Ray Hyman

Ray Hyman (born June 23, 1928) is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon,[1] and a noted critic of parapsychology.[2] Hyman, along with James Randi, Martin Gardner and Paul Kurtz, is one of the founders of the modern skeptical movement. He is the founder and leader of the Skeptic's Toolbox. Hyman serves on the Executive Council for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Ray Hyman
BornJune 23, 1928 (age 90)
Alma materBoston University
Johns Hopkins University
Known forCritic of parapsychology, research on Hick's Law
AwardsIn Praise of Reason Award (2003), Robert P. Balles Prize (2005), IIG Houdini Hall of Honor Award (2011)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Oregon


Hyman was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts. In his teenage years and while attending Boston University as a young man,[3] he worked as a magician and mentalist,[4] impressing the head of his department (among others) with his palmistry. Hyman at one point believed that 'reading' the lines on a person's palm could provide insights into their nature, but later discovered that the person's reaction to the reading had little to do with the actual lines on the palm. This fascination with why this happened led him to switch from a journalist degree to psychology.[5][6][7][8][8]

JREF president D.J. Grothe asked Hyman "How does a young psychology student get into this parapsychology racket ... why you?" Hyman replied that it began when he was hired as a magician at age 7 (as the "Merry Mystic") performing for the Parents and Teachers Association at his school.[9] This led him to read all about Harry Houdini and his work with spiritualists. By the age of 16 he started investigating spiritualist meetings. Thinking back to age 7, "I can't ever remember not being a skeptic".[10]

Magicians who perform mentalism debate among themselves about using a disclaimer. The disclaimer is supposed to inform the audience that what they are witnessing is entertainment, and is not based on actual paranormal powers. In an interview with mentalist Mark Edward, Edward asked Hyman if he had ever used a disclaimer during the six years when he performed professionally as a mentalist. Hyman told him he did not remember explicitly using a disclaimer. He remembered always beginning the performance by stating that he did not claim any special powers. He was an entertainer and he hoped they would enjoy the show. After he became a psychologist, he realized that this was an example of the "invited inference." By openly stating that he made no claims about the nature of his ability, Hyman had given his audience no reason to challenge him. Indeed, he had invited the onlookers to make their own inferences about the source of the apparent feats of mind reading. Most of them concluded he was truly psychic.[7][11]

He obtained a doctorate in psychology from Johns Hopkins University in 1953,[12] and then taught at Harvard for five years.[3] He also became an expert in statistical methods. In 2007 Hyman received an honorary doctorate from the Simon Fraser University for his "intellect and discipline who inspire others to follow in his footsteps... (and) for his courageous advocacy of unfettered skeptical inquiry".[13] In 1982, Hyman held the "Spook Chair" for one year at Stanford University during a sabbatical from the University of Oregon. What the Stanford University psychologists informally call the "Spook" chair is officially known as The Thomas Welton Stanford Chair for Psychical Research. Thomas Welton was the brother of Stanford's founder, Leland Stanford.[14]

Along with other notable skeptics like James Randi, Martin Gardner, Marcello Truzzi and Paul Kurtz, he was a founding member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) (which is now known as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI)),[15] which publishes the Skeptical Inquirer.

Hyman LeeRoss DarylBem VictorBenassi
Hyman speaks at the 1983 CSICOP Conference in Buffalo, NY. With Lee Ross, Daryl Bem and Victor Benassi.

Aside from his scholarly publications and consultation with the U.S. Department of Defense in scrutinizing psychic research,[3] one of his most popular articles is thirteen points to help you "amaze your friends with your new found psychic powers!", a guide to cold reading.[16] According to Jim Alcock, "His article on cold reading, so Paul Kurtz informs me, has generated more requests for reprints than any other article in the history of the Skeptical Inquirer".[17] The guide exploits what fascinated him in his academic research in cognitive psychology, that much deception is self-deception. He has investigated dowsing in the United States and written a book on the subject.[4] He is one of the foremost skeptical experts on the Ganzfeld experiment.[18] According to Bob Carroll, psychologist Ray Hyman is considered to be the foremost expert on subjective validation and cold reading.[19]

Hyman's prestidigitational skills (which he calls "manipulating perception") have earned him the cover of The Linking Ring twice, June 1952 and October 1986 this magazine of the International Brotherhood of Magicians of which he has been a member for over 35 years.[20]

