Schwartz corrected Hyman's misrepresentations and lies- see
http://www.enformy.com/Gary-reHymanReview.htm

From the legal perspective after reading Ray Hyman's public comments on Gary Schwartz' afterlife research Hyman has unfairly violated the good name, character and reputation of Gary Schwartz and the empiricists who were involved with the afterlife experiments.

This is because, according to Prof Gary Schwartz, Hyman willfully lied, willfully misrepresented Schwartz' research, knowingly made many misrepresentations about Schwartz' research that would amount to the imputation that Schwartz is not competent to conduct empirical research into a psi phenomenon.

Hyman says specifically "Probably no other extended program in psychical research deviates so much from accepted norms of scientific methodology as does this one".

This statement alone is highly defamatory - simply because of the obvious harm it has done and will do to Prof Gary Schwartz AND because no impartial experts from around the world would agree with such a groundless generalization in context of historical psi experiments done.

Hyman's same words inexorably exhibit the legal ingredient of malice.

Further, the facts that Hyman does not have a track record as an empiricist, is not widely published academically and is an armchair critic with years of executive membership of negatively entrenched CSICOP, coming across as anti-psi crusader and thus professionally restricted- should alert publishers to their potential absolute legal liability.

Hyman exercises a carefully crafted technique of 'verbal terrorism'- of repetitive hit and run ridicule, distortion and misrepresentation which is couched in pseudo technical language to bamboozle and fatigue the non-initiated. The damage is done by his tone notwithstanding anything that Schwartz might subsequently write in reply. Hyman also comes across as a zealot on a crusade. He himself writes about using "emotional charges and sensationalistic challenges (to) garner quick publicity" in order to "persuade the media" (Hyman 1987). This is clearly 'verbal terrorism.' Some of the very serious actionable imputations of Hyman's unfair criticisms include - list not exhaustive- that Prof Gary Schwartz:

  • is not competent as a psi empiricist,
  • is to be ridiculed for his psi research,
  • is a person to keep away from,
  • does not deserve funding,
  • is wasting resources on researching psi,
  • had to lie to obtain positive results,
  • had to 'positively' manipulate his research,
  • lacks depth of understanding in psi research.

I urge the reader to read Schwartz' rebuttal. Schwartz comes across as having been most unfairly and inequitably treated by Hyman's continuous illegitimate and illegal negativity. Some of the issues of Hyman's endeavour to belittle, denigrate, ridicule and dismiss Schwartz's research are, very briefly:

  • Unscientific' statement to ridicule; Hyman and six other experienced professional mentalist magicians and cold readers admitted that they could not apply their mentalist tricks under the strict experimental conditions [no knowledge of the sitter's identity, and no verbal or non-verbal visual or auditory cues/feedback]. Yet Hyman stated that if he had a year or two he MIGHT be able to figure out a way to fake what the mediums were doing under experimental conditions (Schwartz 2003 p.4).
  • Hyman makes sloppy and stupid errors in basic information about Schwartz' background - indicative of the overall treatment of his review of Schwartz' research. (Schwartz 2003 p5)
  • In spite of not being able to account for the data or to duplicate it using cold reading or fraudulent methods, Hyman uses a tone of extreme sarcasm and ridicule toward the very idea of physical survival, omitting to inform readers unfamiliar with the field that that idea was shared after extensive investigation by some of the most brilliant scientists who ever walked this earth:
    " even more extraordinary- that medium's (sic) can actually communicate with the dead. He is badly mistaken" (Schwartz 2003 p.5) and "Even more eye-opening is Schwartz's apparent endorsement of the mediums' claims that they are actually communicating with the dead (Schwartz 2003 p.6)".

Hyman is deliberately very harmful in his imputations when he states that the experiments with John Edward and George Anderson … attracted considerable attention "because of Schwartz's credentials and position."

Hyman claims Schwartz' book presents evidence from 'a series of five reports'. Schwartz says that is a lie and a gross oversimplification of the extent of the work.

