2017 Vol. 81(1) 63-72

Etzel Cardeña, Ph.D.
Parapsychology Press


Kennedy, J. E. (2017). Experimenter Fraud: What are Appropriate Methodological Standards? Journal of Parapsychology, 81, 63-72.


Experimenter Fraud: What are Appropriate Methodological Standards?

J. E. Kennedy

Discussions of experimenter fraud in parapsychology have missed a key lesson from the Levy case. The standard procedure for handling scientific fraud is an after-the-fact (post hoc) investigation. Post hoc investigations cannot be expected to be effective in parapsychology because signs of fraud in the data can be attributed to psi, as happened with Levy. In parapsychology, compelling evidence of fraud usually requires direct covert detection of fraud as it occurs during an ongoing experiment, as in the Levy case. However, such covert measures by colleagues are not a practical strategy for addressing fraud and are not expected in other areas of science. The standard that experimental procedures should make fraud by one experimenter very difficult or impossible has long been advocated in parapsychology but has not been implemented in recent decades. This standard was implemented in my experience working in regulated medical research and should eliminate the vast majority of cases of fraud—which start when one experimenter finds data manipulation or fabrication easy and tempting with very little possibility of detection. This standard provides a systematic and effective way to address experimenter fraud and should become part of the new standards for research in the behavioral sciences.


experimenter fraud, experimenter misconduct, research methodology, research standards,

confirmatory research