Hyman retired in 1998 but continues to give talks and investigate paranormal claims. In July 2009 he appeared at The Amaz!ng Meeting 7 in Las Vegas, Nevada.[21] Also in 2011, TAM 9 From Outer Space and TAM 2012.[22] He is working on two books: How Smart People Go Wrong: Cognition and Human Error and Parapsychology's Achilles' Heel: Consistent Inconsistency.[23]

On October 9, 2010, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry announced Hyman (and others) as a part of their policy-making Executive Council, he will also serve on Skeptical Inquirer's magazine board.[24][25]

Ray Hyman Spoon Bending CFI
Ray Hyman demonstrates Uri Geller's spoon bending feats at CFI lecture. June 17, 2012 Costa Mesa, CA

History of skeptical movement

In the 2010 D.J. Grothe interview, Hyman states that the formation of the skeptic movement can be attributed to Uri Geller and Alice Cooper. Randi was touring with Cooper as a part of the stage show, Cooper asked Randi to invite Hyman to a show in order to ask his advice about the audience. While there, "Randi pulled me aside and said... we really ought to do something about this Uri Geller business... lets form an organization called SIR" (Sanity In Research). In 1972 joined by Martin Gardner they had their first meeting. The three of them felt they had no administration experience, "we just had good ideas" and were soon joined by Marcello Truzzi who provided structure for the group. Truzzi involved Paul Kurtz and they then formed CSICOP in 1976.[26][27]

In an interview in 2009 with Derek Colanduno for the Skepticality podcast, Hyman was asked his opinion of the modern skeptical movement. Hyman responded that skeptics need to have goals and a way to measure them. They need to become a resource for the public, and focus on educating journalists and teachers. "That way we will get more bang for our buck." On the current state of the skeptical movement, Hyman stated "The media, unfortunately has made it so we have many more believers." Less science teachers in the classrooms, major newspapers are firing their science writing staff, 24-hour news channels are trying to fill all that time and compete with Fox News. "Things are not good."[28]

Skeptic's Toolbox

Hyman in 1989 created the Skeptic's Toolbox to teach people how to be better skeptics. Hyman tells James Underdown that "we were putting out more fires by skeptics than by believers... they were going overboard". The first toolbox was in Buffalo, NY with himself, James Alcock and Steve Shaw now called Banachek.[23] With the exception of one year when the toolbox was held in Boulder, CO the toolbox has been held at the University of Oregon in Eugene. The Skeptic's Toolbox originally spanned 5 days. Later it was cut back to 4 days.[29][30]

Speaking to a reporter from The Register-Guard Hyman explains that people come from all over the country to attend the 4-day conference, to hone their critical thinking skills. Hyman is curious about why people who believe in paranormal claims without evidence continue to do so, "'I just want to understand how people get to believe some things... Magic is a perfect example of how people can be fooled'" and it works the same way with paranormal claims.[31] Hyman felt that it was necessary to teach attendees with a "case-based approach... concrete examples as a first step toward extracting broad examples... (giving) the benefit of context" to the learning experience.[32] This approach is different to a traditional conference. He has attendees use hands-on participation, splitting them into teams so they are able to spend quality time discussing the readings and lectures. At the 2014 Toolbox, Hyman used Oskar Pfungst’s investigation of Clever Hans as an example of how detailed and exhaustive some investigators are in studying claims.[33]

Hick-Hyman Law

Hyman published his "classic paper showing that human choice reaction time is related to the information content of an incoming signal" called the Hick-Hyman Law. This helped to lay the groundwork "for the shift from behavioral psychology... to the era of cognitive psychology."[13] This was Hyman's second published paper, and submitted while still a grad student. He states that Hick used a different formula and got his "math wrong, which I corrected" but they still named the law after him because Hyman was "just a student". Sometimes called Hick's Law (mainly in Britain), in America it is more often referred to as the Hick-Hyman Law.[34]

Remote viewing review

Along with Jessica Utts, he conducted a review of CIA remote viewing experiments in 1995. He noted that the experiments "appear to be free of the more obvious and better known flaws that can invalidate the results of parapsychological investigations" and that there are significant effect sizes "too large and consistent to be dismissed as statistical flukes." However, he stops short of "concluding that the existence of anomalous cognition has been established."[35]

Ganzfeld experiments

While working at Stanford University and serving as the "Spook Chair'" Hyman decided that he would never be able to read all the literature concerning parapsychology that existed in the 1980s. He then asked parapsychologists "What is the best evidence for psi?" they nearly universally pointed to the Ganzfeld experiment. Hyman wrote to Charles Honorton and was sent 600 pages of information. Three years later Hyman's analysis led to the 1985 issue of the Journal of Parapsychology publishing Hyman's critiques. Hyman's conclusion "By themselves these experiments do not mean anything unless they can be replicated".[10]

In 2007, Hyman noted that the ganzfeld experiments had not been successfully replicated and suggested there was evidence that sensory leakage had taken place in the autoganzfeld experiments.[36]

Ken-RayPaulRandiKen photo at TAM8
Ray Hyman, Paul Kurtz, James Randi, and Ken Frazier at TAM8, July 2010, Las Vegas, after their session on the history of the modern skeptical movement.