According to Schwartz, Hyman is willfully LYING (making 'an egregious error of fact') when Hyman states that Schwartz 'does admit that his experiments were not ideal …only the very last in his sequence of studies used a truly double-blind format." Schwartz claims that Hyman is ignoring the fact that a number of the original studies were conducted double-blind (Schwartz 2003 p8)

Hyman has a large heading "Could it be cold reading?" after which he makes much of the claim that he has "devoted more than half a century to the study of psychic cold readings". He tries to belittle and ridicule by false analogy on the basis of his supposed personal unverified and unsubstantiated subjective experiences- pushing subjectivity to its extreme to try to score a few cheap points. He then goes on to make the outrageously untrue claim that "we (the panel of seven magicians) all agreed that what we saw Northrup and Edward doing was no different from what we would expect from any cold reader" completely omitting the crucial point that all of the panel members agreed that they could not apply cold reading techniques under the strict experimental conditions. (Schwartz 2003 p8-11)

To support his claim Hyman cites Wiseman and O'Keefe - two of Britain's most negative and notorious anti-psi crusader psychologists (Schwartz 2003 p13).

Space does not permit me to go into the all details methodically here. I have reached only up to page thirteen of Schwartz' rebuttal which goes to 50 pages! On virtually every page Schwartz highlights problems to be dealt with. Echoing Hyman "I would have to make this review almost as long as Schwartz' book" to explain adequately each defamatory implication in Hyman's writing.

Read other scathing reports against Hyman by leading academics and other credible empiricists and psi writers accusing him of willful omissions to mislead, of lying, of misrepresentations etc. See especially George P Hansen's incisive 1991 article: The Elusive Agenda: Dissuading as Debunking in Ray Hyman's The Elusive Quarry and Dr Don Watson's letter to the Skeptical Enquirer December 2002.

The objective observer will fully understand Hyman, a skeptical supremo, being so aggressive against Schwartz' research. Is it any wonder when Hyman was on record for many years BEFORE he read Schwartz' report for pre-judging the paranormal as 'irrational?' Hyman would be thrown out of a court of law if he tried to represent himself as an 'impartial authority on psi!'

We are all informed that Hyman was a stage magician. This means that Hyman has skills in deception, skills in the 'verbal sleight of hand,' in making true look untrue, the real unreal. A magician is trained to fool the people all the time. Hyman as a magician would be a professional 'trickster' and something we all should keep in mind when he tries to assess legitimate professional scientific work which is fundamentally inconsistent with his own cherished deeply entrenched beliefs.

His whole approach is verbal slight of hand. He has previously admitted that he has been unsuccessful in explaining away the results of parapsychology in spite of devoting a whole career to the attempt. So instead he does a 'double shuffle' and tries to "justify withholding any attention to the claims for the paranormal on the part of orthodox science" (Hyman 1989: p.206) on the basis that he has given parapsychology "a fair and unbiased appraisal" (Hyman 1989: p.141).

Another example of 'verbal sleight of hand' is when Hyman refers to psychic researchers as 'believers.' This is a dirty trick and Hyman knows it. There is a definitive distinction between a 'believer' - someone who accepts personal beliefs blindly - and investigators like Richard Hodgson, Professor William James and Professor Hyslop who, although initially were some of the world's toughest skeptics had the courage to yield to overwhelming objective, scientific evidence.

Negative prejudicial beliefs and negative partiality may be conscious or unconscious (the legal implication would be irrelevant) - as Hyman himself stated, "I do not have control over my beliefs." This is a powerful statement which explains his entrenched negativity and his gross misrepresentations and omissions which Schwartz so effectively countered in his rebuttal. Deeply entrenched beliefs - be they secular or religious- bring out fanaticism.

Hyman's beliefs are not in dispute- they are clearly materialistic and anti-psychic. There is nothing empirical in 'closed minded skepticism' - and recent closed-minded skepticism has become a personal belief- a fringe secular religion supported by less than two per cent of the population. It is way out of step with current science.

