Two items, oddly about parapsychology (as a means to raise points about science and the public). First, this article from The Guardian last week is both unsurprising and disappointing. It is not at all surprising that careful attempts to reproduce almost-certainly-spurious results implying precognitive phenomena have shown that those effects apparently to not really exist. What is worth pondering and discussion, however, is the fact that the authors who tried to check the original results had such a hard time publishing their work, because the major journals dismiss attempts to reproduce controversial results as unoriginal or derivative. This is a problem. Sure, you don't want to take up premiere journal space with lots of confirmations or repetitions of previous work. However, if a journal is willing to hype controversial results to boost circulation, then surely there is some burden on them to follow up on whether those extraordinary claims withstand the test of time.
Second, this morning's Dear Abby column (yes, I still read a newspaper on Sundays) had a letter from a woman seeking advice about how to use her "psychic gifts". It's very depressing that the response said "Many people have psychic abilities to a greater or lesser degree than you do, and those "vibes" can be invaluable." Really? Many people have psychic abilities? How's this for advice: if you really have psychic abilities, go to the James Randi Foundation and take their Million Dollar Challenge. Once you pass, you can use the money to make peoples' lives better. I know it's stupid to get annoyed by this, just as it's pointless to complain about the horoscopes that run in the paper. Still, if someone has an audience as large as Dear Abby, they should think a little bit about spreading this silliness.