Uri Geller and Stanford Research Institute

Magician Jerry Andrus and Hyman appeared in 1975 on a TV station in Portland, Oregon, where they explained and duplicated the "paranormal" tricks Geller had performed for host Dick Klinger the week prior. Klinger asked, "Does Uri Geller have any supernatural powers?" Andrus gave the short answer "No." Hyman stated, "(Geller) is an opportunist... which is why it is difficult to duplicate him, he himself cannot duplicate himself. He's always ready to do something... he is going to do something when you think he is doing something else... misdirection... he's excellent at it, he's superb."[37]

In 1972 Hyman was asked by The Department of Defense to investigate psychic Uri Geller. Hyman was intrigued by a story that Geller had taken a ring from one of the scientists, set it on a table, and without touching it, the ring stood on end, broke in half and formed itself into a S-shape. Upon questioning all the scientists at the lab, Hyman discovered that no one had actually seen this happen, but had heard stories from others (who could not be tracked down) that it had happened." Hyman continued to question the scientists and discovered that no one had ever seen Geller bend anything without touching it. In fact "Geller was allowed to take the object into the bathroom... and then come back with the bent object, they took his word for it." "The parapsychologist (also sent to investigate) 'saw a psychic,' and I reported back that I saw only a charismatic fraud."[13][38]

When asked to explain further why people believe in Geller when a magician can do the same thing without paranormal powers, Hyman states, "He's a fraud, but you can't blame people for believing him. Geller is a product of a wonderful public relations campaign... What the audience gets is only one side of the story... He has been caught cheating many times" but people still believe. Speaking as a psychologist Hyman says "If you get people in the right frame of mind and they are cooperating with you... and even give them a poor reading... they will fit it to themselves and believe you are telling them about their unique personality."[37]

Gary Schwartz

Professor Gary Schwartz conducted numerous experiments at his laboratory at the University of Arizona where he is tenured. Schwartz believes that he has proven the dead communicate with the living through human mediums. Hyman details many methodological errors with Schwartz's research including; "Inappropriate control comparisons", "Failure to use double-blind procedures", "Creating non-falsifiable outcomes by reinterpreting failures as successes" and "Failure to independently check on facts the sitters endorsed as true". Hyman wrote "Even if the research program were not compromised by these defects, the claims being made would require replication by independent investigators." Hyman criticizes Schwartz's decision to publish his results without gathering "evidence for their hypothesis that would meet generally accepted scientific criteria... they have lost credibility."[6]

There have been many follow-up exchanges between Schwartz and Hyman over the Afterlife Experiments conducted by Schwartz. Published May 2003, Schwartz responded that Hyman ignored "the total body of research." Schwartz takes issue with Hyman's opinion that he (Hyman) will not believe in psi. Hyman answered, "Until multiple perfect experiments are performed and published... believe that the totality of the findings must be due to some combination of fraud, cold reading, rater bias, experimenter error, or chance... Why spend the time and money conducting multiple multi-center, double-blind experiments unless there are sufficient theoretical, experimental, and social reasons for doing so?"[39][40]


