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No One Pays Any Attention

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Do scientists pay attention to psi research? Some skeptics would have you believe that this topic is so far from the mainstream that no one takes it seriously. What do article impact metrics indicate?

For the article Predictive physiological anticipation preceding seemingly unpredictable stimuli: A meta-analysis, which examines experiments studying what I’ve called “presentiment,” Altmetric reports that this is “one of the highest ever scores” in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (ranked #3 of 1,714 articles). The average view of a journal article is typically a few hundred, and that’s for a very popular paper. This paper has 47,765 views so far. 

For the article Predicting the unpredictable: Critical analysis and practical implications of predictive anticipatory activity, Altmetric reports that this article “is amongst the highest ever scored” inFrontiers in Human Neuroscience, with 10,584 views.

For the article A call for an open, informed study of all aspects of consciousness, Almetric reports that this article is “one of the highest ever scores” in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, with 19,524 views.

For the article Electrocortical activity associated with subjective communication with the deceased, Almetric reports that this “is amongst the highest ever scored” in Frontiers in Psychology, with  6,121 views.

In other words, compared to most journal articles on mainstream (meaning, conventional) topics, these articles are reaching into the rarefied domain of extreme scientific impact — hundreds of times more interest than the typical article.

I’ve found a similar response every time I’ve given a talk to an academic or technical audience. While opinions differ on how to interpret psi data and vigorous debates are common, there is no question that scientists and scholars are interested. And isn’t that what a healthy science is all about — the excitement of exploring the frontiers of knowledge?

As Gandhi famously said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Based on interest and impact metrics, it appears that if this were a political battle (which it basically is — the politics of ideas), as far as the actual mainstream is concerned (mainstream in terms of numbers; not that small minority that desperately holds onto the status quo), I’d estimate that we’re somewhere between fighting and winning.

Update: May 7, 2014.  For the sake of curiosity, I wanted to see how my own scientific impact metric would fare against that of the average scientist.According to a study by the London School of Economics and Political Science the average tenured professor from the disciplines of law to economics have (Hirsch) h-indexes ranging from 2.83 to 7.60, respectively. The average h-index varies widely by discipline, but Hirsch estimated (based on physicists) that after 20 years a “successful” scientist will have an h-index of 20, where success in this context is equivalent to a full professorship in physics at a major research university. According to Google Scholar, my h-index is 22.  


Read Dean Radin’s blog here.

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