Deeply entrenched cherished negative personal beliefs such as Hyman's skepticism directly or indirectly skew objectivity and these beliefs are powerfully hard to shift. Beliefs are not abstract. They are neurologically hardwired into the body; consistent with the 'homeostatic principle' for most people any attempt to destabilize them will precipitate fear and aggression to keep the body in a quiescent state.

Accordingly, when Hyman reads Prof Schwartz' empirical verification and validation of mediumship his heartbeat would accelerate, his nerves become extremely sensitive and over-reactive and his blood pressure would be raised. To protect his self-esteem then he could respond aggressively by denigrating directly or indirectly the inconsistent stimulus. Hyman is trapped in the 'comfort zone trap' - the information which he feels comfortable with.

However all of Hyman's bluster and obfuscations do not obscure the fact that empirical proof of the existence of psychic phenomena has been found consistently for over a hundred years. And where there is an inconsistency between empirical results and personal, cherished secular/skeptical/religious belief, positive empirical results including empirical psychic results inevitably prevails and will ALWAYS prevail.

Ray Hyman's record in objective psychic history is very sad indeed. His negativity is very likely to be historically remembered as having played a critical part in delaying and retarding psi research - thus allowing other countries to make significant psychic progress especially in military remote viewing - something the Chinese government takes seriously by selecting potential psychics from junior school and continuing to finance psi for military and espionage purposes ( Dong and Raffill 1997). The view of a number of informed observers is that history will judge Ray Hyman's closed minded skeptic crusade for half a century as having been fundamentally deleterious to the United States national security.

My advice to bona fides psychics and researchers is keep away from any ALL closed minded skeptics for any assessment. They ARE NOT 'technically competent' to give an impartial assessment of the work. Their deeply entrenched anti-psi prejudice will not let them be fair, reasonable, equitable and balanced.

Funding psi research by closed minded skeptics, those with a history of negativity and others who underneath the façade of empiricism have publicly stated a priori negative conclusions about psi, is a huge waste of resources. It is like pouring melted gold down the drain.

Victor Zammit, A LAWYER PRESESNTS THE CASE FOR THE AFTERLIFE - the irrefutable objective evidence www.victorzammit.com

References
Dong. Paul and Raffill, Thomas E (1997) China's Super Psychics Marlow and Company New York
Druckman, D., & Swets, J. A. (Eds.). (1988). Enhancing Human Performance: Issues, Theories, Techniques. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Hansen, George P. (1991). "The Elusive Agenda: Dissuading as Debunking in
Ray Hyman's The Elusive Quarry" in The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research Volume 85, April 1991, pp. 193-203. [Online] http://www.tricksterbook.com/ArticlesOnline/HymanReview.htm
Hyman, Ray (2003) "How Not to Test Mediums" in the Skeptical Inquirer Jan-Feb
Hyman, Ray (1989). The Elusive Quarry: A Scientific Appraisal of Psychical Research. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.
Hyman, Ray (1987) "Proper Criticism" reprinted in Skeptical Inquirer, July-August 2001.
Schwartz, Gary (2002) The Afterlife Experiments Pocket Books New York.
Schwatz, Gary (2003) How Not To Review Mediumship Research: Understanding the Ultimate Reviewer's Mistake [Online] http://www.enformy.com/Gary-reHymanReview.htm
Tart, Charles, Review comments on George P. Hansen's The Trickster and the Paranormal in The Professor's Bookshelf Recommended Reading by Charles T. Tart [Online] http://www.paradigm-sys.com/display/ctt_recread2.cfm?CATEGORY=Para
Watson, Don (2002) Letter to the Editor of the Skeptical Enquirer- December [Online] http://www.enformy.com/SI-lettertoeditor.htm.

-- Victor Zammit (March 2003)

<< Return to A Lawyer on The Skeptics

Copyright © 2001 Victor Zammit.  All rights reserved.  --