  • "I have never, never met a proponent of the paranormal that didn't always preface their introduction to me with, 'I'm a skeptic too'."[28]
  • On, "scientists with outstanding minds, people who are first-class scientists... who at the same time were peddling some sort of horrible paranormal nonsense.... What I think is going on here is that we emphasize the individual, make a hero out of an individual scientist." What they forget is that "they attribute their success not to the fact that they are a part of a discipline, which has its peer review, and has checks and balances. They attribute it to something inside themselves. Which means they feel they can walk outside their discipline... they can do whatever they want and it will still be good science, because they are good scientists. It does not work that well. A micro-biologist can not walk into an observatory and do good astronomy."[28]
  • "As a psychologist I know that it is not normal to be a skeptic 'we are mutants'."[10] "Its more normal to be a believer."[28]
  • James Underdown explains Hyman's maxim: "Don't try to explain HOW something works until you find out THAT it works." Hyman's maxim was named by James Alcock.[41]
  • "They (skeptics) keep building centers all over the world... which are very expensive. Always doing fundraisers... the skeptic movement (focuses on) fighting amongst themselves... They have done nothing towards outreach where they can do the most... Give people the tools to think, help them to become better thinkers."[26]
  • Concerning science and replication, "That's how you know something's 'there'. Parapsychology doesn't have a 'there'; they can not replicate. They respond with 'That is the nature of psi. Just when you're closing in on it, it takes off in a different direction...' then they throw in some quantum mechanics."[10]
  • "I don't have the sex appeal Geller has, that's why I'm making my money as a college professor. I also can't lie conveniently."[37]
  • "Garbage in, garbage out" speaking to graduates at Simon Fraser University "If you are going to have any chance at all to solve any problem, first make sure your facts are correct."[13]
  • On parapsychology – It is "essentially a scientific enterprise. Its practitioners are serious scientific researchers, often at the PhD level... the problem with most... is that after the dust settles on an argument, they still have hope that 'something is there.' A skeptic's position... is not anti-psi, its agnostic. A skeptic's 'belief' is that a claim has a normal explanation."[32]
Toolbox Faculty Awards
Each of the faculty of 2012's Skeptic's Toolbox are presented by long-time attendees Carl and Ben Baumgartner, with a Honorary In The Trenches Award. Ray Hyman, Lindsay Beyerstein, James Alcock, Harriet Hall and Loren Pankratz[42]


Ray Hyman accepts the 2010 NCAS Philip Klass Award
Accepting the NCAS Philip Klass Award


  • Bush, Robert R.; Abelson, Robert; Hyman, Ray (1956), Mathematics for Psychologists, New York: Social Science Research Council, OCLC 2301803
  • Vogt, Evon Zartman; Hyman, Ray (1959), Water Witching USA, Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, OCLC 315006378
  • Hyman, Ray (1964), The Nature of Psychological Inquiry, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, OCLC 191376
  • Hyman, Ray (1989), The Elusive Quarry: A Scientific Appraisal of Psychical Research, Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, ISBN 0-87975-504-0, OCLC 19455101
  • Andrus, Jerry; Hyman, Ray (2000), Andrus Card Control, Eugene, OR: Chazpro Magic, OCLC 65215589

