Twitter Study Proves Nothing. Surprise!

06.13.2010 · Posted in Mental Powers Wiseman, a professor of psychology from the University of Hertfordshire, conducted a “scientific experiment” via Twitter to determine the existence of psychic powers. I’m sorry, but Twitter and scientific studies don’t quite seem to go together. Novelty studies, sure, but nothing involving real scientific method. I mean, please, this is a site where people broadcast things like “Bbq err wha ahaha” (really) as if that makes any sense or anyone cares.

So this “study” involved the professor traveling to an undisclosed location and asking people to tweet where they thought he was. How many of them said “team Edward!” in response rather than giving a location has not been disclosed. Then Wiseman put up four pictures of locations, said he was at one of them, and invited people to tweet their thoughts about which one of the four was correct. “mmm….donuts…” was apparently not the kind of response Wiseman was looking for.

Based on the responses of over 7,000 people, probably including several spambots, Wiseman concluded that their overall poor guesses indicate that psychic powers might not exist. That’s quite a conclusion to leap to based on the responses of people who enjoy playing games on Twitter. Also, just because most people don’t possess a certain skill or ability doesn’t mean some people don’t. Using Wiseman’s logic, NBA-level basketball skills probably don’t exist, either, or the ability to perform successful neurosurgery.

Experiments like this, and the others on Wiseman’s blog, are fun, and there’s nothing wrong with them. The danger is in people taking the results of these unscientific though interesting experiments as proof of anything. Especially the Twitter tests. Dear God, please don’t let that get out of hand. I don’t want policy decisions based on what FoxyBootteelicious123 or ILoveCheezWhiz45 think.

– Julie


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