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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Mar;100(3):426-32. doi: 10.1037/a0022790.

Why psychologists must change the way they analyze their data: the case of psi: comment on Bem (2011).

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam. ej.wagenmakers@gmail.com

Abstract

Does psi exist? D. J. Bem (2011) conducted 9 studies with over 1,000 participants in an attempt to demonstrate that future events retroactively affect people's responses. Here we discuss several limitations of Bem's experiments on psi; in particular, we show that the data analysis was partly exploratory and that one-sided p values may overstate the statistical evidence against the null hypothesis. We reanalyze Bem's data with a default Bayesian t test and show that the evidence for psi is weak to nonexistent. We argue that in order to convince a skeptical audience of a controversial claim, one needs to conduct strictly confirmatory studies and analyze the results with statistical tests that are conservative rather than liberal. We conclude that Bem's p values do not indicate evidence in favor of precognition; instead, they indicate that experimental psychologists need to change the way they conduct their experiments and analyze their data.

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PMID:
21280965
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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