Selected articles


  1. ^ Department of Psychology at the University of Oregon Faculty Information, Eugene, Oregon: University of Oregon, archived from the original on February 27, 2009, retrieved July 27, 2009
  2. ^ Alcock, James (March/April 2014). "In Praise of Ray Hyman". Skeptical Inquirer. Volume 28, No. 2.
  3. ^ a b c Shermer, Michael (January 1998), The Truth is Out There & Ray Hyman Wants to Find It, Skeptic Magazine, archived from the original on August 28, 2005, retrieved July 27, 2009
  4. ^ a b Ask The Scientists: Water, Water Everywhere – Ray Hyman, PBS.ORG, retrieved July 27, 2009
  5. ^ Hyman, Ray. "Water, Water Everywhere – Ray Hyman". Ask the Scientists. PBS. Retrieved 2009-07-27. When I first began doing palm reading for money, I did not believe that it really worked. However, I was amazed when my clients insisted that everything I was telling them was uncannily accurate. By the time I began college, I was a true believer. I had no doubts that palmistry worked. When I was a sophomore in college, a friend suggested that I try and read my next client's palm by telling her the opposite of what the lines said. If her heart line indicated that she did not like to display her emotions, I would tell her that she was the sort of person who displays her emotions openly. If her head line said she was a practical person, I would tell her she was imaginative and somewhat impractical. To my astonishment, this client was thrilled at how accurately I had captured her personality. So I tried the same experiment on my next few clients. The results were the same! By now, I was coming to the realization that whatever was happening in a palm reading session, it had nothing to do with the lines in the hand. I was majoring in journalism when I came to this realization. I immediately changed my major to psychology.
  6. ^ a b Hyman, Ray (Jan–Feb 2003). "How Not to Test Mediums: Critiquing the Afterlife Experiments". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  7. ^ a b "Skeptic Toolbox Interviews Pt 1". Retrieved 2012-08-11.
  8. ^ a b "Skeptic Toolbox Interviews Pt 2". Retrieved 2012-08-11.
  9. ^ Hyman, Ray (June 2015). "Birth of a notion". The Skeptic. 35 (2): 53.
  10. ^ a b c d "Ray Hyman – The Life of an Expert Skeptic, Part 1 – For Good Reason". JREF. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  11. ^ "Ray Hyman & Mark Edward discuss disclaimers in mentalism". Retrieved 2012-07-29.
  12. ^ Hyman, Ray (1953), Stimulus information as a determinant of reaction time, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University, p. 30, OCLC 30554829
  13. ^ a b c d e "2007: Dr. Ray Hyman". Simon Fraser University. 4 October 2007. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  14. ^ "Conversations with Ray Hyman – Part 3". Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  15. ^ a b Alcock, James (March–April 2004), "In Praise of Ray Hyman", Skeptical Inquirer, 28 (2), archived from the original on July 22, 2009, retrieved July 27, 2009
  16. ^ Hyman, Ray, Guide to "Cold Reading", Australian Skeptics, retrieved July 27, 2009
  17. ^ "In Praise of Ray Hyman". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
  18. ^ Novella, Steven (May 17, 2006). "Episode #43". The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. Retrieved July 27, 2009. (This is his first podcast interview, it runs from 27:34 to 1:04:50)
  19. ^ Carrol, Bob. "Hope in Small Doses". Skepticality. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
  20. ^ 2008 Order of Merlin Inductees and Awardees, The International Brotherhood of Magicians, July 22, 2008, retrieved July 27, 2009 (Hyman is listed as a Shield Awardee – 35 continuous years)
  21. ^ "The Amaz!ng Meeting 7 Speakers". James Randi Educational Foundation. February 23, 2009. Retrieved July 27, 2009.
  22. ^ "TAM Workshops". JREF. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
  23. ^ a b c Ray Hyman – Honorary Degree Recipient, Vancouver, BC, Canada: Simon Fraser University, October 4, 2007, retrieved July 27, 2009
  24. ^ Frazier, Kendrick; Barry Karr (January–February 2011), "CSI(COP) Renews and Expands Executive Council, Plans for Future Activities", Skeptical Inquirer, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, 35 (1): 5.
  25. ^ Editor (21 February 2011). "Meet SI's Editorial Board and CSI's Executive Council". CSICOP. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  26. ^ a b "Ray Hyman – The Life of an Expert Skeptic, Part 2 – For Good Reason". JREF. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  27. ^ a b Hyman, Ray. "IIG Award:Ray Hyman 2011". Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  28. ^ a b c d "Skepticality 108 – Stars of TAM7". Skepticality. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  29. ^ The Skeptic's Toolbox 2009 Registration, Eugene, Oregon: The Skeptic's Toolbox, retrieved July 27, 2009
  30. ^ "Conversations with Ray Hyman – Part 2". Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  31. ^ Baker, Mark (August 17, 2003). "Skeptics gather to sort out normal and paranormal". The Register-Guard. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  32. ^ a b Goldstein, Steven (1994). "Watch What You're Thinking! The Skeptic's Toolbox II Conference". Skeptical Inquirer. 18 (4): 11–13.
  33. ^ Gerbic, Susan. "Susan Gerbic Reports on the 2014 Skeptics Toolbox". csicop.org. CSI. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  34. ^ "Conversations with Ray Hyman – Part 5". Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  35. ^ "Evaluation of Program on Anomalous Mental Phenomena". Retrieved 2013-02-09.
  36. ^ Ray Hyman. (2007). Evaluating Parapsychological Claims. In Critical Thinking in Psychology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 216-231. ISBN 978-0521608343
  37. ^ a b c "Jerry Andrus and Ray Hyman on Uri Geller". Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  38. ^ "Conversations with Ray Hyman – Part 1". Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  39. ^ Schwartz, Gary (May–June 2003). "How Not To Review Mediumship Research: Follow-up". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  40. ^ Hyman, Ray (May–June 2003). "Hyman's Reply to Schwartz". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  41. ^ "Conversations with Ray Hyman – Part 4". Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  42. ^ "Skeptic's Toolbox Awards – 2". Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  43. ^ Editor (May–June 2006). "Testing the girl with X-ray eyes". Skeptical Inquirer: 13.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
  44. ^ Hyman, Ray (May–June 2005). "Testing Natasha". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  45. ^ "Apr 24 NCAS Philip J. Klass Award Presentation to Ray Hyman". National Capital Area Skeptics. 2010-03-13. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  46. ^ "About the IIG Awards". IIG. Retrieved 2012-07-26.

External links


CSICon or CSIConference is an annual skeptical conference typically held in the United States. CSICon is hosted by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), which is a program of the Center for Inquiry (CFI). CSI publishes Skeptical Inquirer, subtitled The Magazine for Science and Reason.

Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is a program within the transnational American non-profit educational organization Center for Inquiry (CFI), which seeks to "promote scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims." Paul Kurtz proposed the establishment of CSICOP in 1976 as an independent non-profit organization (before merging with CFI as one of its programs in 2015), to counter what he regarded as an uncritical acceptance of, and support for, paranormal claims by both the media and society in general. Its philosophical position is one of scientific skepticism. CSI's fellows have included notable scientists, Nobel laureates, philosophers, psychologists, educators and authors. It is headquartered in Amherst, New York.

Ganzfeld experiment

A ganzfeld experiment (from the German for “entire field”) is a technique used in parapsychology which is used to test individuals for extrasensory perception (ESP). The ganzfeld experiments are among the most recent in parapsychology for testing telepathy.Consistent, independent replication of ganzfeld experiments has not been achieved.

Henry Gross (dowser)

Henry Gross (1895–1979) was an American game warden and dowser.

Gross worked as a game warden in Biddeford, Maine. He was most well known for his search of objects and underground water by dowsing with a Y shaped stick. It was alleged by Kenneth Roberts who wrote the book Henry Gross and His Dowsing Rod (1951) that Gross located water all over Maine and in surrounding states.Science writer Martin Gardner disputed any occult interpretation of Gross's abilities commenting that his dowsing was the result of the exaggeration, ideomotor effect and random chance. Gardner noted that "Even in Kenneth Roberts' violently partisan book, he records an abundance of failures by Henry Gross whenever conditions approaching a scientific test were arranged. For example, Henry was unable to distinguish mason jars containing water from jars containing sand when the jars were concealed inside paper sacks. He was unable to find envelopes containing coins when they were placed on the ground beside empty envelopes." Evon Z. Vogt and Ray Hyman also examined the reports of his dowsing in depth and concluded the cause was ideomotor action and suggestion.Robert P. Sharp a geology expert noted that the dowsing experiments Gross was involved in were poorly designed and his claims were at odds with groundwater behaviour and research from geophysics. In 1961 Mr. Gross appeared as a mystery challenger on the television game show "To Tell The Truth".

Hick's law

Hick's law, or the Hick–Hyman law, named after British and American psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman, describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has: increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically. The Hick–Hyman law assesses cognitive information capacity in choice reaction experiments. The amount of time taken to process a certain amount of bits in the Hick–Hyman law is known as the rate of gain of information.

Hick's law is sometimes cited to justify menu design decisions. For example, to find a given word (e.g. the name of a command) in a randomly ordered word list (e.g. a menu), scanning of each word in the list is required, consuming linear time, so Hick's law does not apply. However, if the list is alphabetical and the user knows the name of the command, he or she may be able to use a subdividing strategy that works in logarithmic time.


Hyman is the surname of:

Alan Hyman (1910–1999), author and screenwriter

Albert Hyman (1893–1972), co-inventor of the artificial pacemaker

Anthony Hyman (1947–1999), author and specialist on Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union

Anthony A. Hyman (born 1961), British scientist

Ben Zion Hyman (1891–1984), Canadian-Jewish bookseller

Bill Hyman (1875–1959), English cricketer

Dick Hyman (born 1927), American jazz pianist/keyboardist and composer

Dorothy Hyman (born 1941), British athlete

Eric Hyman, (born 1951?), collegiate athletic director

Flora ("Flo") Jean Hyman (1954–1986), American volleyball player and Olympic silver medalist

James Hyman (born 1970), British DJ and music supervisor

James (Mac) Hyman (born 1950), Applied mathematician

Jennifer Hyman, CEO and cofounder of Rent The Runway

Jeffry Hyman (1951–2001), birth name of punk rock singer/songwriter Joey Ramone

John Adams Hyman (1840–1891), born a slave, later became Congressman for North Carolina

John Hyman (born 1960), British philosopher

Libbie Hyman (1888–1969), American zoologist

Louis Hyman (born 1977), American writer and economic historian

Marc Hyman, Hollywood film writer

Mark E. Hyman, Vice President for Corporate Relations for Sinclair Broadcast Group

Misty Hyman (born 1979), American swimmer and Olympic gold medalist

Phyllis Hyman (1949–1995), American soul singer, model and actress

Ray Hyman (born 1928), Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon, magician, and critic of parapsychology

Rob Hyman (born 1950), American singer, songwriter, and producer

Trina Schart Hyman (1939–2004), American illustrator of children's books

Zach Hyman (born 1992), a Canadian Professional Hockey Player and Award Winning AuthorHyman, or a variant Hymen is the given name of:

Hyman Bass, American mathematician

Hyman "Hy" Buller (1926–1968), Canadian All Star NHL ice hockey player

Hyman "Hank" Greenberg (1911–1986), American Hall of Fame baseball player

Hyman Holtz (c. 1896–1939?), New York racketeer

Hyman Kreitman (1914-2001), British businessman

Hyman Krustofski, a fictional character on The Simpsons

Hyman Martin (1903–1987), Chicago mobster

Hyman Minsky (1919–1996), US economist who studied financial crises

Hyman George Rickover (1900–1986), US Navy Admiral

Hyman Roth, a fictional character in The Godfather series of books and films

Frederic Hymen Cowen, British conductor, composer and pianist

Hymen B. Mintz, US politician

James Alcock

James E. Alcock (born 24 December 1942) is a Canadian educator. He has been a Professor of Psychology at York University (Canada) since 1973. Alcock is a noted critic of parapsychology and is a Fellow and Member of the Executive Council for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is a member of the Editorial Board of The Skeptical Inquirer, and a frequent contributor to the magazine. He has also been a columnist for Humanist Perspectives Magazine. In 1999, a panel of skeptics named him among the two dozen most outstanding skeptics of the 20th century. In May 2004, CSICOP awarded Alcock CSI's highest honor, the In Praise of Reason Award. Alcock is also an amateur magician and is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Jerry Andrus

Jerry Andrus (January 28, 1918 – August 26, 2007) was an American magician and writer known internationally for his original close-up, sleight-of-hand tricks and optical illusions, such as the "Linking Pins".

Jessica Utts

Jessica Utts (born 1952) is a parapsychologist and statistics professor at the University of California, Irvine. She is known for her textbooks on statistics and her investigation into remote viewing.

Loren Pankratz

Loren Pankratz (born February 27, 1940) is a consultation psychologist at the Portland VA Medical Center and professor in the department of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).Following his retirement in 1995, he maintained a forensic practice until 2012. He testified nationally on cases of Münchausen syndrome by proxy (MBP), often defending mothers accused of harming their children.He has written and lectured on a wide variety of unusual topics such as dancing manias, spiritualism, Greek oracles, ghosts, plagues, historical enigmas, mesmerism, moral panics, con-games, self-deception, faith healing, self-surgery, miracles, ethical blunders, quackery, and renaissance science. He has also published magic history, magic tricks, and mentalism effects in magazines. Pankratz, along with Ray Hyman and Jerry Andrus, was a founding faculty member of the Skeptic's Toolbox in Eugene, Oregon. Pankratz is also a Fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Parapsychology research at SRI

Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) in Menlo Park, California carried out research on various phenomena characterized by the term parapsychology from 1972 until 1991. Early studies indicating that phenomena such as remote viewing and psychokinesis could be scientifically studied were published in such mainstream journals as Proceedings of the IEEE and Nature. This attracted the sponsorship of such groups as NASA (by way of Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and The Central Intelligence Agency.

In 1991, the research program was transferred to SAIC as part of the Stargate Project. While the SRI projects were classified at the time, the research materials were subsequently made public in 1995, and a summary of the early history of SRI and the origins of Stargate was published the following year. Scientists and skeptical writers would later find serious flaws in the methodology used at SRI, leaving the work largely discredited.

Paul Kurtz

Paul Kurtz (December 21, 1925 – October 20, 2012) was a prominent American scientific skeptic and secular humanist. He has been called "the father of secular humanism". He was Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, having previously also taught at Vassar, Trinity, and Union colleges, and the New School for Social Research.

Kurtz founded the publishing house Prometheus Books in 1969. He was also the founder and past chairman of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI, formerly the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, CSICOP), the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Center for Inquiry. He was editor in chief of Free Inquiry magazine, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism.

He was co-chair of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) from 1986 to 1994. He was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Humanist Laureate, president of the International Academy of Humanism and Honorary Associate of Rationalist International. As a member of the American Humanist Association, he contributed to the writing of Humanist Manifesto II. He was an editor of The Humanist, 1967–78.

Kurtz published over 800 articles or reviews and authored and edited over 50 books. Many of his books have been translated into over 60 languages.

Sensory leakage

Sensory leakage is a term used to refer to information that transferred to a person by conventional means (other than Psi) during an experiment into Psi.For example, where the subject in an ESP experiment receives a visual cue — the reflection of a Zener card in the holder's glasses — sensory leakage can be said to have occurred.

Skeptic's Toolbox

The Skeptic's Toolbox is an annual four-day workshop devoted to scientific skepticism. It was formed by psychologist and now-retired University of Oregon professor Ray Hyman, has been held every August since 1992, and is sponsored by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. The workshop focuses on educating people to be better critical thinkers, and involves a central theme. The attendees are broken up into groups and given tasks that they must work on together and whose results they must present in front of the entire group on the last day.

Stargate Project

Stargate Project was the 1991 code name for a secret U.S. Army unit established in 1978 at Fort Meade, Maryland, by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and SRI International (a California contractor) to investigate the potential for psychic phenomena in military and domestic intelligence applications. The Project, and its precursors and sister projects, originally went by various code names—GONDOLA WISH, GRILL FLAME, CENTER LANE, SUN STREAK, SCANATE—until 1991 when they were consolidated and rechristened as "Stargate Project".

Stargate Project work primarily involved remote viewing, the purported ability to psychically "see" events, sites, or information from a great distance. The project was overseen until 1987 by Lt. Frederick Holmes "Skip" Atwater, an aide and "psychic headhunter" to Maj. Gen. Albert Stubblebine, and later president of the Monroe Institute. The unit was small-scale, comprising about 15 to 20 individuals, and was run out of "an old, leaky wooden barracks".The Stargate Project was terminated and declassified in 1995 after a CIA report concluded that it was never useful in any intelligence operation. Information provided by the program was vague and included irrelevant and erroneous data, and there was reason to suspect that its project managers had changed the reports so they would fit background cues. The program was featured in the 2004 book and 2009 film, both titled The Men Who Stare at Goats, although neither mentions it by name.

Subjective validation

Subjective validation, sometimes called personal validation effect, is a cognitive bias by which a person will consider a statement or another piece of information to be correct if it has any personal meaning or significance to them. In other words, a person whose opinion is affected by subjective validation will perceive two unrelated events (i.e., a coincidence) to be related because their personal belief demands that they be related. Closely related to the Forer effect, subjective validation is an important element in cold reading. It is considered to be the main reason behind most reports of paranormal phenomena. According to Bob Carroll, psychologist Ray Hyman is considered to be the foremost expert on subjective validation and cold reading.The term subjective validation first appeared in the 1980 book The Psychology of the Psychic by David F. Marks and Richard Kammann.

Telescope (TV series)

Telescope is a Canadian documentary series which aired on CBC Television between 1963 and 1973. The series was hosted by Fletcher Markle, which profiled notable Canadian people from celebrities to the unknown, who made a difference.

Starting in September 1966, Telescope was the first regular colour broadcast in Canada. Its producer was Sam Levene.In 2008, CBC offered 10 episodes of Telescope on their Digital Archives website. The episodes are from the 1970–71 season, and feature new host Ken Kavanagh. Among those profiled were game show host Monty Hall, publisher Mel Hurtig, journalist Pat Carney, actor John Vernon, author Farley Mowat, amusement park impresario Patty Conklin, and underwater explorer Joe MacInnis. A 1970 episode featured actor Donald Sutherland including early footage of his son Kiefer. Mentalist Uri Geller followed a week later by Ray Hyman and Jerry Andrus who explained and duplicated Geller's "paranormal" feats. First Nations filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin has stated that it was an interview with her on Telescope in the early 1960s that first brought her to the attention of the National Film Board of Canada.

The Afterlife Experiments

The Afterlife Experiments (full title: The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death) is a book written by Gary Schwartz and William L. Simon, with a foreword by Deepak Chopra. The book contains four reports detailing a series of experiments that utilized mediums and sitters to investigate whether or not there is life after death.

The psychologist Ray Hyman published a detailed criticism of Schwartz's techniques, titled "How Not to Test Mediums". Schwartz responded with a detailed rebuttel titled "How Not to Review Mediumship Research", which led to Hyman publishing a response.

The Amazing Meeting

The Amazing Meeting (TAM), stylized as The Amaz!ng Meeting, was an annual conference that focused on science, skepticism, and critical thinking. The conference started in 2003 and was sponsored by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). Perennial speakers included Penn & Teller, Phil Plait, Michael Shermer and James "The Amazing" Randi. Speakers at the four-day conference were selected from a variety of disciplines including scientific educators, magicians, and community activists. Outside the plenary sessions the conference included workshops, additional panel discussions, music and magic performances and live taping of podcasts including The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. The final Amazing Meeting was held in July 2015.

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